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Introduction: On Practice and Institution 

with Michael Lounsbury and Paul Spee 

Volumes 70 and 71 of Research in the Sociology of Organizations combine to comprise cutting-edge theory and empirical scholarship at the interface of practice and institution in organization studies. As we highlight, this interface has spurred particularly generative conversations with many open questions, and much to explore. We provide a review of scholarly developments in practice theory and organizational institutionalism that have given rise to this interest in building a bridge between scholarly communities. As signaled by recent efforts to construct a practice-driven institutionalism (hereafter PDI), we highlight how connecting practice theory with the institutional logics perspective provides a particularly attractive focal point for scholarship at this interface due to a variety of shared ontological and epistemological commitments, including the constitution of actors and their behavior. Collectively, the papers assembled unlock exciting opportunities to connect distinct but related scholarly communities on practice and institution, seeding scholarship that can advance our understanding of organizational and societal dynamics.


Keywords: Practice theory; organizational institutionalism; Theodore Schatzki; Roger Friedland; practice-driven institutionalism; institutional logics

Professional Structures and Practice Change: Institutionalization Processes in Accounting and Strategy

with Richard Whittington

This chapter examines the processes by which new management ideas become institutionalized as widely-used management practices in different kinds of profession. It argues that these processes vary according to a profession’s structural degree of social closure, as enforced for instance by tight regulations and strict qualification requirements. Closure also has implications for the relevance of different strands of institutional theory. In closed professions such as accounting, institutionalization processes resemble those predicted by institutional entrepreneurship theory: the emphasis is on the roles of regulators and professional bodies; collaboration amongst change agents; episodic innovation; front-loaded change activity; and isomorphic outcomes. In open professions such as strategy, management fashion theory suggests the importance of prestigious clients and competition, while institutional work theory predicts continuous innovation; intense investment in maintenance activities; and pluralistic outcomes. The chapter argues for the value of comparative studies of professions for future research on the institutionalization of management ideas.


Keywords: institutionalization, professions, structures, practice change, management ideas