Edited by Geoffrey Wood and Mehmet Demirbag
Chapter 6: Constitutive Contexts: The Myth of Common Cultural Values
Brendan McSweeney* 6.1 INTRODUCTION A major contribution of institutional theory has been to stress that markets, organizations and individuals are deeply and essentially embedded in institutionalized contexts which do not merely influence and regulate, but also constitute (Meyer et al. 1994). The conceptualizations of such contexts vary along a number of continua including: homogeneous–heterogeneous; closed–open; static–dynamic; constraining–enabling. The processes which shape and change institutions (relatively self-activating designs for chronically repeated social activities) are complex and contested. There is no agreed account (Campbell and Pedersen 2001). Descriptions of the degree, indeed the nature, of agency exercisable in the construction, continuity, change and consequences of institutions also vary. There is a fundamental distinction between the description of the properties and consequences of institutions, and institutionalization – the processes of such attainment (Jepperson 1991). The former is the object of much consideration, especially within the comparative political economy literature (Crouch 2005; Deeg and Jackson 2007; Lane and Wood 2009; Streeck and Thelen 2005, for instance). But institutionalization, the source(s) of, the explanations for institutions, has however not received quite as much attention. A sample of theoretical presuppositions in such explanations includes: a manifestation of domination (by class or other elites) (Dahrendorf 1958; Hancke et al. 2007); a reflection of conditions appropriate for efficiency (Williamson 1975; Hall and Soskice 2001); and an expression of deep-seated psychological orientations (Mead 1953; Hofstede et al. 2010). This chapter considers the latter position by examining a particular notion of constitutive contexts, one which defines...
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