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Short Paper Submission now open until January 16, 2012!!

EGOS SWG 11: Recent Developments in Institutional Theory: The Challenge Posed by MNEs

Deadline: Please submit a short paper of not more than 3,000 words (incl. references and all other materials) by January 16, 2012 at the EGOS website: http://www.egos2012.net The conference takes place in Helsinki, Finland, July 5-7, 2012.


Ayse Saka-Helmhout, University of Surrey, UK [log in to unmask] Royston Greenwood, University of Alberta, Canada [log in to unmask] Suzanne Blazejewski, Alanus University of Arts and Social Science, Germany [log in to unmask]


Institutional theory has provided a rich theoretical foundation in MNE research (e.g. Dacin et al., 2002; Djelic and Quack, 2003). However, most international management scholars have adopted a narrow view of institutional theory where the role of actors is to portray organisations as legitimate to enhance the organisation's likelihood of survival. Institutions are seen as creating constraints on strategic choice through transaction costs, differing resource environments, and institutional distance between home and host contexts (Jackson and Deeg, 2008).


Recent developments in the international management literature have questioned the nature of the relationship between MNEs and their institutional environments (e.g. Kostova et al., 2008). Emerging views suggest that MNE success is not necessarily explained by self-reinforcing processes of fit between organisations and their institutional environments. Rather, they have a lot of discretion and freedom in responding to their environments (e.g. Beckert, 1999; Hoffman and Ventresca, 2002). MNEs offer unique opportunities for institutional change as they have complex and ill-defined organisational fields, are exposed to limited institutional isomorphism, limited decoupling and ceremonial adoption, and engage in political process of interaction and exchange to be accepted by multiple legitimating actors (Kostova et al., 2008). Inconsistencies between different institutional environments lead to ambiguity that can create room for strategic responses to institutions that involve creative interpretation and redeployment for new purposes (Jackson, 2005). Institutional change can result as organisations use contradictions to reflect on the limits of existing institutional arrangements and to inspire ideas for new ones (Hardy and Maguire, 2008). The concept of institutional work (Lawrence and Suddaby, 2006) and its relationship with contradictions in organisational and institutional fields (Seo and Creed, 2002) provide an opportunity to focus on the micro-processes of actors in relation to organisational and societal institutions. For instance, Scandinavian institutionalism has highlighted how agents respond to institutional contradictions through loose coupling, sense-making, and modification of ideas during diffusion. It has also been argued that actors can mobilise resources such as social networks (Beckert, 1999), political, financial and organisational resources (Greenwood and Suddaby, 2006), cultural resources (Creed et al., 2002), and discursive resources (Maguire and Hardy, 2006) to reinterpret or reform existing institutions (Hall and Thelen, 2009). MNEs operating in contradictory settings may loosen complementarities between particular institutions (Deeg, 2005) and draw selectively on institutional scripts to resolve problems or define new opportunities (Hancke and Goyer, 2005) as a result of using their powers in particular ways at appropriate times (Djelic and Quack, 2003), or through 'sociopolitical compromise' between key actors (Crouch, 2005).


With the above developments in mind, we aim to explore how exposure to multiple institutional environments can offer the flexibility to embedded MNEs to instigate change and innovation, and how this challenges institutional theory. We encourage conceptual and empirical contributions that draw on different theoretical streams and disciplines, adopt diverse research methodologies and examine multiple levels of analysis.


Some of the questions that can be addressed are:


*What are the ways in which MNEs as institutional change agents can be studied?

*How can the MNE context contribute to resolving the 'paradox of embedded agency'? What implications do multiple institutional environments of MNEs have for framing agency and institutional entrepreneurship?

*How useful are the existing conceptual ideas and methodological tools in institutional theory for studying MNEs and social agency?

*How can the 'multiple institutional logics' idea of Friedland and Alford be extended to MNEs to inform institutional change at the national level?

*Under what conditions do institutionally-embedded MNEs engage in purposive action towards strategic change and innovation?

*How can institutional theory, in particular institutional change, be advanced through studies of the MNE context?



Ayse Saka-Helmhout is Reader in International Management in the Department of International Business, Strategy, and Entrepreneurship at the University of Surrey. Her research focuses on advancing our understanding of organisational learning as a situated practice-based phenomenon and on agency within institutionally-embedded multinational enterprises. She has published on these issues in journals such as Organization Studies, British Journal of Management, Journal of World Business, and Management International Review. She serves as a senior editor for Organization Studies and is on the editorial board of British Journal of Management.


Royston Greenwood is Associate Dean, Research; and Telus Professor of Strategic Management in the Department of Strategic Management and Organization, School of Business, University of Alberta. His recent work has appeared in the Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Journal, Accounting, Organizations & Society, Organization Science, Strategic Management Journal, Organization Studies, the Journal of Business Venturing, and the Journal of Management Studies. He has published or edited six books including the recently published SAGE Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism. Greenwood serves on the editorial boards of several leading journals and is a founding co-editor of Strategic Organization.


Susanne Blazejewski is Professor for Management and Organization at Alanus University, Germany. Her research focuses on issues of politics and conflict in multinational organizations, the transfer of organizational practices across institutional and cultural contexts, organizational change, and qualitative methods in international business research. Her publications include articles in the Journal of World Business, Competition and Change, books on organizational change in CEE, organizational cultures in multinationals, and institutional change in Japan as well as numerous book chapters.



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