Special Issue of Industrial Marketing Management

Call for Papers

Institutional Theory in Business Marketing

Submission Deadline: June 1, 2012


Zhilin Yang,  City U. of Hong Kong & Victoria U. of Wellington

Chenting Su, City University of Hong Kong


Institutional theory provides a non-economic explanation of organizational behaviors and strategies in business markets (DiMaggio & Powell, 1991; Scott, 2008). Institutions regulate economic activities by setting the rules of the game as the basis for production, exchange, and distribution.  It is essential for managers to follow rules, norms, and belief systems related to the institutional environment and mobilize their social, economic, and political resources to adapt and change institutional environments. Scott (2008) has claimed that institutional theory has reached its adulthood. Nevertheless, very limited rigorous research has been conducted in the area of business marketing. As such, scholars have called for further coverage of a wide range of open questions related to the applications of institutional theory in business marketing (Grewal & Dharwadkar  2002, Yang, Su, & Fam, 2012).


The primary focus of this special issue is devoted to how institutional theory can be advanced in the context of business marketing. Specifically, we are interested in exploring two broad, interrelated areas of institutional theory. The first area lies in the development and conceptualization of various institution-based constructs and their inter-relationships with other well-established theories, such as transaction cost economics, and the resource-based view, (Peng, Wang, & Jiang 2008). For example, firms often employ such approaches as isomorphism, decoupling, ceremonial adoption to gain social acceptance from various legitimating parties. How can these concepts apply to marketing practices in channel management?  The second area is to explore performance implications of institutional environments from an interactive perspective (Yang & Wang, 2011). Such interactive perspectives explore how firms accommodate strategic responses to handle institutional constraints and take advantage of institutional capital. For example, how do institutional pressure and process (e.g., regulating, validating, and habitualization; Grewal & Dharwadkar  2002) evoke business strategic actions, which in turn,  affect firm performance?

This special issue of Industrial Marketing Management encourages innovative research with strong theoretical grounding and empirical rigor to explore the following (not all-inclusive) topics:

·         The key implications of institutional environments on firm strategies and performance;

·         How firms interpret, manipulate, revise, and elaborate institutional environments in channel management;

·         The institutional perspective of adoption and implementation of marketing practice in channels;

·         Strategies used to cope with institutional challenges in managing international marketing channels;

·         The effect of institutional environments on opportunism in channel management;

·         The typologies of institutional pressures (coercive, normative, and mimetic processes of social reproduction) and process in business markets;

·         How do firms handle the dilemma of efficiency and legitimacy?

·         How do business marketing managers mobilize their social, economic, and political resources to adapt and change institutional environments?

·         What are the ways in which manufacturers and distributors, as institutional change agents, can be studied?

·         What strategies do firms employ to gain legitimacy in a business market?

·         The legitimacy considerations of a firm’s choice of business partners;

·         The institutional effects of interfirm collaborations in business markets;

·         The effect of institutions on knowledge management (e.g., acquisition, transfer, and learning) and innovation activities in marketing channels;

·         The linkage of the institutional environment to the internal polity and economy of channel dyads;

·         How useful are the existing methodological tools in institutional theory for studying business marketing?

·         The methodological issue regarding the level of analysis (e.g., the interaction among  macro-, meso- and micro-level of institutions);

·         What strategies do managers used to bridge institutional distances between two business partners?

·         The connection of institutional theory with other organizational theories such as resource dependence and transaction cost economics.


Manuscript submission and any inquires should be sent electronically by June 1, 2012 as an MSWord file attached to an e-mail to special issue coeditors, Professor Zhilin Yang, at [log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask] or [log in to unmask], and Professor Chenting Su at [log in to unmask] with a copy to the IMM editor at [log in to unmask], For journal information and how to prepare the manuscript, please access Industrial Marketing Management’s Guide for Authors at the following URL: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/505720/authorinstructions




DiMaggio, Paul J. and Walter W. Powell (1991), "Introduction," in The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis, Walter W. Powell and Paul J. DiMaggio, eds. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1–38.

Grewal, Rajdeep and Ravi Dharwadkar (2002), "The Role of the Institutional Environment in Marketing Channels," Journal of Marketing, 66 (July), 82–97.

Peng, Mike, Denis Wang and Yi Jiang (2008), “An Institution-based View of International Business Strategy: A Focus on Emerging Economies,” Journal of International Business Studies, 39 (5), 920-936.

Scott, W. Richard (2008), Institutions and Organizations: Ideas and Interests. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Yang, Zhilin and Chenlu Wang (2011), “Guanxi as a Governance Mechanism in Business Markets: Its Characteristics, Relevant Theories, and Future Research Directions,” Industrial Marketing Management, 40 (7), 492-495.

Yang, Zhilin, Chenting Su and Kim-Shyan Fam (2012), “Dealing with Institutional Distances in International Marketing Channels: Governance Strategies that Engender Legitimacy and Efficiency,” Journal of Marketing, 76 (3).



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