The web of institutionalisation

Levy, C.
Publication language
Date published
01 Jan 1996
Research, reports and studies
Gender, Urban design/planning

Many development-focused organisations profess to upholding a wide range of values such as gender equity, participation, power-sensitivity, poverty-focused, organisational learning and so forth. Yet in practice, these organisations are often inconsistent in what they say and what they enable and do. It is very much harder to truly ‘institutionalise’ values than simply to stating their importance. Dr. C. Levy noticed many disappointing results in the context of her work on mainstreaming gender equity in organisations. There was very little evidence of sustained change that related to a gender perspective in the practices of the organisations (NGO, government, bilateral and multilateral) that she encountered.

To encourage a more systemic and systematic analysis of what is needed to embed a value in an organisation, Levy developed the idea of a ‘web’ of elements that all need to be in place for coherence and consistency. The web identifies 13 essential areas that need to be synchronised for institutionalising a normative shift, such as gender awareness, organisational learning, or power analysis.

This process should help understand existing strengths and opportunities for change in your context to make it more able to learn. This is achieved by scanning 13 elements that together indicate how effective your organizational context is likely to be at encouraging organisational learning. Where areas are weak or contradictory, this indicates how the work could be improved. For each element of the web, describe what the organisation is undertaking in terms of organisational learning. Identify which elements are strong and which are weak, requiring improvements.