Niche theories: differentiation through ‘form’?
This insight supports a second argument around the way the ‘environment’ that groups operate in and draw resources from is conceptualized. Rather than view the environment as an n-dimensional resource space, it is suggested that it could be productively viewed as an organizational identity-space. The virtue of this approach is that it connects niche building more closely to the act of organization building by group entrepreneurs. Third, it is suggested that progress in the niche approach means engaging with qualitative variations among populations of related groups. But to do so, better scaffolding is required to make sense of the strategic choices of groups regarding positioning within such populations. Here I explore one such approach. This chapter explores how the ‘average’ group in a resource-rich environment might be expected to strategize over niche-seeking. While it is expected that groups would seek to differentiate themselves, it is important to also accept (and acknowledge) that there is an imperative to demonstrate conformance or sameness. It is suggested that groups would rationally seek out to be as ‘different as legitimate’. Before proceeding to these three propositions, this chapter first sets out the current state of niche theory deployed in interest group studies.