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The organizational niche

Hannan, M.T.; Carroll, G.R.; Pólos, L.


M.T. Hannan

G.R. Carroll


Although the concept of niche has been extremely useful in sociological theory and research, some aspects of the concept have not been clearly developed. This article advances a theoretical reconstruction of the concept of niche, with special application to organizations. The proposed formal model unifies several active lines of sociological theory. It also extends the notion of the niche from the realm of behaviors to apply to the rules coding social identities and organizational forms. The reconstruction gives deeper insight into the niche of an organizational population as well as individual organizations. Finally, the model analyzes the (thus far) tacit assumption that niches are convex, examines the implications of convexity for commonly used measures of niche width, and provides a general sociological argument for the predominance of convex niches.


Hannan, M., Carroll, G., & Pólos, L. (2003). The organizational niche. Sociological Theory, 21(4), 309-340.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2003-12
Deposit Date Apr 3, 2007
Journal Sociological Theory
Print ISSN 0735-2751
Electronic ISSN 1467-9558
Publisher American Sociological Association
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 4
Pages 309-340
Public URL