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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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Stephan Bohn, Anne Galander and Peter Walgenbach

It is a challenge for companies to simultaneously follow corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the profit maximization premise as principles guiding their activities. Handling conflicting demands is a topic of increasing interest in institutional literature. We use the case of CSR implementation to develop a model of the organizational implementation and handling of emerging conflicting institutional demands. We build on and differentiate between the well-established theoretical concepts of isomorphism, translation and decoupling on different implementation levels. We argue that it is necessary to distinguish between a rhetorical and a structural handling. We further show that companies apply a strategy that creates tolerance for ambivalence.