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Stability and change: Managing the tensions (section)

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Product Description

Guest editors:

Stephane Tywoniak and Jennifer Bartlett
Queensland University of Technology

This special issue of Journal of Management & Organization (volume 17/5 - September 2011) aims to widen understanding of the processes of stability and change in today's organizations, with a particular emphasis on the contribution of institutional approaches to organizational studies.


Institutional perspectives on organization theory assume that rational economic calculations such as the maximization of profits or the optimization of resource allocation are not sufficient to understand the behavior of organizations and their strategic choices. Institutionalists acknowledge the great uncertainty associated with the conduct of organizations, and suggest that taken-for-granted values, beliefs, and meanings within and outside organizations also play an important role in the determination of legitimate action.

An overview of core research questions in institutional theory reveals a tension between stability and change in organizations. Over the past three decades, the analysis of organizations through the institutional lens has oscillated between these two polar attractors. On the one hand researchers acknowledge the role of taken-for-granted assumptions in promoting organizational inertia and stability, and the influence of external pressures for conformity to societal norms of legitimacy that lead organizations to converge on mimetic practices and structures. On the other hand, attention has more recently been drawn to the role of organizational innovators or institutional entrepreneurs in bringing about new industries, products, or organizational forms.

This tension between stability and change has highlighted the need for processual research, and has provided the opportunity to import processual concepts and theories such as structuration or sensemaking. Recent theoretical developments highlight the continual building and re-building of organizations through the work of purposeful and knowledgeable agents. However, important research questions pertaining to organizational stability and change remain under-studied, including: processes of institutionalization and de-institutionalization, the role of power and organizational machinations, the contribution of processes of learning and sensemaking, and the role of ethics, identity, meaning and culture.

Table of Contents

Conceptual paper: Questioning the epistemic virtue of strategy: The Emperor has no Clothes! – Steven French, Alexander Kouzmin and Stephen Kelly

Making sense of innovation: A future perfect approach – Lars Fuglsang and Jan Mattsson

Examining the impact of protean and boundaryless career attitudes upon subjective career success – Mihaela Enache, Jose M Sallan, Pep Simo and Vicenc Fernandez

Pioneer orientation and new product performance of the fi rm: Internal contingency factors – Maria J Ruiz Ortega and Pedro M García-Villaverde

Employee learning processes in New Zealand small manufacturing firms – Alan Coetzer, Raja Peter and Vasanthi Peter

Literature review: Causes and consequences of downsizing: Towards an integrative framework – Franco Gandolfi and Magnus Hansson

Stability & Change

Prologue: Stability and change – Jennifer Bartlett and Stephane Tywoniak

Duality theory and the management of the change–stability paradox – Fiona Sutherland and Aaron CT Smith

Dialogue and distributed agency in institutional transmission – Andrea Whittle, Olga Suhomlinova and Frank Mueller

Book Review
Reform as routine: Organizational change and stability in the modern world – Nils Brunsson

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