Organizing Agents and Institutions (4 - 7 May 2015)


Professor Renate Meyer,Vienna University of Economics and Business
Professor Mary Ann Glynn, Boston College
Professor Fabian Muniesa, École des Mines de Paris
Professor Peter Karnøe, Aalborg University
Professor Signe Vikkelsø, Copenhagen Business School
Professor Jesper Strandgaard, Copenhagen Business School

Course coordinator 
Professor Jesper Strandgaard

The PhD student is required to present a five-pages (maximum) written presentation in which s/he relates some parts of the curriculum literature in the course to his or her project. We prefer empirically based projects. The presentation must include specific references to the literature applied. 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. Deadline for uploading the paper is 9 April 2015.

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


The course focuses on the theoretical tensional field of actor-network theory, new-institutional theory, and the theory of symbolic interactionism (sensemaking theory) with a view to the nature and dynamics of organizing processes. The purpose is to enable the PhD scholar to clarify and formulate his/her own theoretical position and to relate it productively to concrete issues of organizing.


A dialogue between Actor-Network-Theory (ANT), New-Institutional-Theory (NIT), and Symbolic Interactionism (SI).

Actor-Network-Theory has emerged as a new school within science & technology studies, sociology and organization theory. Drawing on post-structuralism and pragmatism it has developed unique material-semiotic approach which has stimulated a range of novel empirical studies as well as a number of theoretical debates with contemporary social science.

New-Institutional Organizational Theory challenges the functionalist explanations of organizational behavior by pointing toward the growing significance of the role of meaning in the production and reproduction of social practice in organizational studies. But New Institutional theory has been subject to both internal and external criticism of having, among other things, replaced the invisible hand of the market with the invisible hand of culture. The criticism has led to various attempts to introduce the role of institutional actors in New Institutional theory.

Symbolic Interactionism and Organizational Sensemaking Theory focuses on inherent complexity and ambiguity of real-world organizations and their environments and understands the creation of reality as an ongoing accomplishment that takes form when people make sense of situations retrospectively – and as such they enact their world.

The three theories have their own distinctiveness but by bringing them together in one course we hope producing productive synergy between them. This happens by asking each theory to deal with three key theoretical problem issues:


Teaching style 

Lectures with workshops, dialogues and student discussions.

Learning objectives 

The participants get insights into the theoretical tensional field of actor-network theory, new-institutional theory, and the theory of symbolic interactionism (sensemaking theory) with a view to the nature and dynamics of organizing processes. The participants also get insights how to use the theory on empirical work, especially in their own projects.

Lecture plan 
Monday 4 May Tuesday 5 May Wednesday 6 May Thursday 7 May
  Symbolic interactionism: focus on power/control, macro/micro, and stability/change (120 min)
Mary Ann Glynn

Groups make three questions to SI (45 min)

Plenary discussion (30 min)
Actor-network theory:
focus on power/control, macro/micro, and stability/change (120 min.)
Fabian Muniesa

Groups make three questions to ANT (45 min)

Plenary discussion (30 min)
Discussion of PhD - projects
Different tracks
(45 min per project)
Course start up
•    Introduction to course idea
•    Short presentation of participants
Jesper Strandgaard Pedersen, Peter Karnøe and Signe  Vikkelsø

The three theoretical figures: ‘fundamental’ ideas:
•    Symbolic interactionism (35 min.)
Mary Ann Glynn

•    Institutional Theory (35 min.)
Renate Meyer

•    Actor Network Theory (35 min.)
Fabian Muniesa
New Institutional Theory:
focus on power/control, macro/micro, and stability/change (120 min.)
Renate Meyer

Groups make three questions to NIT (45 min.)

Plenary discussion (30 min.)
Discussion of PhD-projects
Different  tracks
45 min. pr project
Analysing and writing at the intersection of SI, NIT and ANT
Different groups

presentations from the groups and discussions

  Social evening Social evening  


Course literature 

Provisional literature:
Symbolic Interactionism (SYM)
Barley, Stephen R, Tolbert, Pamela S.  (1997) Institutionalization and structuration: Studying the links between action and institution. Organization Studies:18, pp. 93-117

Blumer, H. (1969). Symbolic Interactionism, University of California Press, Berkely, pp. 1-89

Drazin, R., M. A. Glynn & R. K. Kazanjian. (1999) Multilevel theorizing about creativity in Organizations: A Sensemaking Perspective. Academy of Management Review, 24:2, pp. 286-307

Goffman, E. (1959) ”Introduction”, in The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, pp. 1-16

Weber, Klaus & Mary Ann Glynn (2006), Making Sense with Institutions: Context, Thought and Action in Karl Weick’s Theory. Organization Studies, 27:11:1639-1660

Weick, K. E. & M. Sulcliffe (2005) Organizing and the Process of Sensemaking. Organization Science: 16:4, pp. 409-421

Neo-Institutional Theory (NIT)
Meyer, John W. and Brian Rowan. 1977. "Institutionalized Organizations: Formal Structure as Myth and Ceremony." American Journal of Sociology 83:340-63.

Meyer, John W., John Boli, and George Thomas. 1987. "Ontology and Rationalization in the Western Cultural Account." Pp. 12-37 in George Thomas, John Meyer, Ramirez Francisco, and John Boli eds.  Institutional Structure: Constituting State, Society, and the Individual.  Newbury Park: Sage Publications.

DiMaggio, P (1988) Interests and Agency in institutional theory. In L. G. Zucker (ed.) Institutional Patterns and Organizations - Culture and Environment.

DiMaggio, Paul J., and Walter W. Powell 1983. “The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutionalized Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields.” American Sociological Review 48, 147-160.

Glynn, Mary Ann.  2008.  Beyond Constraint: How Institutions Enable Identities.  In R. Greenwood, C. Oliver, S. Sahlin-Andersson & R. Suddaby (Eds.) The SAGE Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism  (pp. 413-430).  London: Sage.

Meyer, Renate. 2008. New sociology of knowledge: Historical legacy and contributions to current debates in institutional research. In R. Greenwood, C. Oliver, S. Sahlin-Andersson & R. Suddaby (Eds.) The SAGE Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism  (pp. 517-536). London: Sage.

Lounsbury, Michael 2007.  A Tale of Two Cities: Competing Logics and Practice Variation in the Professionalizing of Mutual Funds.  Academy of Management Journal, 50: 289-307.

Westenholz, Ann. 2006. Identity Work and Meaning Arena - beyond actor/structure and micro/macro destinations in an empirical analysis of IT Workers. American Behavior Scientist , 49:7:1015-1029.

Actor-Network-Theory (ANT)
Akrich, M. (1992) ‘The de-scription of technical objects’, in W. E. Bijker and J. Law (eds.) Shaping technology / building society: Studies in sociotechnical change, Cambridge (Massachusetts): MIT Press, pp. 205-224.

Callon, M. (1991) ‘Techno-economic networks and irreversibility’, in J. Law (ed.) A sociology of monsters: Essays on power, technology and domination, Oxford: Blackwell, pp.132-164.

Latour, B. (1991) ‘Technology is society made durable’, in J. Law (ed.) A sociology of monsters: Essays on power, technology and domination, Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 103-131.

Callon, M. (1986) ‘Some elements of a sociology of translation: domestication of the scallops and the fishermen of St Brieuc Bay’, in J. Law (ed.) Power, action and belief: A new sociology of knowledge?, London: Routledge, pp. 196-233.

Callon, M. and Latour, B. (1981) ‘Unscrewing the Big Leviathan: how actors macrostructure reality and how sociologists help them to do so’, in K. D. Knorr Cetina and A. V. Cicourel (eds.) Advances in social theory and methodology: Toward an integration of micro- and macro-sociologies, Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, pp. 277-303.

Latour, B. (1983) ‘Give me a laboratory and I will raise the world’, in K. D. Knorr-Cetina and M. Mulkay (eds.) Science observed: New perspectives on the social studies of science, London: Sage, pp. 141-170.

Suggested readings:

Symbolic Interactionism (SYM)
Towards a restructuring of social theory and methodology. In Knorr-Cetina & A.V. Cicourel (eds.) Advances in social theory and methodology, pp. 1-47

Neo-Institutional Theory (NIT)
Friedland, R. and R. Alford (1991) Bringing Society Back In: Symbols, Practices, and Institutional Contradictions. In Powell, W.W. and P.J. DiMaggio (eds.) The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Strandgaard Pedersen, J. and F. Dobbin, (2006). ‘In Search of Identity and Legitimation – Bridging Organizational Culture and Neoinstitutionalism’. American Behavioral Scientist . Special issue, vol. 49 (7) March (pp. 897-907). Sage Periodicals Press.

Actor-Network-Theory (ANT)
Callon, M. 1998 'Introduction: the embeddedness of economic markets in economics', in M. Callon (ed.) The Laws of the Markets, Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 1-57.

Callon, M. 2007 'What does it mean to say that economics is performative?' in D. MacKenzie, F. Muniesa and L. Siu (eds) Do economists make markets? On the performativity of economics, Princeton: Princeton University Press, pp. 311-357.

Callon, M. and Muniesa, F. 2005 'Economic markets as calculative collective devices', Organization Studies 26(8), pp. 1229-1250.

Cooren, F. 2004 'Textual agency: how texts do things in organizational settings', Organization 11(3): pp. 373-393.

Doganova, L. and Eyquem-Renault, M. 2009 'What do business models do? Innovation devices in technology entrepreneurship', Research Policy 38(10): 1559-1570.

Garud, R., Gehman, J. and Karnøe, P. 2010 'Categorization by association: nuclear technology and emission-free electricity', in L. A. Keister (ed) Institutions and entrepreneurship (Research in the sociology of work, volume 21), Bingley: Emerald Group, pp. 51-93.

Mitchell, T. 2010 'The resources of economics: making the 1973 Oil Crisis', Journal of Cultural Economy 3(2): 181-204.

Muniesa, F., Millo, Y. and Callon, M. 2007 'An introduction to market devices', in M. Callon, Y. Millo and F. Muniesa (eds) Market devices, Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 1-12.

Muniesa, F. 2007 'Market technologies and the pragmatics of prices', Economy and Society 36(3): 377-395.

PhD School 
PhD School in Organisation and Management Studies
Enroll no later than 
Thursday, February 26, 2015 (All day)