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Christopher W. J. Steele and Timothy R. Hannigan

Talk of “macrofoundations” helps foreground the constitutive and contextualizing powers of institutions – dynamics that are inadvertently obscured by the imagery of…

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Talk of “macrofoundations” helps foreground the constitutive and contextualizing powers of institutions – dynamics that are inadvertently obscured by the imagery of microfoundations. Highlighting these aspects of institutions in turn opens intriguing lines of inquiry into institutional reproduction and change, lived experience of institutions, and tectonic shifts in institutional configurations. However, there is a twist: taking these themes seriously ultimately challenges any naïve division of micro and macro, and undermines the claim of either to a genuinely foundational role in social analysis. The authors propose an alternative “optometric” imagery – positioning the micro and the macro as arrays of associated lenses, which bring certain things into focus at the cost of others. The authors argue that this imagery should not only encourage analytic reflexivity (“a more optometric institutionalism”) but also draw attention to the use of such lenses in everyday life, as an underexplored but critical phenomenon for institutional theory and research (“an institutionalist optometry”).

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Macrofoundations: Exploring the Institutionally Situated Nature of Activity
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-160-5

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Macrofoundations: Exploring the Institutionally Situated Nature of Activity
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-160-5

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Joel Gehman

The concept of institution has been used by scholars from across a number of disciplines to explain a wide variety of phenomena. However, the philosophical roots of this…

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The concept of institution has been used by scholars from across a number of disciplines to explain a wide variety of phenomena. However, the philosophical roots of this concept have not been well examined, nor have implications for contemporary institutional analysis been fully appreciated. Returning to the works of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty reveals a depth of thinking that has otherwise been overlooked by institutional theorists. In particular, the author’s analysis reveals two critical insights. First, whereas organizational scholars have closely linked the concepts of institution and taken-for-grantedness, these two concepts were originally understood to be phenomenologically distinct. Second, a detailed examination of Merleau-Ponty’s later work poses the concept of flesh – the twining of the visible and the invisible – as the basis for the interplay of institutions. In turn, the idea of flesh as the foundation of institution invites a more radical reimagining of the growing bifurcation between microfoundations and macrofoundations.

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Macrofoundations: Exploring the Institutionally Situated Nature of Activity
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-160-5

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Timothy R. Hannigan and Guillermo Casasnovas

Field emergence poses an intriguing problem for institutional theorists. New issue fields often arise at the intersection of different sectors, amidst extant structures of…

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Field emergence poses an intriguing problem for institutional theorists. New issue fields often arise at the intersection of different sectors, amidst extant structures of meanings and actors. Such nascent fields are fragmented and lack clear guides for action; making it unclear how they ever coalesce. The authors propose that provisional social structures provide actors with macrosocial presuppositions that shape ongoing field-configuration; bootstrapping the field. The authors explore this empirically in the context of social impact investing in the UK, 2000–2013, a period in which this field moved from clear fragmentation to relative alignment. The authors combine different computational text analysis methods, and data from an extensive field-level study, to uncover meaningful patterns of interaction and structuration. Our results show that across various periods, different types of actors were linked together in discourse through “actor–meaning couplets.” These emergent couplings of actors and meanings provided actors with social cues, or macrofoundations, which guided their local activities. The authors thus theorize a recursive, co-constitutive process: as punctuated moments of interaction generate provisional structures of actor–meaning couplets, which then cue actors as they navigate and constitute the emerging field. Our model re-energizes the core tenets of new structuralism and contributes to current debates about institutional emergence and change.

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Macrofoundations: Exploring the Institutionally Situated Nature of Activity
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-160-5

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Christopher W. J. Steele, Madeline Toubiana and Royston Greenwood

The core goal of the “micro-foundational” agenda appears to be less an institutionalism founded in the micro, or reduced to the micro, and more some form of integrative…

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The core goal of the “micro-foundational” agenda appears to be less an institutionalism founded in the micro, or reduced to the micro, and more some form of integrative institutionalism: that is, an institutionalism that does justice to the perpetual, co-constitutive interplay of local activities (the micro) and trans-local patterns (the macro). In this chapter, thus, the authors argue for a conscious, explicit embrace of integrative institutionalism; and of the broader agenda that this terminology opens up. Based on this overdue rewording the authors highlight additional problems and possibilities – providing a constructive reformulation and elaboration of the “micro-foundational” agenda as it currently stands.

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Christopher W. J. Steele

This paper is based on a presentation at a conference in 2019, which called on participants to explore the merits of more practice-theoretical conceptualizations of…

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This paper is based on a presentation at a conference in 2019, which called on participants to explore the merits of more practice-theoretical conceptualizations of institutions and institutional logics. The main body of the paper is a lightly edited version of the presentation, which explores three interwoven topics: First, why an avowedly practice-theoretic institutionalism might be analytically fertile; second, what horizons might be generated for institutional logicians by an intensified embrace of practice theory; and third, what these analytic potentialities might entail for the “peopling” of institutional theory. The tone and purpose of the paper are exploratory; though provisional conclusions are elaborated in an analytic epilogue. Purposefully provocative claims include that institutional logics may possess some form of intentionality, or a distinctive orientation toward the world, and that such orientations may differentially encourage jurisdictional expansion.

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On Practice and Institution: Theorizing the Interface
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ISBN: 978-1-80043-413-4

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Macrofoundations: Exploring the Institutionally Situated Nature of Activity
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-160-5

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Mary Ann Glynn

In this reflective piece, the author engages with several themes that are oriented to the past, present, and future of institutional theory, to offer fresh insights for…

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In this reflective piece, the author engages with several themes that are oriented to the past, present, and future of institutional theory, to offer fresh insights for the next generation of theorizing. The author looks backward, tracing prevailing assumptions by investigating the language of theorization over the last eight decades, focusing on the frequency of use of nouns, adjectives, and verbs. What the author finds is a continuing emphasis on relatively static views of institutions and their permanence, indicated by the abundant use of nouns, but a relative neglect of more dynamic processes of institutionalization, reflected in verbs. Leveraging these observations, the author looks ahead, to identify fertile areas for theorization, including a consideration of the antithesis and/or synthesis between relating macrofoundations and microfoundations as antithesis or synthesis; examining the characteristics of institutional fields as contingencies of institutionization; and exploring the language of institutional theorization.

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Macrofoundations: Exploring the Institutionally Situated Nature of Activity
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-160-5

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Isabel Brüggemann, Jochem Kroezen and Paul Tracey

This study gives insights into how marginalized logics evolve after having been replaced by a new dominant logic. In light of the case of UK trade book publishing where an…

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This study gives insights into how marginalized logics evolve after having been replaced by a new dominant logic. In light of the case of UK trade book publishing where an editorial logic persisted and morphed after the increasing commercialization of the field – epitomized by the proliferation of so-called “factory fiction” – the authors identify three generative paths of marginalized logic evolution: preservation, purification and radicalization. The authors show how these paths hinge on the activities of three groups of actors who resist conforming to a dominant logic. The findings of this study advance scholars’ understanding of the historical evolution of institutional logics, but also remind them that the acts of resistance are typically embedded in macro-level dynamics related to broader institutional processes. In particular, this study sheds light on the different ways in which acts of resistance may be structured by actors’ experience of friction between competing institutional logics.

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Macrofoundations: Exploring the Institutionally Situated Nature of Activity
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-160-5

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Brett Crawford and M. Tina Dacin

In this chapter, the authors adopt a macrofoundations perspective to explore punishment within institutional theory. Institutional theorists have long focused on a single…

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In this chapter, the authors adopt a macrofoundations perspective to explore punishment within institutional theory. Institutional theorists have long focused on a single type of punishment – retribution – including the use of sanctions, fines, and incarceration to maintain conformity. The authors expand the types of punishment that work to uphold institutions, organized by visible and hidden, and formal and informal characteristics. The four types of punishment include (1) punishment-as-retribution; (2) punishment-as-charivari; (3) punishment-as-rehabilitation; and (4) punishment-as-vigilantism. The authors develop important connections between punishment-as-charivari, which relies on shaming efforts, and burgeoning interest in organizational stigma and social evaluations. The authors also point to informal types of punishment, including punishment-as-vigilantism, to expand the variety of actors that punish wrongdoing, including actors without the legal authority to do so. Finally, the authors detail a number of questions for each type of punishment as a means to generate a future research agenda.

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Macrofoundations: Exploring the Institutionally Situated Nature of Activity
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-160-5

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