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Institutional Parasites

Rintamäki, J., Parker, S. & Spicer, A. (2024). Institutional Parasites. Academy of Management Review, doi: 10.5465/amr.2021.0502


In this paper, we conceptualize the institutional parasite and examine its role in institutional change and maintenance. Institutional parasites are a widespread group of illegitimate actors that undermine the institution their livelihood depends on. Through their illegitimate activities, they may alert institutional functionaries: elite institutional actors capable of maintaining and changing the institution. Depending on the functionaries’ reactions we show there are three potential outcomes: institutional drift, layering, or reform. Through our theorization of the institutional parasite, we point to the role of deviant actors in maintaining institutional arrangements, driving unintended institutional change and highlight the ambiguous relationship between institutional change and maintenance: sometimes maintaining an institution requires changing it.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © Academy of Management Review . This is the author accepted manuscript of an article published in Academy of Management Review. The version of record is available online at:
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Departments: Bayes Business School
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of] Text - Accepted Version
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