How Institutions Matter!: Volume 48A

Cover of How Institutions Matter!
Subject:

Table of contents

(14 chapters)

Prelims

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Abstract

This double volume presents a collection of 23 papers on how institutions matter to socio-economic life. The papers delve deeply into the practical impact an institutional approach enables, as well as how such research has the potential to influence policies relevant to critical institutional changes unfolding in the world today. In Volume 48A, the focus is on the micro foundations of institutional impacts. In Volume 48B, the focus is on the macro consequences of institutional arrangements. Our introduction provides an overview to the two volumes, identifies points of contact between the papers, and briefly summarizes each contribution. We close by noting avenues for future research on how institutions matter. Overall, the volumes provide a cross-section of cutting edge institutional thought and empirical research, highlighting a variety of fruitful directions for knowledge accumulation and development.

Abstract

Although scholars increasingly use institutional logics to explain macro-level phenomena, we still know little about the micro-level psychological mechanisms by which institutional logics shape individual action. In this paper, we propose that individuals internalize institutional logics as an associative network of schemas that shapes individual actions through a process we call institutional frame switching. Specifically, we conduct two novel experiments that demonstrate how one particularly important schema associated with institutional logics – the implicit theory – can drive individual action. This work further develops the psychological underpinnings of the institutional logics perspective by connecting macro-level cultural understandings with micro-level situational behavior.

Abstract

Recent empirical and theoretical developments related to the microprocesses of institutional logics have helped to cultivate a powerful theory of agency. We build on these developments to show how the institutional logics perspective can shed light on important questions related to frame construction and how institutions matter. In particular, we show how the emergence of an economic democracy frame in post-war Sweden generated different efforts to define that frame with concrete ideas and practices linked to different logics – socialism and neoliberalism. We show how socialists tried to define economic democracy as requiring a radical transformation in the nature of ownership and control embedded in the innovative financial practice of wage earner’s funds. In contradistinction, conservatives drew on neoliberal ideas and extant mutual fund practices to construct alternative meanings and practices related to economic democracy that enrolled citizens in Capitalism without challenging extant Capitalist ownership structures. While mutual funds and wage earner’s funds initially existed in a state of parabiosis – existing side by side without much interrelationship – struggles over the meaning of economic democracy led these practices to become competing solutions in a framing contest. Implications for the study of institutional logics, frames and the social organization of society are discussed.

Abstract

With this paper we aimed to explore the matter of space as a physical expression of institutional logics. Following recent discussions on the role of materiality in organizational discourse, this study focused on spatial dimensions of institutional logics, namely, spatialized logics. Utilizing Lefebvre’s (1991) analytic distinction among three layers of space – conceived, lived, and perceived – we described the spatial expressions of distinct logics and the spatial relations among these logics. Drawing on a qualitative case study analysis of the world-renowned site of Jerusalem’s Western Wall, we argued that logics take form in space, logics get embodied in different layers of space, and matters of discursive commensurability and leakages also have spatial expressions. To exemplify these claims we undertook a qualitative case study analysis of Jerusalem’s Western Wall. The Wall is a 500-meter-long and two-millennia-old construction. We showed that, while in material and technical terms the Wall is a singular entity, three distinct logics occupy distinct sections along the Wall, and each of these logics reinterprets the materials and technicalities in distinct ways: religious, professional, and nationalistic. These three distinct spatialized logics get embodied in the conceived space (planning and policy of the site), perceived space (comments and opinions about the site), and lived space (behavior and social interaction at the site). Overall, by interjecting notions of materiality and space into the conversation about institutional logics, we demonstrated that in the physical layout of a space, logic cohesion, and interlogic commensurability literally become a “turf war.”

Abstract

Joining recent calls to focus our attention on how institutional logics work on the ground, I offer a critique of current studies of institutional logics that often offer a macro and reified depictions thereof. I suggest that to fully appreciate how institutions matter, we need to complement these studies with a research program that is based on a constructivist ontology, ethnographic methods of inquiry, and use of theories of action. I exemplify this emerging research agenda, and discuss its broader analytical and empirical implications.

Abstract

Institutional complexity shapes what is perceived as possible by framing cultural debates about practices, but organizations in turn shape how logics interpenetrate fields, suggesting that we must consider both the degree of compatibility between logics and the degree of practice variation in a field. Our exploratory study of three entrepreneurial impact finance organizations considers how they situate their practices between the market and community logics. We offer a recursive view that considers how multiple institutional logics shape practices and how entrepreneurial organizations adapt and invent new practices that, through their continued use, can influence the institutional complexity of a field.

Abstract

The construct of “tradition” is commonly used in studies of society and culture and refers to historically patterned institutionalized practices that emphasize the “presentness of the past” in their transmission. However, there is “very little analysis of the properties of tradition” (Shils, 1971, p. 124), especially in the management literature. We draw on illustrative examples from Martha Stewart Living magazine to reveal the use and meanings of traditions and their relevance to understanding institutional micro-foundations in contemporary living. We investigate how organizations bundle various aspects of institutions in their presentation, and seek to advance theory on how institutions matter in everyday life.

Abstract

While there has been increased attention to emotions and institutions, the role of denial and repression of emotions has been overlooked. We argue that not only the expression and the feeling of emotions, but also their control through denial contribute to stabilize institutional orders. The role denial plays is that of avoiding the emergence of disruptive emotions that might motivate a challenge to the status quo. Reflecting on the example of the livestock industry, we propose a theoretical model that identifies seeds for change in denied emotional contradictions in an integration of the cultural-relational and issue-based conceptions of organizational fields.

Abstract

Rigid environments, those with exceptionally strong cultural and traditional barriers to change, present unique challenges for institutional entrepreneurs attempting to initiate change. We utilize such a setting to examine what support mechanisms, both individual and contextual, have been utilized when attempting change in rigid environments. We examine the case of successful and unsuccessful attempts to make golf more inclusive to women. Our research supports the claim that rigid environments require more complex combinations of support mechanisms than other settings, illustrating the importance of institutions in both enabling and constraining change in such settings.

Abstract

We argue that our understanding of how institutions matter has been undermined by a piecemeal approach to temporality in institutional analyses. This paper addresses this shortcoming in the literature. We bring temporality to the fore by conceptualizing practices, which constitute institutions, as understood, situated, and coordinated in time by temporal structures. We elaborate an integrated framework of temporal structures that consist of three types: temporal patterns, temporal conceptions, and temporal orientations – and outline how each type contributes to the reproduction of practices. We discuss the implications of this framework for sustainability initiatives and conclude by suggesting future avenues of research on the temporal foundations of institutions.

Abstract

Despite a legacy of research that emphasizes contradictions and their role in explaining change, less is understood about their character or the mechanisms that support them. This gap is especially problematic when making causal claims about the sources of institutional change and our overall conceptions of how institutions matter in social meanings and organizational practices. If we treat contradictions as a persistent societal feature, then a primary analytic task is to distinguish their prevalence from their effects. We address this gap in the context of US electoral discourse and education through an analysis of presidential platforms. We ask how contradictions take hold, persist, and might be observed prior to, or independently of, their strategic use. Through a novel combination of content analysis and computational linguistics, we observe contradictions in qualitative differences in form and quantitative differences in degree. Whereas much work predicts that ideologies produce contradictions between groups, our analysis demonstrates that they actually support convergence in meaning between groups while promoting contradiction within groups.

Abstract

The closing plenary of the 2015 Alberta Institutions Conference offered an opportunity to reflect on the current status of the institutional perspective and the direction it may take in the future. Our four panelists, Mary Ann Glynn, Tom Lawrence, Renate Meyer, and William Ocasio, reflected on how institutionalists can matter. In a first conversation, Renate and William discussed how institutionalists can matter to different audiences, and whether or not the desire to matter should drive research. In a second conversation, Tom proposed problem-driven research as a means of developing relevant theoretical insights. In a third and final conversation, Mary Ann encouraged us to reconsider the role of institutions and culture in shaping the collective rationality of actors and to reveal what matters in everyday occurrences.

About the Authors

Pages 407-414
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Cover of How Institutions Matter!
DOI
10.1108/S0733-558X201748A
Publication date
2016-12-15
Book series
Research in the Sociology of Organizations
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78635-430-3
eISBN
978-1-78635-429-7
Book series ISSN
0733-558X