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Christina Berg Johansen and Susanne Boch Waldorff

Christina Berg Johansen and Susanne Boch Waldorff explore the theoretical foundation and analytical contributions of the institutional logics perspective. They identify two fundamental topics: 1) how institutional logics both guide and are guided by overarching institutional orders, and 2) how inter-logics relations create friction and space for change and agency. They use examples from different empirical papers to support and illustrate their investigation of these two topics. Further, they discuss how institutional logics contribute to institutional theory at large and inform our understanding of organizations in society.

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The value of institutional logics

Topics and Issues from European Research

Roger Friedland

Roger Friedland brings back the significance of values to the debate on institutional logics. He argues that without values, institutional theory neglects the ‘why’, the purpose that drives humans and is core to the formation of societies. He argues that the loss of values in North American theorizing is related to the desire to leave behind the shadow of Parsons’ theoretical architecture – a desire, we might say, European researchers never knew. Building on, but also departing from, an array of foundational thinkers from sociology, philosophy, and political science, Friedland lays out that institutional logics have a value grounding – an institutional substance that is enacted through practices around objects carried by subjects and categorized by names this substance constitutes.

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Stephan Bohn and Peter Walgenbach

Stephan Bohn and Peter Walgenbach address institutional complexity and organizational strategies dealing with conflicting institutional demands. By using a politically highly sensitive case – nuclear power – and analyzing media articles over a 15-year period, they bring attention to the contradicting and dynamic nature of the multiple institutional demands that organizations have to cope with. They show how German atomic power plant organizations played off different contradicting demands against each other, thereby negotiating the requirements with institutional stakeholders. This not only presents organizations as active agents in defining institutional demands, it also stresses that such demands are interwoven with broader political issues (in their case, climate change, safety of nuclear power, state’s dependence/independence from politically unstable regions, etc.) and can be highly controversial and dynamic.

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Marco Bottura, Raffaele Corrado, Bernard Forgues and Vincenza Odorici

Marco Bottura, Raffaele Corrado, Bernard Forgues, and Vincenza Odorici focus on the issue of field-level change by discussing the transformation of the Italian wine industry. Conceptually, apart from different strands of institutional thought, they make particular use of the sociology of professions and the concept of boundary objects in the social studies of science and technology. By applying network analysis, they show the emergence of a new field structure where experts, consultants, ratings and rankings increasingly shape the field. Professional winemakers are of outstanding importance here, as they spread their expert knowledge throughout the network and connect wineries and, ultimately, their products in a hitherto unknown way.

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Organizing vigilante lynching: a neo-institutional perspective

Topics and Issues from European Research

Thomas Klatetzki

Thomas Klatetzki aims at explaining the practice of lynching with the help of institutional theory. His chapter starts with the description of a lynching event in Tláhuac (a borough of Mexico City), which forms a base to discuss the constitutive role of violence for social orders. His key argument is that the institution of punishment enables a group of vigilantes to organize and implement violent action and that, in the course of this process, violence generates social solidarity. Central in his chapter is the idea of ‘vigilante lynching as a distributed punishment script’. Klatetzki concludes with some brief comments on the regulative pillar of institutionalist organizational theory.

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Carmelo Mazza and Jesper Strandgaard Pedersen

Carmelo Mazza and Jesper Strandgaard Pedersen explore the role of timing for field-configuring events. In particular, they explore how big cities lately adopting the practice of international film festivals differ in the way they enact the vision of an international film festival with contents and practices primarily stemming from institutionalized standards. In their study of two festivals in two geographically and socially distinct contexts, Italy and its capital city, Rome, and Denmark and its capital city, Copenhagen, they show that time seems to be a factor that increases the variety of practices within a field. Contrary to conventional wisdom in institutional theory, late adopters may bring ideas of innovation and different practices, rather than producing homogeneity in field-configuration processes.

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Georg Krücken, Renate E. Meyer and Peter Walgenbach

In the introduction to the volume, Georg Krücken, Renate Meyer and Peter Walgenbach sketch the origins and the development of the European network of scholars interested in new institutionalism. Further, they provide an overview of the content of the volume at hand.

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New Themes in Institutional Analysis

Topics and Issues from European Research

Edited by Georg Krücken, Carmelo Mazza, Renate E. Meyer and Peter Walgenbach

Institutional theory has become one of the dominant organizational approaches in recent decades. Its roots can be traced to Europe, and an important intellectual objective of this book is to examine North American theory strands and reconnect them with European research traditions. In addition, this book focuses on how organizations and individuals handle heterogeneous and challenging social conditions which are subsequently reflected in various forms of change.
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Elke Weik

The chapter by Elke Weik provides an innovative theoretical take on institutional substances as ‘living forms’. Weik draws on a variety of philosophical traditions on substances, essences, and forms, and understands institutional substances as dynamic and active, striving for self-preservation and reproduction, thereby stressing the agency of institutions themselves. This processual and agentic, but ephemeral nature of substances is captured in the grammatical metaphor of the ‘adverb’, since institutions are ways of seeing, thinking, and feeling about things rather than things themselves. To avoid reifying institutions, Weik understands them as ‘events’ and ‘experiences’ with an affective and embodied impact that goes beyond rationalized cognition. She wraps up the chapter with an appeal for methodological approaches to institutions that refrain from claiming mastery over its object, borrowing from Goethe’s idea of ‘delicate empirics’ and Shotter’s concept of ‘with-ness’ thinking to achieve genuine understanding instead of explanation.

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Walter W. Powell, Achim Oberg, Valeska Korff, Carrie Oelberger and Karina Kloos

Walter Powell, Achim Oberg, Valeska Korff, Carrie Oelberger and Karina Kloos deal with the processes and mechanisms of organizational change and field transformation. On the one hand, this is a classical topic of neo-institutional theory and research, and the authors make use of an impressive array of knowledge from previous studies here. On the other hand, and based on that ‘intellectual history’ as the authors call it, they conduct a highly innovative study by focusing on new organizational forms and field transformation in the nonprofit sector. To underline innovativeness, the authors have developed a web crawler in order to determine change by analyzing organizations’ websites and their references to other organizations through hyperlinks. By doing so, they identify the diversity and dynamics of organizational fields whose boundaries are becoming increasingly porous.