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Theorization as institutional work: The dynamics of roles and practices

Mena, S. & Suddaby, R. (2016). Theorization as institutional work: The dynamics of roles and practices. Human Relations, 69(8), pp. 1669-1708. doi: 10.1177/0018726715622556


This study unpacks the construct of theorization – the process by which organizational ideas become delocalized and abstracted into theoretical models to support their diffusion across time and space. We adopt an institutional work lens to analyze the key components of theorization in contexts where institutional work is in transition from creating institutions to maintaining them. We build on a longitudinal inductive study of theorization by the Fair Labor Association (FLA), a private regulatory initiative which created and then enforced a code of conduct for working conditions in apparel factories. Our study reveals that when institutional work shifts from creating to maintaining an institutional arrangement of corporate social responsibility, there is a key change in how the FLA theorizes roles and practices related to this arrangement. We observe that theorization on key practices largely remain intact, whereas the roles of different actors are theorized in a dramatically different manner. Our findings contribute to a better understanding of the work involved in the aftermath of radical change by demonstrating the relative plasticity of roles over the rigidity of practices.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright Sage 2015
Publisher Keywords: corporate social responsibility, institutional change, institutional maintenance, institutional transition, private regulation, private regulatory initiative
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Bayes Business School
SWORD Depositor:
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