This article describes and compares two child welfare agencies of the 1920's with regard to qualities that influenced or inhibited their ability to change. While one agency gave up its institution in favor of foster home care and mother's pensions; the other continued to provide only institutional care. Four characteristics may account for the difference. They are the organizations' networks; amount of "sunk costs" associated with change; ideologies and interests of organization leadership and the agencies' "boundary spanning" activities. If further studies confirm these, then we may encourage organizational changes so that contemporary agencies may meet emerging client needs.