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institutional isomorphism, new economic sociology, referral system, social network, South Korea



  1. Jung, Minsoo
  2. Choi, Mankyu


Hospitals engage in medical referral system relations voluntarily, by virtue of their own service capacities. These capacities include medical technology, equipment supply, and patient management, which are assessed individually by medical institutions in efforts to control costs and maintain efficiency in tertiary hospitals. This study assessed referral networks according to the institutional isomorphism theory of new economic sociology. As a result, the referral networks were shown to exhibit emergent structural hierarchy via cumulative clustering by established year and were not affected by attributive variables such as region, bed number, and year of establishment. In particular, the networks evidenced institutional isomorphism with certain central hospitals. As a consequence, personal indices were shown to decrease in accordance with its period, and only the structural index increased. Normative pressures cause organizations to become hierarchically homogenized, in accordance with the principle of organizational learning in specialized fields. Therefore, normative isomorphism on the basis of public domains should be considered an inherent factor in the development of referral networks.