Enemies of the state: Interdependence Between Institutional Forms and the Ecology of the Kibbutz, 1910-1997

Tal Simons, Paul L. Ingram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


The kibbutz, once lauded as an exemplar of the Utopian organization, has been criticized recently as yet another illustration that socialist arrangements are inferior to capitalist ones. In this paper, we test a number of explanations of what happened to the kibbutz, using an analysis of the founding rate of the kibbutz population. We find support for popular accounts that the kibbutz stagnated partly as a result of the development in Israel of capitalism and of alternatives for structuring community relations. We also find that a less recognized influence, the state, was a critical determinant of favorable and unfavorable kibbutz outcomes. Our analysis shows that early in the twentieth century, the kibbutz flourished as a source of the order that the states to which it was subject were unable to provide. Over time, the states of Palestine and Israel developed more capacity to govern and displaced the kibbutz from the order-provision role. We also show an active rivalry, with the State of Israel attacking the kibbutz to shore up its own autonomy and in the process delegitimizing the kibbutz movement. These results suggest revisions to the conclusions that are typically drawn from the “kibbutz experiment.” They also suggest that some organizational forms may experience symbiosis, competition, and rivalry with the state and that these factors can be key determinants of the state's actions and the forms' evolution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)592-621
JournalAdministrative Science Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


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