Institutional Organizational Analysis – Change and Transformation (5 - 9 May 2014)


Professor Roy Suddaby, Alberta School of Business, Canada
Professor Renate Meyer,Vienna University of Economics and Business
Professor Eva Boxenbaum, Department of Organization, CBS
Professor Jesper Strandgaard, Department of Organization, CBS
Professor Ann Westenholz, Department of Organization, CBS

Course coordinator 
Professor Jesper Strandgaard

The PhD student must be working on a research project involving the institutional sociological approach or – if this is not the case – be willing to explore if the approach could be applied. Naturally, the idea is not to push students into becoming institutional theorists, but to make them reflect upon their projects from this theoretical perspective.

The PhD student is required to present a five-pages (maximum) written presentation in which s/he relates the curriculum literature in the course to his/ her project. The presentation must include specific references to the literature applied. Deadline for submission of presentations is Monday 7 April 2014.
The student presentation should provide material for discussion in minor groups during the course, and the student must be willing to participate in discussions of other presentations.

It is a precondition for receiving the course diploma that the student attends the whole course


In the last decade, institutional theory has revolutionized the social sciences, and there is no doubt that the institutional revolution will achieve significance equal to that of the behavioral revolution in the 1950s and the 1960s. At the same time, the social constructionist approach has achieved significant status within anthropology and sociology, and it is currently spreading to a number of other disciplines.

The goal of the course is to give participants a broad overview of organizational neoinstitutionalism and develop their capacity to use the approach in their own work.


The course focuses on the school within institutional theory that is rooted in sociology. Within this boundary, first we concern ourselves with the provocative foundational works of organizational neoinstitutionalism. We will review institutional contributions, exploring the unique, social constructionist approach used by organizational sociologists. Next, we will turn to some of the more recent advances in institutional analysis. Neoinstitutionalists are distinctive in that they are both historical and interpretive in orientation, exploring historical change and transformations in the meaning of organizational structures and practices. We analyze how institutions are constructed and diffused; how institutional elements are incorporated into and translated in organizations as well as how institutional change and institutional entrepreneurship is taking place within specific organization fields. We discuss diverse methodological approaches to the study of institutionalization processes – macro- as well as micro approaches. In addition, we will explore the applicability of neoinstitutional theory and methods to the empirical projects course participants are currently working on.

Learning objectives 

Participants get insights into the historical development of institutional organizational theory and the latest development within this approach understanding organizational stability, change and transformation. The participants also get insights how to use the theory on empirical work, especially their own projects.

Lecture plan 
Monday 5 May Presentation of the course program  and ‘home-groups’
Presentation of participants (who is who?)
Expectations to the course

Renate Meyer: Classic and New Institutional Theory

Tuesday 6 May Jesper Strandgaard: Institutional fields and transformations

Ann Westenholz: Institutional Change and Multi Logics

Discussion of the received papers in 3 - 4 parallel groups.
Each group presents 3 central points from group discussions

Wednesday 7 May Eva Boxenbaum: Empirical findings on diffusion and decoupling

Renate Meyer & Roy Suddaby: Methods in Institutional Analyses

Discussion of the received papers in 3 - 4 parallel groups.
Each group presents 3 central points from group discussions

Thursday 8 May Jesper Strandgaard: Translation of Ideas

Roy Suddaby & Eva Boxenbaum: Institutional Entrepreneurship

Discussion of the received papers in 3 - 4 parallel groups.
Each group presents 3 central points from group discussions

Friday 9 May Roy Suddaby, Renate Meyer, Eva Boxenbaum & Jesper Strandgaard: New directions in neo-institutional analysis


Course literature 

Selection of the preliminary reading:

Meyer & Rowan (1977), "Institutional organizations: formal structure as myth and ceremony"

DiMaggio & Powell (1983), "The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields

Meyer, R. (2008), New sociology of knowledge: Historical legacy and current strands

Powell (1991): Expanding the Scope of Institutional Analyses

Mazza & Strandgaard (2004). ‘From Press to E-media? The Change of an Organizational Field’

Strandgaard, Raffaelli & Glynn (2012). ”Towards a General Theory of the Institutional Field”

Lampel & Meyer (2008). ’Field-configuring events as structuring mechanisms: how conferences, ceremonies, and trade shows constitute new technologies, industries, and markets'

Friedland & Alford (1991). ‘Bringing Society Back in: Symbols, Practices and Institutional Contradictions’ (chapter 10 in Powell & DiMaggio)

Lounsbury & Boxenbaum (2013). Introduction to ‘Institutional Logics in Action’

Thornton, Ocasio & Lounsbury (2012). Chp. 4 ‘Microfoundations of Institutional Logics’

Boxenbaum, E. & Jonsson, S. (2008). ‘Isomorphism, diffusion and decoupling’

Strang, D., & Soule, S. A. (1998). ‘Diffusion in organizations and social movements: From hybrid corn to poison pills'

Westphal, J. D., & Zajac, E. J. (2001). ‘Decoupling policy from practice: The case of stock repurchase programs'

Strandgaard Pedersen, J. and Dobbin, F. (2006). In Search of Identity and Legitimation – Bridging Organizational Culture and Neoinstitutionalism.

Boxenbaum, E. & Jonsson, S. (2008). Isomorphism, diffusion and decoupling.

Lounsbury, M. (2001). Institutional sources of practice variation: Staffing college and university recycling programs.

Suddaby & Greenwood (2009), Methodological Issues in Researching Institutional Change

Schneiberg & Clemens (2006), The typical tools for the job. Research strategies in institutional analyses

Battilana, J., Leca, B., & Boxenbaum, E. (2009). How actors change institutions: Toward a theory of institutional entrepreneurship.

DiMaggio, P.J. (1988). Interest and agency in institutional theory

Lawrence & Suddaby (2006) Institutions and Institutional Work

Lounsbury & Boxenbaum: Institutional Logics in Action (2013). In: Michael Lounsbury; Eva Boxenbaum (ed.): Institutional Logics in Action, Research in the Sociology of Organization, Part A. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 3-22

Meyer & Höllerer (2010): Meaning structures in a contested issue field: A topographic map of shareholder value in Austria. Academy of Management Journal 53/6, 1241–1262

Suddaby, (forthcoming) “Historical Institutionalism”

Czarniawska & Joerges (1996), Travel of Ideas

Strang & Meyer (1994) ‘Institutional Conditions for Diffusion’

Ansari, Fiss, & Zajac (2010). ‘Made to fit: How practices vary as they diffuse’

Suddaby (2010). Challenges for Institutional Theory

Lawrence, Leca and Zilber (2013). Institutional Work: Current Research, New Directions and Overlooked Issues

Meyer, Hollerer, Jancsary & van Leeuwen (2013). The Visual Dimension in Organizing, Organization, and Organization Research: Core Ideas, Current Developments, and Promising Avenues

Westenholz (2014). Conventions and Institutional Logics – Invitation to a dialogue between two theoretical approaches

Byrkjeflot, Strandgaard & Svejenova (2013). From Label to Practice: The Process of Creating New Nordic Cuisine

Boxenbaum (2014). Toward a Situated Stance in Organizational Institutionalism: Contributions From French Pragmatist Sociology Theory

PhD School 
PhD School in Organisation and Management Studies
Enroll no later than 
Monday, February 3, 2014 - 23:45