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Constitutive practice and institutional change: ethics and behavior

Louis Beaubien (Providence College, Providence, Rhode Island, USA)

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change

ISSN: 1832-5912

Article publication date: 21 March 2008




This paper aims to discuss the concepts contained in communities of practice theory (COPT) and how they might contribute to greater understanding of organizations.


The paper draws upon COPT as a means to broaden the perspective of institutional theory.


The findings provide insight into the processes surrounding organizational change. The notion of change as both intentional actions and unintended consequences is explored through a review of the case of Arthur Andersen and Company.

Research limitations/implications

The study presents a historically informed case study that presents a novel theoretical approach for examinations of behavior, practices and ethics in organizations. Future work based on broader empirical examinations would enrich the findings presented in this study.

Practical implications

The study provides a means to examine organizations in practice and expands awareness of how behaviors in organizations evolve and might be shaped and encouraged over time.


The study introduces a novel theoretical vocabulary to the accounting academy COPT that has the potential to expand our understanding of organizations through examinations of practice.



Beaubien, L. (2008), "Constitutive practice and institutional change: ethics and behavior", Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 47-66.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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