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The 23rd EGOS Colloquium 2007  

General Theme


Postdoctoral pre-colloquium workshop

PhD pre-colloquium workshop

Roland Calori Prize

EGOS Best Paper Award
EGOS Best Student Paper Award

Colloquium program

Sub-theme programs

Panel discussions


Organizational details

Registration and hotel reservation


City maps



Sub-theme 36:
Innovation and institutions



Michael Lounsbury, University of Alberta School of Business and National Institute for Nanotechnology (Canada)

Sarah Kaplan, Wharton School, University
of Pennsylvania/Philadelphia (USA)

Nelson Phillips, Tanaka Business School, Imperial College London (UK)


Call for papers

Through the 1980s, new institutional research focused mainly on tracking the isomorphic diffusion of established practices across a variety of different fields. However, by the beginning of the 1990s a growing chorus of critiques asserted the need to address the role of actors and the study of change beyond institutionalization (e.g., DiMaggio, 1988; Oliver, 1991; Greenwood & Hinings, 1996; Hirsch & Lounsbury, 1997; Lawrence, Hardy & Phillips, 2002). This led to a shift in empirical research towards the explicit study of institutional creation and transformation, featuring the role of powerful actors such as the state and professions that act as "institutional entrepreneurs" by reshaping the social organization of fields and/or catalyzing the creation of new dominant practices (e.g., DiMaggio, 1991; Greenwood, Suddaby & Hinings, 2002; Lawrence & Phillips, 2004; Lounsbury, 2002; Munir & Phillips, 2005). While recent work has highlighted how less powerful actors may also act as institutional entrepreneurs (e.g., Maguire, Hardy & Lawrence, 2004), this literature has generally neglected the importance of more localized organizational activity. In addition, the very notion of "institutional entrepreneur" too often invokes "hero" imagery and deflects attention away from how institutional change is emergently produced by heterogeneous activity at various locations by actors with varying kinds and levels of resources (e.g., Bourdieu, 1984; Kaplan 2005; Sahlin-Andersson & Engwall, 2002).

In this stream, we seek papers that use the lens of innovation processes to focus attention on the relationship between more localized organizational behavior (intraorganizational and inter-organizational) and broader institutional processes and configurations. Innovation has to do with processes that enable novel artifacts or ideas to take shape (Rafaelli & Pratt, 2006). Innovation often involves a variety of actors and a mix of strategic action and improvisation (Van de Ven et. al., 1999; Weick, 1998). While innovation can be triggered by an individual or group invention, such inventions are rarely, if ever, de novo creations, but build upon extant knowledge and artifacts and occur within a broader context of rules, relationships and resources (Hargadon and Sutton 1997; Garud and Rappa 1994) and are subject to change as they are put in use (Orlikowski 2000). Recent research has argued that this is possible in part because institutionalized routines can be sources of both stasis and innovative change (Feldman and Pentland 2003; Howard-Grenville 2005) and innovation processes themselves are more like bricolage than the traditional linear model of innovation would suggest (Garud and Karnoe, 2001).We are interested in empirical scholarship that addresses topics such as how innovations facilitate institutional reconfiguration and change; and how institutional processes shape particular innovations or innovators both within and across organizations.

In addition, we are interested in papers that aim to shed light on how organizational and inter-organizational approaches to innovation become institutionally structured or change? For instance, technology research and development has increasingly shifted from closed-system approaches where individual corporations control the whole innovation process from invention to commercializing products to an open innovation model where more virtual knowledge structures become foregrounded (Knorr-Centina, 1999), and firms increasingly seek external inventions and knowledge as well as rely on both internal and external strategies of commercialization (e.g., Chesbrough, 2003). This has resulted in fuzzier organizational boundaries (Santos & Eisenhardt, 2005) as well as new kinds of approaches to innovation such as those relied on by open source software development (O’Mahoney and Ferraro, 2007). Open innovation systems are also particularly evident in the recent work on biotechnology (e.g., Powell et. al., 2005) and other arenas where knowledge is complex and widely diffused (e.g., nanotechnology).

This kind of work has begun to highlight some of the interrelationships between wider institutional infrastructures (systems) and innovation processes. However, we need more studies of the mechanisms by which different approaches to innovation become institutionally configured and influence particular innovation paths. Hence, we are also interested in papers that examine questions such as how knowledge structures emerge and consequently shape scientific research and technology development (e.g., Kaplan and Tripsas 2003). To understand these variegated processes, it may be useful for institutional and innovation researchers to engage more directly with the science and technology studies literature (e.g., Latour, 1988; Law & Callon, 1988; MacKenzie & Wajcman, 2002; Pinch & Bijker, 1987). More generally, this stream seeks to encourage dialogue about how more actor-centered and practice-centered approaches to innovation can enhance traditional accounts of institutional process.

About the convenors

Michael Lounsbury is an Associate Professor of Strategic Management and Organization at the University of Alberta School of Business and the National Institute of Nanotechnology. His research focuses on the relationship between organizational and institutional change, entrepreneurial dynamics, and the emergence of new industries and practices. He serves on a number of editorial boards, is the series editor of Research in the Sociology of Organizations and an executive editor of Journal of Management Inquiry.

Sarah Kaplan is Assistant Professor of Management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Her research investigates the role of managerial interpretive processes in shaping firm response to discontinuities and technical change in the biotechnology, telecommunications, personal digital assistant and nanotechnology industries.

Nelson Phillips is Professor of Strategy and Organizational Behaviour at Tanaka Business School, Imperial College London. His research interests include knowledge management, technology strategy, entrepreneurship, and institutional theory. He has recently published a book with Stewart Clegg and David Courpasson entitled Power and Organizations.