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The moral microfoundations of institutional complexity: Sustainability implementation as compromise-making at an oil sands company

Demers, C. and Gond, J-P. ORCID: 0000-0002-9331-6957 (2019). The moral microfoundations of institutional complexity: Sustainability implementation as compromise-making at an oil sands company. Organization Studies, doi: 10.1177/0170840619867721

Abstract

Research on institutional complexity has overlooked the fact that moral judgements are likely involved when individuals face a plurality of logics within organizations. To analyze the moral microfoundations of institutional complexity, we build on Boltanski and Thévenot’s (2006 [1991]) economies of worth (EW) framework and explore how individuals produce moral judgement in response to the institutional complexity triggered by a major shift in the sustainability strategy within an oil sands company. Fifty-two interviews with employees, managers and executives reveal how actors rely on four types of justification that combine different moral principles and related objects with the aim of either forming (sheltering and solidifying work) or challenging (fragilizing and deconstructing work) a new compromise with regard to sustainability within the organization. Our results show how the EW framework can enrich institutional complexity theory by bringing morality back into the analysis as a core dimension of inhabited institutions while advancing the microanalysis of compromise-making around sustainability in organization studies.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: compromise, institutional complexity, justification work, morality, sociological micro-CSR, oil sands, sustainability
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Cass Business School > Management
URI: https://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/22414
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