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Hybrid organizations face particular challenges and opportunities due to combining different logics within one organizational structure. While research on hybrid…
Hybrid organizations face particular challenges and opportunities due to combining different logics within one organizational structure. While research on hybrid organizing has advanced considerably our understanding of how these organizations can cope with such tensions, institutional theory suggests that organizational legitimacy and success will also depend on processes that take place at the field level. We connect these two perspectives to examine how field hybridity influences organizational legitimacy. Specifically, we consider both a field’s maturity and its degree of hybridity as two important variables that determine the effects that field hybridity has on organizational legitimacy. Drawing from extant research and leveraging our empirical work in the fields of microfinance, social entrepreneurship and impact investing to provide illustrative examples, we propose a framework that considers both positive and negative effects of field hybridity on organizational legitimacy. We contribute to the literature on hybrid organizing in two ways. First, we show that hybrid organizations face different challenges and opportunities depending on the stage of development and degree of hybridity of the field they operate in. Second, we suggest that the effects of field hybridity on organizational legitimacy can be understood as trade-offs that organizations need to understand and approach strategically to leverage opportunities and mitigate challenges.
Is the sharing economy a field? Answering this question is crucial to understanding how sharing organizations look and behave, as well as how the sharing economy might…
Is the sharing economy a field? Answering this question is crucial to understanding how sharing organizations look and behave, as well as how the sharing economy might develop. In this chapter, the authors applied two different field conceptions – organizational field and issue field – as a starting point for an explorative empirical analysis. To capture both field concepts, the authors collected relational data and data on organizations’ self-representations to see how organizations engaged in the debate on the sharing economy relate to each other. The observed network of organizations suggests that the sharing economy is an issue field. In addition, the core of this network shows the relational structure of an organizational field. Surprisingly, it is not an organizational field of the sharing economy. Instead, it is a field of organizations heavily engaged in proselytizing new organizational forms that will change other fields. What the authors observed is a new field configuration – the authors call it a disruptive field – that is, less inward-oriented than other fields but much more engaged in changing other fields’ structures and dynamics. With these insights, the authors contribute to institutional research on field configuration and shed light on the phenomenon of the sharing economy and its potential development.
We examine the concept of ‘organisational fields’, a notion employed frequently, but at times with inconsistency, to describe supra-industrial conglomerations of…
We examine the concept of ‘organisational fields’, a notion employed frequently, but at times with inconsistency, to describe supra-industrial conglomerations of organisations with a mutual interest. We find this concept analytically useful in today’s world of rapid technological change and of organisations searching for business across industry boundaries. With our study of smart-city development in Japan, we provide an alternative theory to the predominant socio-cognitive explanations of how organisational fields emerge. Based on our empirical case, the drivers for the early development of an organisational field are concrete organisational actions to assemble the tangible objects of the new field.
European universities have changed dramatically over the last two to three decades. The two dominant frameworks to analyze these changes are “New Public Management” and…
European universities have changed dramatically over the last two to three decades. The two dominant frameworks to analyze these changes are “New Public Management” and the construction of “complete organizations.” Both of these approaches highlight isomorphic processes leading to increased homogenization within European universities. However, empirical evidence suggests that European universities are differentiating from each other at the same time as they are becoming more isomorphic. To explain the simultaneity of homogenization and differentiation among European universities, we use the concept of nested organizational fields. We distinguish between a global field, a European field, and several national, state, and regional fields. Homogenization and differentiation are then the result of similar or different field embeddedness of European universities. The advantage of this approach lies in explaining homogenization and differentiation of universities within individual countries on the one hand, as well as cross-national homogenization and differentiation of subgroups of universities on the other hand.
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.
Field emergence poses an intriguing problem for institutional theorists. New issue fields often arise at the intersection of different sectors, amidst extant structures of…
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.
The discovery of meso-level social orders in organizational theory, political sociology, and social movement theory, what have subsequently been called sectors, policy…
The discovery of meso-level social orders in organizational theory, political sociology, and social movement theory, what have subsequently been called sectors, policy domains, and most popularly, fields (or in organizational sociology, organizational fields), opens up a theoretical terrain that has not yet been fully explored (see Martin, 2003 for one view of fields). In this chapter, we propose that in fact all of these phenomena (and several others), fields, domains, policy domains, sectors, networks, and in game theory, the “game” bear a deep theoretical relationship to one another. They are all a way of characterizing how meso-level social orders, social spaces are constructed. We want to make a bold claim: the idea of fields is the central sociological construct for understanding all arenas of collective strategic action. The idea of fields is not just useful for understanding markets and political policy domains, but also social movements, and many other forms of organized social life. In essence, scholars working on their particular empirical corner of the world have inadvertently discovered something fundamental about social structure: that collective actors somehow manage to work to get “action” toward their socially and cultural constructed ends and in doing so, enlist the support of others in order to produce meso-level social orders.
This chapter presents the main findings of the EU-funded SATORI project on ethics assessment of research and innovation (R&I) in its first 18 months. It offers summarised…
This chapter presents the main findings of the EU-funded SATORI project on ethics assessment of research and innovation (R&I) in its first 18 months. It offers summarised descriptions of the ways in which ethics assessment and guidance of R&I are currently practiced in different scientific fields, in different countries in Europe, the United States and China, and in different types of organisations.
The main findings include the following. Although the most extensive institutions, policies and activities exist in the medical and life sciences, there is evidence of a growing institutionalisation of ethics assessment in non-medical fields. Increasing coordination and cooperation between ethics assessors can be observed at the EU and global levels. Each of 15 types of organisations that were studied performs an important role in ethics assessment, which may not always be well established and sometimes poses significant challenges. Although significant differences exist among the countries that were studied in terms of the degree to which ethics assessment of R&I is institutionalised, all seem to be expanding their ethics assessment and guidance infrastructures.
The findings are an important means by which partners in the SATORI project will take their next steps: the identification of best practices, the development of proposals for harmonisation and shared standards, and, to the extent possible, the proposal of common principles, protocols, procedures and methodologies for the ethical assessment of research and innovation in the European Union and beyond.
Boundaries are a popular topic among organizational researchers, many of whom argue that over the past decade we have witnessed a trend toward permeable boundaries and in…
Boundaries are a popular topic among organizational researchers, many of whom argue that over the past decade we have witnessed a trend toward permeable boundaries and in some cases a blurring between organization and environment. Contrary to received wisdom, we argue that the question as to whether organizational boundaries have become more permeable or not cannot be decided empirically but is mainly a theoretical issue. Whether or not data indicate permeability or impermeability depends on the theoretical lens employed. Against this backdrop, we review how two prominent approaches to the study of boundaries, sociological systems theory and new institutionalism, not only arrive at different conclusions but also mandate diverging avenues of research. We focus in depth on several empirical trends: advances in information and communication technologies, increasingly dynamic fields and markets, invasive transparency regimes, and meta-organizations. We then introduce the contributions in this volume, showing how they elaborate on these and other empirical trends, drawing on different theoretical perspectives, to advance our understanding of the importance of boundaries within and around organizations.
How do transnational social movements organize? Specifically, this paper asks how an organized community can lead a nationalist movement from outside the nation. Applying…
How do transnational social movements organize? Specifically, this paper asks how an organized community can lead a nationalist movement from outside the nation. Applying the analytic perspective of Strategic Action Fields, this study identifies multiple attributes of transnational organizing through which expatriate communities may go beyond extra-national supporting roles to actually create and direct a national campaign. Reexamining the rise and fall of the Fenian Brotherhood in the mid-nineteenth century, which attempted to organize a transnational revolutionary movement for Ireland’s independence from Great Britain, reveals the strengths and limitations of nationalist organizing through the construction of a Transnational Strategic Action Field (TSAF). Deterritorialized organizing allows challenger organizations to propagate an activist agenda and to dominate the nationalist discourse among co-nationals while raising new challenges concerning coordination, control, and relative position among multiple centers of action across national borders. Within the challenger field, “incumbent challengers” vie for dominance in agenda setting with other “challenger” challengers.