To quote wikipedia,
The notion of institution has been created by Joseph Goguen and Rod Burstall in the late 1970s in order to deal with the "population explosion among the logical systems used in computer science". The notion tries to capture the essence of the concept of "logical system". With this, it is possible to develop concepts of specification languages (like structuring of specifications, parameterization, implementation, refinement, development), proof calculi and even tools in a way completely independent of the underlying logical system. There are also morphisms that allow to relate and translate logical systems. Important applications of this are re-use of logical structure (also called borrowing), heterogeneous specification and combination of logics. Recently, institutional model theory has generalized many notions and deep results of model theory.
From my cursory experience with institutions, I can't quite get past the impression that this is all abstraction for abstraction's sake. So I want to ask are there any solid applications of institution-independent model theory to, say specification; or perhaps the machinery solved some open problem in logic/CS?