The Mobilization of the Formal Normative Rules in an Educational Institution: A Sociological Study in Portugal

  •  Sandro Serpa    


The formal dimension can greatly condition the operation of an organization. The present article aims to study the mobilization of organizations’ formal structures within educational institutions. To achieve this goal, I analyze the situations between 1858 and 1913 in which the bylaws and/or regulations of the Disadvantaged Children’s Shelter of Horta (Asilo de Infância Desvalida da Horta-AIDH), the Azores, Portugal, are explicitly noted with different chairmen and administrations through documents found in the organization’s archives. We find that these formal instruments are mobilized not only by the chairman and the administration but also by the governance, whether to justify the shelter’s operation, legitimize decisions already made, or refer to the importance of these formal official normative guidelines. As a result, we find that this formal dimension is of the utmost importance, not only as a potential guiding framework but also for legitimizing action, even though it does not necessarily reflect the operations of an organization.

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