Institutional Work: Actors and Agency in Institutional Studies of Organizations

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The 'institutional' approach to organizational research has shown how enduring features of social life - such as marriage and bureaucracy - act as mechanisms of social control. Such approaches have traditionally focused attention on the relationships between organizations and the fields in which they operate, providing strong accounts of the processes through which institutions govern action. In contrast, the study of institutional work reorients these traditional concerns, shifting the focus to understanding how action affects institutions. This book sets a research agenda within the field of institutional work by analyzing the ways in which individuals, groups, and organizations work to create, maintain, and disrupt the institutions that structure their lives. Through a series of essays and case studies, it explores the conceptual core of institutional work, identifies institutional work strategies, provides exemplars for future empirical research, and embeds the concept within broader sociological debates and ideas.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Max Weber told us that institutions cannot be understood without considering the historical aggregation of individual activities. For many years, though, institutional theory had done little with this insight, focusing instead on the role of institutions as powerful social constraints. Priorities have clearly changed and this volume belongs with the contemporary lively ‘deconstruction’ of the institutional ‘iron cage.’ It is a welcome and timely contribution, demonstrating through a series of rich empirical explorations that institutions are created, changed and maintained through work, activities, practices, and discourses. We need more books of this kind, emphasizing the conflictual, messy, contradictory, ambiguous, processual, and ongoing nature of institutional work.”
Marie-Laure Djelic, Professor, ESSEC Business School

“The concept of institutional work is one of the most exciting conceptual developments in institutional theory in the last decade. It provides an invaluable conceptual framework for understanding the institutional effects of purposeful action and has connected conversations about institutional maintenance and change in a powerful new way. In this volume, Lawrence, Suddaby, and Leca expand on their early work on the topic and bring together an impressive group of scholars to further develop the concept through inspired theorizing and direct empirical application. This book is an absolute must for anyone interested in the future of institutional theory. I highly recommend you read it today!”
Nelson Phillips, Professor of Strategy and Organizational Behaviour, Imperial College Business School

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521518550
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 8/31/2009
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

List of figures; List of tables; List of contributors; 1. Introduction: theorizing and studying institutional work Thomas B. Lawrence, Roy Suddaby and Bernard Leca; Part I. Essays on Institutional Work: 2. Institutional work and the paradox of embedded agency Julie Battilana and Thomas D'Aunno; 3. Leadership as institutional work: a bridge to the other side Matthew S. Kraatz; 4. Bringing change into the lives of the poor: entrepreneurship outside traditional boundaries Ignasi Marti and Johanna Mair; 5. Institutional work as the creative embrace of contradiction Timothy J. Hargrave and Andrew H. Van de Ven; Part II. Studies of Institutional Work: 6. Building the iron cage: institutional creation work in the context of competing proto-institutions Charlene Zietsma and Brent McKnight; 7. Scandinavian institutionalism - a case of institutional work Eva Boxenbaum and Jesper Strandgaard Pedersen; 8. Institutional maintenance as narrative acts Tammar B. Zilber; 9. Maintaining an institution in a contested organizational field: the work of AACSB and its constituents Christine Quinn Trank and Marvin Washington; 10. Institutional 'dirty' work: preserving institutions through strategic decoupling Paul M. Hirsch and Y. Sekou Bermiss; 11. Doing which work? A practice approach to institutional pluralism Paula Jarzabkowski, Jane Matthiesen and Andrew H. Van de Ven; Index.
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