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Policy change as institutional work: Introducing cultural and creative industries into cultural policy

Jenny Svensson (Södertörn University, Huddinge, Sweden)
Klara Tomson (Södertörn University, Huddinge, Sweden)
Egle Rindzeviciute (Kingston University London, London, UK)

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management

ISSN: 1746-5648

Article publication date: 12 June 2017




Policy change is frequently framed as resulting from governmental strategy based on explicit preferences, rational decision making and consecutive and aligned implementation. The purpose of this paper is to explore the theoretical perspective of institutional work as an alternative approach to understanding policy change, and investigates the construction of resources needed to perform such work.


The paper is based on a case study of the process wherein the idea of cultural and creative industries was introduced into Lithuanian cultural policy. The main data generating methods are document studies and qualitative interviews.


The analysis demonstrates the ways in which the resources needed to perform institutional work are created through the enactment of practice, and through the application of resourcing techniques. Three such techniques are identified in the empirical material: the application of experiences from other fields of practice, the elicitation of external support, and the borrowing of legitimacy.


The study offers an alternative approach to studies of policy change by demonstrating the value of institutional work in such change. Further, it contributes to the literature on institutional work by highlighting how instances of such work, drawing on a distributed agency, interlink and connect to each other in a process to produce policy change. Finally, it proposes three interrelated resourcing techniques underlying institutional work.



This study was supported by the Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies under a grant for the research project “The struggle over culture: a study of cultural policy change in Lithuania and Sweden” (2011-2014) at the Södertörn University, Sweden.


Svensson, J., Tomson, K. and Rindzeviciute, E. (2017), "Policy change as institutional work: Introducing cultural and creative industries into cultural policy", Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 149-168.



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