institutional entrepreneurs – organization studies 28(7)


The term “institutional entrepreneur” has generated a lot of attention among institutional theorists recently. The July issue of Organization Studies, the flagship journal of EGOS, explores this concept in a set of interesting empirical and theory-only papers. The special issue begins with an informative introduction by special editors Raghu Garud, Cynthia Hardy, and Steve Maguire.

The term was introduced, or at least is given credit to, Paul DiMaggio, through a 1988 paper published in Lynn Zucker’s Institutional Patterns and Culture. In this volume he described institutional entrepreneurship as the activity underlying the creation of new institutions.

[N]ew institutions arise when organized actors with sufficient resources see in them an opportunity to realize interests that they value highly…[Institutional entrepreneurs] create a whole new system of meaning that ties the functioning of disparate sets of institutions together (DiMaggio 1988: 14).

The concept has gained significance in recent years because of 1) the need for a better way to grapple with the structure-agency problem and 2) the merging of social movement theory with organizational theory as an explanation for institutional change. Increasingly, scholars interested in innovation and entrepreneurship, more generally, use the concept to explain how industry norms and culture changes to make room for innovative, novel ways of doing things.

Some of the issue’s highlights include David Levy’s and Maureen Scully’s paper about how institutional entrepreneurs represent counter-hegemonic challenges (borrowing from Gramsci) and Michael Lounsbury’s and Ellen Crumley’s article on the origin of new practices.

Written by brayden king

July 10, 2007 at 5:06 pm

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