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Book part
Publication date: 5 April 2019

Ravit Mizrahi-Shtelman

Ongoing discussions of the paradox of embedded agency may benefit from considering embedded agency from the perspective of the actors themselves. Drawing upon opinions of…

Abstract

Ongoing discussions of the paradox of embedded agency may benefit from considering embedded agency from the perspective of the actors themselves. Drawing upon opinions of school principals who are encouraged to take initiative in their spheres of authority and yet still are subject to centralized performance assessments, the author redefines embedded agency as a matter of orientation. Secondly, the author presents a new typology for the notion of embedded agency and the way it is practiced in daily life. Finally, the author considers the tension that is inherent to the modern workplace, which is agentic and yet highly structured. From the perspective of school principals, the author shows how the professional role identity of mid-level managers is scripted and thus dictates the domains in which they can present a sense of agency.

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Agents, Actors, Actorhood: Institutional Perspectives on the Nature of Agency, Action, and Authority
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78756-081-9

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Book part
Publication date: 5 April 2019

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Agents, Actors, Actorhood: Institutional Perspectives on the Nature of Agency, Action, and Authority
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78756-081-9

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Article
Publication date: 14 November 2016

Alexander Styhre and Björn Remneland-Wikhamn

Life science innovation is a complex domain of professional work including scientific know-how, regulatory expertise, and commercialization and marketing skills. While the…

Abstract

Purpose

Life science innovation is a complex domain of professional work including scientific know-how, regulatory expertise, and commercialization and marketing skills. While the investment in basic life science research has soared over the last decades, resulting in a substantial growth in scientific know-how, the life science industry (and most notably pharmaceutical companies) unfortunately reports a meagre innovative output. In order to counteract waning innovation productivity, new organizational initiatives seek to better bridge and bond existing life science resources. The purpose of this paper is to report a case study of bio venture hub initiative located in a major multinational pharmaceutical company.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on institutional work literature, an empirical study based on case study methodology demonstrates that new life science collaborations demand both external and internal institutional work to challenge conventional wisdom, making the legal protection of intellectual properties a key factor in the field and that in turn complicates much firm collaborations. Such institutional work questions existing practices and opens up new pathways in life science innovation work.

Findings

The bio hub initiative, which in considerable ways breaks with the traditional in-house and new drug development activities located in enclosed R&D departments and in collaboration with clinical research organizations, demands extensive institutional work and political savoir-faire to create legitimacy and operational stability. Not only are there practical, legal, and regulatory issues to handle, but the long-term legitimacy and financial stability of the bio hub initiative demands support from both internal and external significant actors and stakeholders. The external institutional work in turn demands a set of skills in the bio venture hub’s management team, including detailed scientific and regulatory expertise, communicative skills, and the charisma and story-telling capacities to convince and win over sceptics. The internal institutional work, in turn, demands an understanding of extant legal frameworks and fiscal policies, the ability to handle a series of practical and administrative routines (i.e. how to procure the chemicals used in the laboratory work or how to make substance libraries available), and to serve as a “match-maker” between the bio venture hub companies and the experts located at the hosting company.

Originality/value

The case study provides first-hand empirical data from an unique initiative in the pharmaceutical industry to create novel collaborative spaces where small-sized life science companies can take advantage of the mature firm’s expertise and stock of know-how, also benefitting the hosting company as new collaborations unfold and providing a detailed understanding of ongoing life science innovation projects. In this view, all agencies embedded in institutional field (i.e. what has been addressed as “institutional work” – the active work to create, maintain, or disrupt institutions) both to some extent destabilize existing practise and create new practices better aligned with new conditions and relations between relevant and mutually dependent organizations. The empirical study supports the need for incorporating the concept of agency in institutional theory and thus contributes to the literature on institutional work by showing how one of the industries, the pharmaceutical industry, being strongly fortified by intellectual property rights (i.e. a variety of patents), inhibiting the free sharing of scientific and regulatory know-how and expertise, is in fact now being in the process of rethinking the “closed-doors” tradition of the industry. That is, the institutional work conducted in the bio venture hub is indicative of new ideas entering Big Pharma.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 11 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

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Open Access
Article
Publication date: 10 December 2021

Julie Bertz and Martin Quinn

This paper aims to offer an incremental contribution, augmenting the notion of situated rationality as proposed by terBogt and Scapens (2019). Through insights from…

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to offer an incremental contribution, augmenting the notion of situated rationality as proposed by terBogt and Scapens (2019). Through insights from empirical data, the authors explore the role of situated rationalities of key individual actors in processes of management control change.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative research approach was adopted with qualitative data collected in a single public service organisation through face-to-face interviews, organisation documentation and observations.

Findings

The findings present the important role of key individual actors in bringing about a new situated rationality in a housing department. External austerity forces combined with actors’ experience rationalities acted as a stimulus to change existing management control practices in the management of public services.

Originality/value

The paper conceptualises “experience” rationality, capturing the experiences of a key actor, including elements of leadership style. Drawing on a story of a complex process of management control change, this paper thus reveals interactions between generalised practices and situated rationalities which were not highlighted by the extended framework of terBogt and Scapens.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2005

Keith G. Provan, Jennel Harvey and Jill Guernsey de Zapien

This study seeks to provide an examination of a health policy network operating in a single, small community along the US‐Mexican border. The purpose of the paper is to…

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Abstract

Purpose

This study seeks to provide an examination of a health policy network operating in a single, small community along the US‐Mexican border. The purpose of the paper is to discuss why and how this network evolved, and then to present findings on how the network was structured. Analysis will focus especially on agency involvement, or “embeddedness” in the network, and its relationship to attitudes held by network members regarding trust, reputation, and perceived benefit.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected from 15 public and nonprofit agencies trying to work collaboratively to influence local policy and services regarding the prevention of obesity‐related chronic disease, especially diabetes. Embeddedness was measured in three different ways and both confirmed and unconfirmed networks were assessed. Network analysis methods were utilized as well as nonparametric correlation statistics.

Findings

The network was found to be densely connected through unconfirmed linkages, but much less so when these links were confirmed. Strongest findings were found for shared information. Measures of agency embeddedness in the network were strong predictors of agency reputation, but findings for trust and perceived benefit were generally weak.

Originality/value

From a practice perspective, the study points to the problems in building and sustaining community‐based chronic disease health networks, especially in a small community with substantial health needs. The research also contributes to theory on embeddedness and to methodology for collecting and analyzing data on community health networks.

Details

Journal of Health Organization and Management, vol. 19 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-7266

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 2 April 2021

Jean Claude Mutiganda and Janne T. Järvinen

Research was conducted to investigate whether, and how, political accountability might stabilise when agents are faced with profound changes in external structures such as…

Abstract

Purpose

Research was conducted to investigate whether, and how, political accountability might stabilise when agents are faced with profound changes in external structures such as competition laws and austerity policies.

Design/methodology/approach

We performed a field study from 2007 to 2015 in a regional hub in Finland and worked with data from document analysis, interviews and meeting observations. We have used embedded research design, where we apply methodological bracketing as well as composite sequence analysis for field research.

Findings

Accountability declined when irresistible external structures were the dominant influence on the unreflective actions of agents-in-focus. With time, however, the agents started acting critically by drawing on structures that could facilitate strategic actions to stabilise political accountability.

Research limitations/implications

The field research and interpretation of the data were limited to the organisation analysed; however, the theoretical arguments allow for analytical generalisations.

Practical implications

The research demonstrates how public officials and political decision-makers can eventually adopt a strategic approach when faced with irresistible change in external structures.

Social implications

The research demonstrates how public officials and political decision-makers can eventually adopt a strategic approach when faced with irresistible changes in external structures.

Originality/value

The study locates political accountability in the context of strong structuration theory and discusses how it is redefined by external structures.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 34 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Book part
Publication date: 22 October 2016

Benedetto Lepori

The goal of this chapter is to review the potential of institutional logics theory for the study of higher education. After providing a concise introduction to…

Abstract

The goal of this chapter is to review the potential of institutional logics theory for the study of higher education. After providing a concise introduction to institutional logics, the chapter reviews the small number of studies in higher education that have adopted this approach. It is concluded that most uses of New Institutionalism in the field are still based on its original formulation in the late 1980s, which emphasized the importance of compliance and isomorphism; it is suggested that logics theory could provide a more nuanced and flexible framework, which takes into account the role of (embedded) human agency and the multi-level nature of societal dynamics. The last section of the chapter therefore provides a few directions for future research grounded in logics theory. We distinguish in this respect between the investigation of the field-level coexistence and the interaction between managerial and professional logics; studies of how higher education institutions manage conflicting institutional pressures, for example, through selective compliance; and analyses of the emergence of hybrid practices in academic work and higher education management.

Details

Theory and Method in Higher Education Research
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-895-0

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Article
Publication date: 5 October 2012

Mikko Zerni

The purpose of this paper is examine whether agency conflicts between controlling and minority shareholders affect firms' decisions to purchase non‐audit services (NAS)…

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3812

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is examine whether agency conflicts between controlling and minority shareholders affect firms' decisions to purchase non‐audit services (NAS). The author examines whether client firms engage separate firms for audit and non‐audit functions, especially if the expected agency costs are high.

Design/methodology/approach

The sample consists of 772 firm‐year observations from Sweden where the ownership patterns are highly concentrated. The hypotheses are tested using multivariate regression analyses.

Findings

Empirical findings reveal that higher levels of agency cost proxies are significantly negatively related to both absolute and relative non‐audit fees but, at the same time, are significantly positively related to the level of outside consulting services purchased from non‐incumbent auditors. Together, these findings support the view that client firms are protecting the appearance of their auditor's independence.

Research limitations/implications

One cannot rule out the possibility that there are some unspecified factors unrelated to auditor independence issues that affect both client firms' purchases of NAS and the level of outside consulting services purchased from non‐incumbent auditors.

Practical implications

The research findings have implications for the functioning of the audit and NAS markets. The increasing pressure on companies to improve the perception of their auditor independence by engaging separate auditors and consultants further limits the auditor choice decision.

Originality/value

This is the first paper that investigates whether agency conflicts between majority and minority shareholders affect firms' decisions to purchase NAS. This is also the first paper to examine determinants of purchases of NAS from non‐incumbent audit firms.

Details

Managerial Auditing Journal, vol. 27 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0268-6902

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Article
Publication date: 27 October 2020

Sujeewa Damayanthi, Tharusha N. Gooneratne and J.A.S.K. Jayakody

This paper explores how management controls of a clustered apparel firm in Sri Lanka (Stitch-It) is shaped by institutional field and societal logics, firm's head office…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper explores how management controls of a clustered apparel firm in Sri Lanka (Stitch-It) is shaped by institutional field and societal logics, firm's head office prescriptions, clusters' own attributes and strategic behavior of cluster managers.

Design/methodology/approach

It follows the research philosophy of interpretivism and embedded case study approach within the qualitative research design, while institutional complexity within the institutional logics perspective and paradoxical tensions, organizational attributes and strategic responses to institutional processes provide the theoretical underpinning.

Findings

The findings suggest that market, profession and state logics in the apparel field, alongside community logic at the societal level, develop a state of complexity in Stitch-It and its clusters. At the cluster level, such complexity is further intensified by head office guidelines (on controls), which gets filtered by the organizational attributes of the particular clusters. At this state, paradoxical tensions are developed within clusters, and to mitigate such tensions, key organizational members employ different strategies, which in turn shape management controls of the clusters.

Practical implications

This paper highlights that practicing managers need to be mindful of different logics in the field, organizational attributes, resulting tensions, complexities, strategies to deal with them and their ramifications on controls.

Originality/value

The paper asserts that management controls is a dynamic and a situational phenomenon, which continuously evolves in light of organizational attributes, multiple logics and head office prescriptions. It conceptualizes the “tensions” evident in the design and implementation of management controls, arising due to multiplicity of pressures as “paradoxical tensions.” Although important and relevant to management control arena, “paradoxical tensions” has been scantly explored by prior researchers.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 34 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 1 July 2019

Maurice Yolles

Agency involves dynamic socio-cultural processes that facilitate development. This paper is written in three parts. In Part 1, there are two purposes, the first purpose is…

Abstract

Purpose

Agency involves dynamic socio-cultural processes that facilitate development. This paper is written in three parts. In Part 1, there are two purposes, the first purpose is to intimately connect agency and institutional theory, and the second purpose is to explore the relationship between agency development and growth and globalisation. In Part 2, the purpose will be to explore development with respect to the political context by explaining in terms of culture under what conditions political groups may come to power. Using political frames intended to define their nature and realities, political groups seek to attract agents in their political sphere to gain administrative power. In Part 3, the purpose will be to model, using cybernetic agency theory, the nature of development and its reduction to instrumentality.

Design/methodology/approach

In this part of the three-part paper, development theory is explained as a multidisciplinary field in which research and theories are clustered together and set within an adaptive institutional activity system framework. An adaptive activity system has a plural membership of agents represented by agency. Agency represents an activity system that will be argued to operate through its institutional metasystem. This enables activity system development to be explained as a process of institutional evolution. In Part 1, the problem will be addressed of how the relationship between agency and institution enables institutional change. To resolve this agency will be shown to be institutional in nature, and agency development as a process of institutional evolution. To distinguish between development and growth/globalisation, agency will be taken to have an internal and external context. Distinction will then be made between development as an internal attribute of agency and its consequences, which may include the external attributes of growth/globalisation. It will also be explained that development may have a less desirable condition when it becomes liquid.

Findings

The three-part paper develops a political development theory that identifies the conditions under which formal political groups are able to promote frames of policy to attract support from autonomous agents that constitute the membership of the activity system, and hence gain agency status. Furthermore, Bauman’s theory of liquid modernity is connected to Sorokin’s theory of socio-cultural dynamics and cultural stability. One result is the notion of liquid development, an unstable condition of development in adaptive activity systems.

Research limitations/implications

The implication of this research is that, given additional appropriate measurement criteria, it will allow conceptual and empirical methods to be used that will potentially enable political outcomes in complex socio-political environments to be anticipated.

Social implications

The implication of this research is that it will allow empirical methods to be used that potentially enables political outcomes in complex socio-political environments to be anticipated, given additional appropriate measurement criteria.

Originality/value

The synergy of agency and institutional theories to explain the process of development is new, as well as its application to the political development process in a political landscape. As part of this synergistic process, Bauman’s concept of liquidity is shown to relate to Sorokin’s ideas of socio-cultural change.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 49 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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