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Knowledge of how institutions “work on the ground” is central to understanding how macro-pressures shape organizations and their participants. Four examples of the interplay between micro and macro are provided to give a richer account of institutions, both as process and outcome. One, as wider trends diffuse, they are pulled down locally, but the scripts are utilized in divergent ways. Two, as organizations make sense of social forces, these movements are received differentially, with micro-practices and macro-influences becoming entangled. Three, trends can be opaque to those who seek to follow them, resulting in unintended forms of implementation. Four, sociological miniaturism illustrates how the micro captures the macro as lived experience.
Organizational fields are shaped by both the relations that organizations forge and the language they express. The structure and discourse of organizational fields have…
Organizational fields are shaped by both the relations that organizations forge and the language they express. The structure and discourse of organizational fields have been studied before, but seldom in combination. We offer a methodological approach that integrates relations and expressions into a comprehensive visualization.
By mapping networks and discourse as co-constitutive, the method illuminates the mechanisms active in organizational fields. We utilize social impact evaluation as an issue field shaped by the presence of an interstitial community, and compare this structure with simulated alternative field configurations.
The simulations reveal that variation in organizations’ openness to adopting concepts from adjacent meaning systems alters field configurations: differentiation manifests under conditions of low overall openness, whereas moderate receptivity produces hybridizations of discourses and sometimes the emergence of an interstitial community that bridges domains. If certain organizations are open while others remain focused on their original discourse, then we observe integration in the discursive domain of the invariant organizations.
The observations from the simulations are represented by visualizing organizational fields as topographies of meaning, onto which interorganizational relations are layered. This representation localizes organizations and their interactions in a cultural space while emphasizing how meanings of relationships and organizational expressions vary with different field configurations. By adding meaning to network data, the resulting maps open new perspectives for institutional research on the adaptation, translation, and diffusion of concepts.
Interest in developing institutional explanations of political and economic behavior has blossomed among social scientists since the early 1980s. Three intellectual perspectives are now prevalent: rational choice theory, historical institutionalism and a new school of organizational analysis. This paper summarizes, compares and contrasts these views and suggests ways in which cross‐fertilization may be achieved. Particular attention is paid to how the insights of organizational analysis and historical institutionalism can be blended to provide fruitful avenues of research and theorizing, especially with regard to the production, adoption, and mobilization of ideas by decision makers.
We analyze how institutional persistence unfolds. Building on an historical analysis of 3,307 bottle labels in the Bordeaux wine community, France, between 1924 and 2005…
We analyze how institutional persistence unfolds. Building on an historical analysis of 3,307 bottle labels in the Bordeaux wine community, France, between 1924 and 2005, we find that the persistence of a chateau tradition requires considerable effort at maintenance. Instead of greater compression and taken-for-grantedness, we propose that expansion along multimodal carriers provides a marker of a deepening institutionalization. We underscore the role of community organizations in enabling a wine tradition to persist. The implications of our findings for institutional theory and multimodality research are discussed.
The growing interest in the microfoundations of institutions is a significant, yet surprising development given that the theoretical tradition’s original insight was to…
The growing interest in the microfoundations of institutions is a significant, yet surprising development given that the theoretical tradition’s original insight was to account for macro, institutional influences on lower-level units. The call for microfoundations has gone on without really clarifying what institutionalists mean by microfoundations. Some reflections on the usefulness or purpose of establishing the microfoundations of institutional theory are in order. The authors advocate for treating the micro as part of pluralistic and multi-level accounts of institutional processes. Central is the conceptualization of actors as more or less institutionalized identities and roles.
In this chapter, we make the argument that science-based firms in the life sciences are expected to actively expand the volume and scope of collaborations, and broaden the…
In this chapter, we make the argument that science-based firms in the life sciences are expected to actively expand the volume and scope of collaborations, and broaden the kinds of partners with whom they collaborate, as they grow larger, older, and become successful. We base our arguments on a general process of organizational learning in which organizations with diverse ties are exposed to a broader stock of knowledge, heterogeneity in the portfolio of collaborators facilitates innovation, and repeat contracting enables organizations to deepen their protocols for the exchange of information and resources. We draw from these ideas the conclusion that interfirm collaboration is not a transitional stage, or stepping stone, to success or maturity, but a significant organizational practice in technologically advanced fields. Extending this argument, we suggest this strategy of interfirm collaboration represents neither dependency nor specialization but an alternative way of accessing knowledge and resources.
Contemporary life is replete with all manner of rankings, metrics, and benchmarks (Power, 1997; Espeland & Stevens, 1998). From J.D. Power evaluations of cars to Zagat restaurant reviews to US News and World Report ratings of colleges and universities, modern life seems to be deep in the grip of assessment and evaluation. In the early decades of the twentieth century, the introduction of scientific management transformed the workplace, altering relations between labor and capital, and embedding control over the nature and pace of work into the technical organization of production (Edwards, 1979; Shenhav, 1995). In a similar fashion, the current embrace of rankings may reflect a new “Taylorism,” as metrics have the capacity to not only reorder the social institutions they are purported to assess, but also provide a patina of objectivity, especially for the uninitiated.
We examine the origins, acceptance, and spread of academic entrepreneurship in the biomedical field at Stanford, a university that championed efforts at translating basic…
We examine the origins, acceptance, and spread of academic entrepreneurship in the biomedical field at Stanford, a university that championed efforts at translating basic science into commercial application. With multiple data sources from 1970 to 2000, we analyze how entrepreneurship became institutionalized, stressing the distinction between factors that promoted such activity and those that sustained it. We address individual attributes, work contexts, and research networks, discerning the multiple influences that supported the commercialization of basic research and contributed to a new academic identity. We demonstrate how entrepreneurship expands from an uncommon undertaking to a venerated practice.