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Book part
Publication date: 26 November 2020

Markus A. Höllerer, Marc Schneiberg, Patricia H. Thornton, Charlene Zietsma and Milo Shaoqing Wang

This chapter provides a summary of the closing plenary at the 2018 Alberta Institutions Conference in which four scholars – Markus Höllerer, Marc Schneiberg, Patricia…

Abstract

This chapter provides a summary of the closing plenary at the 2018 Alberta Institutions Conference in which four scholars – Markus Höllerer, Marc Schneiberg, Patricia Thornton, and Charlene Zietsma – shared their views on how we could once again put the macrofoundations of institutional theory more center-stage in institutional analysis. The first major theme emerging from the panel discussion pertains to the meaning of macrofoundations. While Schneiberg sees institutions as socio-cognitive infrastructures, Zietsma emphasizes their constitutive nature. Second, both Thornton and Höllerer caution that an exclusive focus on either the micro- or the macro-level might remain only partial, and call for more cross-level studies of institutions – and for understanding the micro and the macro as co-constitutive analytical categories. Finally, the panelists discuss how we could break academic silos in institutional analysis and strive for theoretical innovation through interdisciplinary studies, among other avenues.

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

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Book part
Publication date: 30 November 2017

Dennis Jancsary, Renate E. Meyer, Markus A. Höllerer and Eva Boxenbaum

In this article, we develop and advance an understanding of institutions as multimodal accomplishments. We draw on social semiotics and the linguistic concept of…

Abstract

In this article, we develop and advance an understanding of institutions as multimodal accomplishments. We draw on social semiotics and the linguistic concept of metafunctions to establish the visual as a specific mode of meaning construction. In addition, we make semiotic modes conducive to institutional inquiry by introducing the notion of distinct “modal registers” – specialized configurations of linguistic signs within a particular mode that are adapted and applied in the reproduction of institutions or institutional domains. At the core of our article, we operationalize metafunctions to develop methodology for the analysis of visual registers. We illustrate our approach with data from Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reporting in Austria.

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Book part
Publication date: 30 November 2017

Markus A. Höllerer, Thibault Daudigeos and Dennis Jancsary

In this editorial for a double volume on “Multimodality, Meaning, and Institutions” in Research in the Sociology of Organizations, we aim to achieve three objectives…

Abstract

In this editorial for a double volume on “Multimodality, Meaning, and Institutions” in Research in the Sociology of Organizations, we aim to achieve three objectives: first, we provide a set of guiding ideas about what a multimodal prism entails for the study of meaning and institutions; second, we give an overview of the topics, concepts, and methods covered in this volume and briefly introduce the central contributions and insights of each article; third, we outline a number of open questions and fruitful avenues for a future research agenda at the intersection of organization studies, institutional theory, and multimodality research.

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Multimodality, Meaning, and Institutions
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-330-4

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Book part
Publication date: 10 April 2020

Sebastian Vith and Markus A. Höllerer

Over the last years, and under the umbrella of the “sharing economy,” various new social practices and novel business models have been established worldwide. Such…

Abstract

Over the last years, and under the umbrella of the “sharing economy,” various new social practices and novel business models have been established worldwide. Such practices and models are perceived both as opportunity and challenge for existing (urban) public governance regimes. It is in this sense that the sharing economy has become a contested issue and regularly provokes bold governance responses. However, local governing authorities first need to interpret, negotiate, and establish what exactly is “at issue” in order to (re-)act adequately. While such “politics of signification” are well-studied, for instance, in social movements and public media discourse, research on the concerted framing activities of public administrations as well as on the strategic work that sets the stage for public policy-making is relatively sparse – and entirely lacking for the context of the sharing economy. In this chapter, the authors look behind the scenes of the policy-making in the City of Vienna, Austria. The empirical findings unearth six distinct mechanisms –“delimiting,” “negotiating,” “detailing,” “linking,” “justifying,” and “situating” – that are strategically applied to shape the “Viennese way” of governing the sharing economy. This research develops an in-depth understanding of what the authors conceptually dub “strategic issue work”: the manifold efforts that lead to, and underlie, in this case, the policy-making of a local government when it tries to come to terms with the governance challenges of the sharing economy.

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Theorizing the Sharing Economy: Variety and Trajectories of New Forms of Organizing
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78756-180-9

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Book part
Publication date: 12 January 2021

Renate E. Meyer, Dennis Jancsary and Markus A. Höllerer

We review and discuss theoretical approaches from both within and outside of institutional organization theory with regard to their specific insights on what we call…

Abstract

We review and discuss theoretical approaches from both within and outside of institutional organization theory with regard to their specific insights on what we call “regionalized zones of meaning” – that is, clusters of social meaning that can be distinguished from one another, but at the same time interact and, in specific configurations, form distinct societies. We suggest that bringing meaning structures back into focus is important and may counter-balance the increasing preoccupation of institutional scholars with micro-foundations and the related emphasis on micro-level activities. We bring together central ideas from research on institutional logics with some foundational insights by Max Weber, Alfred Schütz, and German sociologists Rainer Lepsius and Karl-Siegbert Rehberg. In doing so, we also take a cautious look at “practices” by discussing their potential place and role in an institutional framework as well as by exploring generative conversations with proponents of practice theory. We wish to provide inspiration for institutional research interested in shared meaning structures, their relationships to one another, and how they translate into institutional orders.

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

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Book part
Publication date: 30 November 2017

Eva Boxenbaum, Thibault Daudigeos, Jean-Charles Pillet and Sylvain Colombero

This chapter examines how proponents of industrialization used multiple modes of communication to socially construct the rational myth of industrialization in the French…

Abstract

This chapter examines how proponents of industrialization used multiple modes of communication to socially construct the rational myth of industrialization in the French construction sector after World War II. We illuminate the respective roles of visual and verbal communication in this process. Our findings suggest that actors construct rational myths according to the following step-by-step method: first, they use visuals to suggest associations between new practices and valuable purposes; then they use verbal text to establish the technical rationality of certain practices; and lastly, they employ both verbal and visual communications to convey their mythical features.

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Multimodality, Meaning, and Institutions
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-332-8

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Book part
Publication date: 16 December 2016

Tobias Polzer, Renate E. Meyer, Markus A. Höllerer and Johann Seiwald

Despite an abundance of studies on hybridization and hybrid forms of organizing, scholarly work has failed to distinguish consistently between specific types of hybridity…

Abstract

Despite an abundance of studies on hybridization and hybrid forms of organizing, scholarly work has failed to distinguish consistently between specific types of hybridity. As a consequence, the analytical category has become blurred and lacks conceptual clarity. Our paper discusses hybridity as the simultaneous appearance of institutional logics in organizational contexts, and differentiates the parallel co-existence of logics from transitional combinations (eventually leading to the replacement of a logic) and more robust combinations in the form of layering and blending. While blending refers to hybridity as an “amalgamate” with original components that are no longer discernible, the notion of layering conceptualizes hybridity in a way that the various elements, or clusters thereof, are added on top of, or alongside, each other, similar to sediment layers in geology. We illustrate and substantiate such conceptual differentiation with an empirical study of the dynamics of public sector reform. In more detail, we examine the parliamentary discourse around two major reforms of the Austrian Federal Budget Law in 1986 and in 2007/2009 in order to trace administrative (reform) paradigms. Each of the three identified paradigms manifests a specific field-level logic with implications for the state and its administration: bureaucracy in Weberian-style Public Administration, market-capitalism in New Public Management, and democracy in New Public Governance. We find no indication of a parallel co-existence or transitional combination of logics, but hybridity in the form of robust combinations. We explore how new ideas fundamentally build on – and are made resonant with – the central bureaucratic logic in a way that suggests layering rather than blending. The conceptual findings presented in our paper have implications for the literature on institutional analysis and institutional hybridity.

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How Institutions Matter!
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-431-0

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Book part
Publication date: 30 November 2017

Melodie Cartel, Sylvain Colombero and Eva Boxenbaum

This chapter examines the role of multimodal rhetoric in processes of theorization. Empirically, we investigated the theorization process of a highly disruptive innovation…

Abstract

This chapter examines the role of multimodal rhetoric in processes of theorization. Empirically, we investigated the theorization process of a highly disruptive innovation in the history of architecture: reinforced concrete. Relying on archival data from a prominent French architectural journal in the period from 1885 to 1939, we studied the rhetorical modes at play in the theorization of reinforced concrete. First, we found that theorization entailed two recursive activities: dramatization and evaluation. While dramatization relies on both verbal and visual (i.e., multimodal) means, evaluation relies on verbal means. We integrated these components into a dynamic model of theorization that explains how visual discourse contributes to theorization beyond the effects of verbal discourse.

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Multimodality, Meaning, and Institutions
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-330-4

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Book part
Publication date: 1 January 2013

Markus A. Höllerer, Dennis Jancsary, Renate E. Meyer and Oliver Vettori

In this paper, we explore how corporations use visual artifacts to translate and recontextualize a globally theorized managerial concept (CSR) into a local setting…

Abstract

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.

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Book part
Publication date: 30 November 2017

Bernard Forgues and Tristan May

A multimodal perspective highlights the importance of attending to the different modes, mostly verbal and visual, which organizations use when conveying messages. We…

Abstract

A multimodal perspective highlights the importance of attending to the different modes, mostly verbal and visual, which organizations use when conveying messages. We complement this perspective by adding an additional layer, namely the medium through which messages appear. We suggest that organizations can fine-tune messages not only by playing with possible interactions across modes, but also across media. We build our reasoning around the communication of identity claims. Specifically, we are interested in how identity elements are referenced in verbal and visual modes of meaning making, and how these modes interrelate both with one another and with the respective channels of communication on which they appear. We propose that organizations differentially select identity elements across diverse media and draw on specific identity elements modally in their quest for legitimate distinctiveness. We propose three ways in which multimodal identity claims interact: intensifying, in which messages draw from the same theme to reinforce claims; complementing, in which messages complement each other to enhance meaning; and transposing, in which a dominant theme in one message is transposed into another theme elsewhere. We provide an illustration with identity claims made by single-malt Scotch whisky distilleries.

Details

Multimodality, Meaning, and Institutions
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-332-8

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