Institutional Logics in Action, Part B: Volume 39 Part B


Table of contents

(17 chapters)
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Advisory Board

Pages xi-xii
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In order to advance the micro-foundations of institutional theory, we explore how individuals within organizations experience and respond to competing institutional logics. Starting with the premises that these responses are driven by the individuals’ degree of adherence to each competing logic (whether novice, familiar, or identified), and that individuals may resort to five types of responses (ignorance, compliance, resistance, combination or, compartmentalization), we develop a comprehensive model that predicts which response organizational members are likely to activate as they face two competing logics. Our model contributes to an emergent political theory of institutional change by predicting what role organizational members are likely to play in the organizational battles for logics dominance or in organizational attempts at crafting hybrid configurations.

This paper develops a practice approach to institutional ambidexterity. In doing so, it first explores the ‘promise’ of institutional ambidexterity as a concept to address shortcomings with the treatment of complexity in institutional theory. However, we argue that this is an empty promise because ambidexterity remains an organizational level construct that neither connects to the institutional level, or to the practical actions and interactions within which individuals enact institutions. We therefore suggest a practice approach that we develop into a conceptual framework for fulfilling the promise of institutional ambidexterity. The second part of the paper outlines what a practice approach is and the variation in practice-based insights into institutional ambidexterity that we might expect in contexts of novel or routine institutional complexity. Finally, the paper concludes with a research agenda that highlights the potential of practice to extend institutional theory through new research approaches to well-established institutional theory questions, interests and established-understandings.

In this paper, we draw attention to the influence of the institutional logic of family upon a broad range of organizations, and argue that their significance has not been fully realized within the realm of institutional theory and research. Drawing on extant literature, publicly available documents, and interview data, we highlight the prominence of the family logic in the Italian legal sector, where there is a dearth of family firms and the existence of a competing professional logic that interacts with the familial logic. Our research suggests that, even in a setting where logics of capitalism and profession dominate, the organizational form and practices of Italian law firms are significantly influenced by the family logic: firms remain small, resistant to mergers and forms of internationalization, and have successfully resisted the encroachment of invading foreign legal practices. We discuss the significance of the family logic and its manifestations in organizations, and map out future research directions about how multiple logics interact and reinforce each other in national settings.

In this paper, we seek to highlight how adherence to a dominant logic is an effortful activity. Using rhetorical analysis, we show that the use of rhetorical history provides a key mechanism by which organizations may convince audiences of adherence to a dominant logic, while also subverting or obscuring past adherence to a (currently) subordinate logic. We illustrate such use of rhetorical history by drawing on the case study of Ontario wine industry, where wineries use rhetorical history to demonstrate adherence to the logic of fine winemaking, while obscuring the industry’s past adherence to the now-subordinate and stigmatized logic of alcohol making. Implications for future research on institutional logics are discussed.

In this paper, we explore how corporations use visual artifacts to translate and recontextualize a globally theorized managerial concept (CSR) into a local setting (Austria). In our analysis of the field-level visual discourse, we analyze over 1,600 images in stand-alone CSR reports of publicly traded corporations. We borrow from framing analysis and structural linguistics to show how the meaning structure underlying a multifaceted construct like CSR is constituted by no more than a relatively small number of fundamental dimensions and rhetorical standpoints (topoi). We introduce the concept of imageries-of-practice to embrace the critical role that shared visual language plays in the construction of meaning and the emergence of field-level logics. In particular, we argue that imageries-of-practice, compared to verbal vocabularies, are just as well equipped to link locally resonating symbolic representations and globally diffusing practices, thus expressing both the material and ideational dimension of institutional logics in processes of translation. We find that visual rhetoric used in the Austrian discourse emphasizes the qualities of CSR as a bridging concept, and facilitates the mediation of inconsistencies in several ways: By translating abstract global ideas into concrete local knowledge, imageries-of-practice aid in mediating spatial oppositions; by linking the past, present, and future, they bridge time; by mediating between different institutional spheres and their divergent logics, they appease ideational oppositions and reduce institutional complexity; and, finally, by connecting questionable claims with representations of authenticity, they aid in overcoming credibility gaps.

The institutional logics perspective highlights how organizations are embedded within broader systems of meaning and how this embeddedness activates salient institutional logics in organizations that can enable or constrain organizational decisions, practices, and actions. We investigate a core premise of the institutional logics perspective, that of the alignment of institutional logics and organizational practices and design, in the organizational adoption of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practices. We hypothesize that, in the adoption of practices, organizations will house those practices in structural units that align with the logic emphasized by the practice: when adopting practices reflecting a market logic, organizations will locate them in mainline business units, such as marketing; conversely, when adopting practices reflecting a community logic, organizations will locate them in non-mainline business units, such as corporate or philanthropic foundations. Using survey and archival data from 161 Fortune 500 (F500) firms, we find support for our hypotheses. Our findings reveal how institutional logics serve as underlying lynchpins, connecting organizational practices to organizational design so as to reinforce and enable each other.

How do organizations manage multiple logics in response to institutional complexity? In this paper, we explore how intraorganizational problems related to multiple logics may be addressed via the mechanism of institutional bricolage – where actors inside an organization act as “bricoleurs” to creatively combine elements from different logics into newly designed artifacts. An illustrative case study of a global brewery group’s development of such an artifact – a Responsible Drinking Guide Book – is outlined. We argue that intraorganizational institutional bricolage first requires the problematization of organizational identity followed by a social process involving efforts to renegotiate the organization’s identity in relation to the logics being integrated. We show that in response to growing pressures to be more “responsible,” a group of organizational actors creatively tinkered with and combined elements from social responsibility and market logics by drawing upon extant organizational resources from different times and spaces in an effort to reconstitute their collective organizational identity.

Building on recent theoretical insights from the institutional logics perspective, we examine organizational dynamics in the loosely coupled field of corporate diversity management to develop a theory of the process of logic instantiation. We consider a case in which firms subscribed to the same institutional logic, the business performance logic for diversity management, but varied in adoption of diversity mentoring practices. Employing an inductive and iterative approach to analyze over 50 interviews with diversity managers at large U.S. corporations, we explain how four organizational factors mediated the process of logic instantiation in these firms: (1) the diversity manager’s interpretation and framing of the business performance logic, (2) the formal diversity goals of the firm, (3) the relative organizational power of the diversity manager, and (4) the accepted definition of “diversity.” We discuss implications for theories of social action and diversity management.

Economic theory posits a universal sociocultural orientation toward pricing complicated only by systematic cognitive biases. While institutional and organizational theorists have challenged the purported homogeneity of market logics, they have not linked market heterogeneity to price outcomes. If market logics are internally complex with multiple orientations toward pricing, skilled actors should be able to influence prices through market logics. This study utilizes qualitative analysis of interview data with a stratified random sample (75 percent response rate) of key participants to examine how investment banks (underwriters) instantiate a hybrid market logic in the Initial Public Offering (IPO) market. Underwriters exploit their status position to promulgate IPO pricing methods contradicting neoclassical rationality, behavioral models of pricing, and the underwriters’ own calculative mode of behavior. They successfully create this hybrid logic for issuers while hiding the nature of their market power through deceptive use of vocabulary from the market logic itself. Hence, the internal complexity of market logics directly impacts financial prices, with skilled actors achieving superior outcomes. This study concludes with an assessment of the implications for price theory, developing propositions to guide future research on market logics and pricing.

Institutional pluralism is an intriguing phenomenon for institutional scholars. How the balance among logics evolves within a field and what kind of trajectories a set of logics may experience over a long-term period remain unclear. In particular, extant literature tends too often to downplay institutional complexity by focusing on two dominant logics, and to ignore modes of interaction among logics other than competition. In order to address these issues, we offer a novel methodology for measuring institutional complexity – multiple institutional logics and their change. In particular, we highlight the utility of descendent hierarchical classification models, and demonstrate their relevance by analyzing articles published in a leading French trade journal over more than 100 years to study logics related to workplace in the construction industry. We identify a pool of six field-structuring logics over a period of one century; they reveal the composite nature of such logics, which we characterize as combining several higher institutional orders. Additionally, our results bring to light new mechanisms that can explain the composition of institutional logics.

Much of contemporary institutional theory rests on the identification of structured, coherent, and encompassing logics, and from there proceeds to examine multilevel dynamics or the relationship between logics in a field. Less research directly studies the internal properties and dynamics of logics and how they are structured over time. In this paper, we propose a method for understanding the content and organization of logics over time. We advocate for an analysis of logics that is grounded in a repertoire view of culture (Swidler, 1986; Weber, 2005). This approach involves identifying the set of cultural categories that can make up logics, and measuring empirically the dimensions that mark a cultural system as more or less logic-like. We discuss several text analytic approaches suitable for discourse data, and outline a seven-step method for describing the internal organization of a cultural repertoire in term of its “logic-ness.” We provide empirical illustrations from a historical analysis of the field of alternative livestock agriculture. Our approach provides an integrated theoretical and methodological framework for the analysis of logics across a range of settings.

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Book series
Research in the Sociology of Organizations
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
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