SWG 12: Institutions, Innovation, Impact: How Institutional Theory Matters


, University of Alberta, Canada
, Aalto University, Finland
, UNSW Business School, Sydney, Australia
, University of Rhode Island, USA

Although the question of how institutional theory matters is, in some respects, an old one, we believe the time is ripe to revisit it. Institutions both impact and are impacted by the continuous transformation of technology and other material arrangements, as well as changes in social practices – the habitual ways of doing and engaging with various objects. New forms of organizing, both in business (Uber, MTurk, AirBnB) and civil society (Facebook, Twitter), create novel opportunities and practices, potentially redefining traditional governance structures. Institutions exist because individuals enact and recreate them in their daily activities. Thus, they are inherently dynamic, though not easily malleable. Institutionalized norms, practices, and rules frame actors’ decisions and interactions, positioning them at the root of responses to grand challenges – financial upheaval, climate change, inequality, and refugee issues, to name just a few.

Such an understanding of institutions as guiding our behavior while being continuously transformed requires that we continue to question our understandings of prevailing rules, norms, and behaviors. To some extent, we are still defining 21st century society in 20th century terms. We need to improve our theoretical and empirical understanding of institutional emergence as well as opportunities for actors to alter extant institutions and promote entirely new arrangements. Recent examples include new regulatory or governance frameworks that enable the establishment of novel social sector organizations (Benefit Corporations, Community Interest Companies), new social processes and movements that challenge established structures (the rise of nativist politics, anti-austerity demonstrations), and alternative market mechanisms (peer-to-peer platforms, crowdfunding, the ‘gig economy’) that define entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Accordingly, the time seems right to ask:

  • How does institutional research matter to issues related to technological changes?

  • How does it matter to those interested in the role of strategic action in addressing these grand challenges?

  • How do these issues test some of our longstanding assumptions and understandings of institutions?

  • And what do we, as a scholarly community, have to say about the limitations and power of institutional theory in helping us comprehend and navigate these issues?


SWG Program 2018–2021 [subject to change]

2018 | 34th EGOS Colloquium | Tallinn, Estonia
Institutions, Innovation
Impact: Grand Challenges
Convenors: Silvia Dorado, Dror Etzion & Marc Ventresa
2019 | 35th EGOS Colloquium | Edinburgh, UK
Institutions, Innovation
Impact: Technology, Materiality, and Networks of Interaction
Convenors: Joel Gehman, Candance Jones & Bernard Leca
2020 | 36th EGOS Colloquium | Hamburg, Germany
Institutions, Innovation
Impact: Social Movements and Cultural Entrepreneurs
Convenors: Nina Granqvist, others tbd
2021 | 37th EGOS Colloquium | Amsterdam, Netherlands
Institutions, Innovation
Impact: Inter-institutional Collaboration, Complexity, and Governance  
Convenors: Markus Höllerer, others tbd

About the Coordinators

Joel Gehman is Francis Winspear Associate Professor of Business at the University of Alberta School of Business, Canada His research examines strategic, technological, and institutional responses to sustainability and values concerns. He received the Ascendant Scholar Award from the Western Academy of Management and the Roland Calori Prize from EGOS, among others.
Nina Granqvist is Associate Professor of Management at Aalto University School of Business, Finland Her research addresses institutional work, temporality and institutions, categorization in markets, and more generally, processes that relate to the emergence of novelty and transitions from margins to mainstream. Her work has been published in top journals such as Organization Studies, Organization Science, and Academy of Management Journal, and awarded with the Roland Calori Prize.
Markus A. Höllerer is Professor of Organization Theory at UNSW Business School, Sydney, Australia. His research focuses on the study of institutions, meaning, and novel forms of organization and governance.
Silvia Dorado is Associate Professor of Management at the University of Rhode Island, USA. She is also associate editor of Business and Society and a board member of DePaul Industries, a social enterprise devoted to generating employment for individuals with disabilities. In her research, she has explored topics around processes of social innovation and institutional change as well as the founding, management, and challenges of social enterprises. She has published on these topics in some of the top management journals including Organization Studies.