Recent research develops theory and evidence to understand how organizations come to be seen as “actors” with specified features and properties, a core concern for phenomenological institutionalism. The authors use evidence from changes in research designs in the organizational study of institutional logics as an empirical strategy to add fresh evidence to the debates about the institutional construction of organizations as actors. The case is the research literature on the institutional logics perspective, a literature in which organizational and institutional theorists grapple with long-time social theory questions about nature and context of action and more contemporary debates about the dynamics of social orders. With rapid growth since the early 1990s, this research program has elaborated and proliferated in ways meant to advance the study of societal orders, frames, and practices in diverse inter- and intra-organizational contexts. The study identifies two substantive trends over the observation period: A shift in research design from field-level studies to organization-specific contexts, where conflicts are prominent in the organization, and a shift in the conception of logic transitions, originally from one dominant logic to another, then more attention to co-existence or blending of logics. Based on this evidence, the authors identify a typology of four available research genres that mark a changed conception of organizations as actors. The case of institutional logics makes visible the link between research designs and research outcomes, and it provides new evidence for the institutional processes that construct organizational actorhood.
We thank Hokyu Hwang and the other editors for their excellent, critical comments on this draft. We benefited considerably from the 2016 EGOS subtheme with the same focus, from the papers in those sessions and from many conversations. Jeannette Colyvas was especially thoughtful in her comments at that point. Kamila Nigmatulina has also added value in reviewing our original coding of articles and in enriching the samples of articles that we read and considered. Finally, we are grateful to Robert David, Candy Jones, Bernard Leca, Michael Lounsbury, Jill Purdy, Michael Smets, and Paul Tracey for their feedback on the preliminary selection of papers for our review.
Casasnovas, G. and Ventresca, M. (2019), "Constructing Organizations as Actors: Insights from Changes in Research Designs in the Study of Institutional Logics", Hwang, H., Colyvas, J.A. and Drori, G.S. (Ed.) Agents, Actors, Actorhood: Institutional Perspectives on the Nature of Agency, Action, and Authority (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 58), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 135-160. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0733-558X20190000058009
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