Institutional transformation through positive textual deviance

Danielle P. Zandee (Nyenrode Business Universiteit, Breukelen, The Netherlands)
Diana Bilimoria (Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Publication date: 30 October 2007



The paper aims to explore an affirmative, discursive perspective for its potential to expand the current understanding of processes of institutional transformation.


First the notion of institutional transformation is discussed and the “discursive model of institutionalization” as developed by Phillips et al. is described. Then the concept of “positive textual deviance” is introduced and defined. The discursive model is read to explore possibilities for institutional transformation through instances of positive textual deviance.


The insertion of the concept of positive textual deviance into the discursive model of institutionalization reveals openings for transformation which are captured in propositions that address the agency of texts and their authors in the creation of desired change.


The paper is unique in its synthesis of three distinct theoretical perspectives – institutional, discursive, and affirmative – in the definition and application of positive textual deviance. Its affirmative, constructionist stance goes beyond a critical deconstruction of taken for granted practice by proposing a hopeful, emancipatory approach that enables institutional actors to become agents of change.



Zandee, D.P. and Bilimoria, D. (2007), "Institutional transformation through positive textual deviance", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 27 No. 11/12, pp. 469-482.

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Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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