Anda di halaman 1dari 22

Journal of http://jmi.sagepub.

com/
Management Inquiry

The Logic of Institutional Logics: Insights From French Pragmatist Sociology


Charlotte Cloutier and Ann Langley
Journal of Management Inquiry 2013 22: 360 originally published online 24 January 2013
DOI: 10.1177/1056492612469057

The online version of this article can be found at:


http://jmi.sagepub.com/content/22/4/360

Published by:

http://www.sagepublications.com

On behalf of:
Western Academy of Management

Additional services and information for Journal of Management Inquiry can be found at:

Email Alerts: http://jmi.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts

Subscriptions: http://jmi.sagepub.com/subscriptions

Reprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav

Permissions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav

Citations: http://jmi.sagepub.com/content/22/4/360.refs.html

>> Version of Record - Sep 2, 2013


OnlineFirst Version of Record - Jan 24, 2013

What is This?

Downloaded from jmi.sagepub.com at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on September 13, 2013


469057
of Management Inquiry XX(X)Cloutier and Langley
JMI22410.1177/1056492612469057Journal

Essay
Journal of Management Inquiry

The Logic of Institutional Logics: 22(4) 360380


The Author(s) 2013
Reprints and permissions:
Insights From French Pragmatist Sociology sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav
DOI: 10.1177/1056492612469057
jmi.sagepub.com

Charlotte Cloutier1 and Ann Langley1

Abstract
Research on institutional logics has exploded in the last decade. Much of this work has taken its inspiration from Friedland
and Alfords call to bring society back in to organizational analysis. Interestingly, when Friedland and Alford published their
seminal piece, another body of work with similar focus emerged in France under the banner of French Pragmatist Sociology.
In this article, we discuss how French Pragmatist Sociology complements institutional logics by helping it address its main
limitations or blind spots. These include (a) microfoundations and recursiveness (how institutions are formed, maintained,
or changed at a micro level), (b) legitimacy struggles (how struggles are resolved on a day-to-day basis), (c) morality (as an
important element underscoring institutional logics), and (d) materiality (as physical and tangible instantiations of logics). We
conclude by suggesting that a rapprochement between both approaches provides an elegant means of bridging the lingering
divide between old and new institutionalism.

Keywords
institutional logics, orders of worth, French pragmatist theory, institutional theory

Introduction
because of it), it remains important to consider what is miss-
The institutional logics perspective has proven to be a useful ing from current conceptualizations and explore how bridg-
and practical lens through which to account for the plurality ing institutional logics with other related areas of scholarship
of norms and beliefs in institutional theory and for explain- might help address gaps or blind spots in extant theory
ing the processes underscoring institutional formation and (Thornton et al., 2012, p. 129). Our goal in this article is thus
change. Institutional theory has indeed gained considerably to outline the blind spots or less developed areas within cur-
in sophistication over the last three decades, evolving from a rent conceptualizations of institutional logics and undertake
predominant focus on isomorphism and the routine, taken- one such bridging explorationnamely to examine how a
for-granted aspects of human behavior (DiMaggio & Powell, branch of French Pragmatist Sociology, as summarized in
1983, 1991; Meyer & Rowan, 1977; Thornton & Ocasio, the work of Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thvenot (1991,
2008) to now formally recognizing the inherent fluidity of 2006), might help enhance our overall understanding of
institutions and their recursive aspects (Thornton, Ocasio, & institutional logics and their role in shaping institutionaliza-
Lounsbury, 2012). Consequently, early visions of institutions tion processes.
as monoliths acting as invisible and powerful constraints on Specifically, we identify four blind spots that we think are
human behavior have progressively been replaced by a much not addressed as well as they might be within the institutional
more recursive view, premised on the fact that although insti- logics perspective. First, our understanding of how institu-
tutions certainly constrain action, they are nevertheless the tional processes play out at a micro level, on a day-to-day
product of human actions. As such, their reproduction is basis, remains limited (Barley, 2008; Hallett & Ventresca,
negotiated by social actors on an ongoing basis in a process 2006; Powell & Colyvas, 2008). Second, recent empirical
that, given the stakes involved, is inevitably rife with con- studies do not focus as well as they might on the specific
flict, contradiction and ambiguity (DiMaggio & Powell, dynamics related to struggles over legitimacy that are
1991, p. 28). In light of this shift, institutional logics have a natural side-effect of pluralism and are thus central to
provided a plausible explanation for what might be at the
1
source of institutional conflict and by association numerous HEC Montreal, Quebec, Canada
insights as to how institutional arrangements are formed and
Corresponding Author:
how they come to change over time. Charlotte Cloutier, HEC Montreal, 3000, chemin de la Cte-Ste-Catherine,
Despite the many insights that work under the banner of Montral, Quebec, Canada H3T 2A7.
institutional logics have helped unveil (and perhaps even Email: charlotte.cloutier@hec.ca

Downloaded from jmi.sagepub.com at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on September 13, 2013


Cloutier and Langley 361

understanding institutional dynamics. Third, neo-institutional order meanings, values, norms, and/or rules that frame how
thoughts, and by association current conceptualizations of individuals make sense of the world around them and conse-
institutional logics, have lost their original moral element quently know how to act. They reflect organizing principles
(DiMaggio & Powell, 1991), which shrouds one of the pri- that help frame collective action. More recently, Thornton
mary motivators for why organizational actors endorse a par- et al. (2012) further developed this conceptualization, build-
ticular logic over another, and thus, withholds an important ing on Friedland and Alfords (1991) initial typology of log-
explanatory mechanism for deepening our understanding of ics to propose a set of seven ideal type institutional orders
institutional processes. Finally, the way in which logics man- constructed according to a set of nine descriptive categories
ifest themselves in material objects has been largely over- that enable classification. The authors argue that these insti-
looked. It is our contention that these limitations may have tutional orders can be combined and instantiated into more
arisen primarily because of the specific epistemological and specific field-level logics depending on a fields resource
ontological assumptions underscoring institutional logics, flows, opportunities, and constraints (Thornton et al., 2012).
limitations that we argue might be addressed, thanks to the In earlier years, institutional logics studies focused primar-
contributions of French Pragmatist Sociology. ily on documenting field-level institutional change, usually
Our article is structured as follows. We begin by elaborat- over fairly long periods of time. The intent was to study how
ing on the notion of institutional logics, tracing the fields shifts in dominant institutional logics influenced organiza-
theoretical evolution over recent years and highlighting the tional structures and practices. Notable examples of studies in
theorys blind spots as discussed above. We then introduce this vein include those by Thornton and colleagues on how
Boltanski and Thvenots economies of worth framework shifts in institutional logics impacted the academic publishing
(henceforward called the EW framework), outline its points industry. The shift from an editorial to a market logic was seen
of convergence and divergence with institutional logics, and to manifest itself in changes in organizational structure (from
discuss, using examples, how the EW framework, and nota- unitary [U] to multidivisional [M] form; Thornton, 2002), in
bly its conceptualization of logics as a toolkit of resources organizational power relationships and determinants of execu-
that actors can call upon at will to rhetorically promote par- tive succession (Thornton & Ocasio, 1999), and in organiza-
ticular definitions of legitimacy, can be used to enrich our tional strategy more generally. Other examples include
overall understanding of institutional logics, and institutional DiMaggios (1991) study of how prevailing institutional log-
theory more broadly. We then explore how a rapprochement ics shaped the institutional field of art museums, Haveman
between approaches might help extend even further our and Raos (1997) study of how organizational structures
understanding of institutional processes and discuss remain- shifted along with prevailing logics in the early thrift industry,
ing areas of ambiguity. Finally, we conclude by arguing that a Scott, Ruef, Mendel, and Caronnas (2000) study of institu-
closer friendship between institutional logics and French tional change in the U.S. health care industry, Greenwood and
Pragmatist Sociology provides an elegant means of bridging Suddabys (2006) study of change in professional service log-
the lingering divide between old and new institutional- ics and organizational design, Goodricks (2000) study of the
ism, or in other words, helps reconcile ongoing tensions rise of science-based concepts in the academic management
between agency and structure in institutional debates. field, and Lounsburys (2002) study of how shifts in institu-
tional logics opened up possibilities for various actors to make
new status claims in the field of finance.
Institutional LogicsAn Overview Further evidence of the link between logics and practice
The concept of institutional logics was first introduced by can be found in Lounsburys (2007) study of how different
Roger Friedland and Robert Alford in their seminal piece institutional logics (each of which prevailed in different cities)
Bringing Society Back In published in the New led to variation in the way mutual fund companies established
Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis (Friedland & contracts with independent professional money management
Alford, 1991). In this article, Friedland and Alford defined firms. Interestingly, in this study, geography rather than time
central logics as the set of material practices and symbolic was the principle factor explaining the differences in prevail-
constructions that constitute each institutional orders orga- ing logics and practices. Glynn and Lounsburys (2005) study
nizing principles and that is available to organizations and on shifting logics in an orchestra showed that shifts in logics
individuals to elaborate (Friedland & Alford, 1991, p. 232). can occur swiftly, as a result of exogenous shock, with reper-
Thornton and Ocasio (2008) further elaborated on this defi- cussions for organizational practices and evaluative criteria (in
nition by emphasizing that logics are socially constructed, this case, external stakeholdersnotably criticsshifting
historical patterns of material practices, assumptions, values, criteria for judging quality and appropriateness of orchestral
beliefs and rules by which individuals produce and repro- performances). Both these studies helped further solidify the
duce their material subsistence, organize time and space, and general argument that institutional logics manifest them-
provide meaning to their social reality (p. 101). In essence, selves materially in organizational structures and practices,
logics can be viewed as bundled sets or ensembles of higher or in other words, that institutions matter.

Downloaded from jmi.sagepub.com at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on September 13, 2013


362 Journal of Management Inquiry 22(4)

Once this was established, scholars started to become (2011) elaborated the idea of institutional pluralism further
interested in studying fields where a single logic had yet to by suggesting that pluralism is at the source of institutional
dominate and consequently more than one logic could simul- complexity in organizational environments and by arguing
taneously be affecting field-level cognitive beliefs, norms, that some fields are more complex than others on the basis of
and practices. Coexisting logics inevitably arise during the how fragmented and/or centralized they are. Recent exam-
transitional phase between shifting logics in a mature field or ples of studies that have begun to explicitly consider institu-
in the early stages of an emerging field (where a dominant tional multiplicity or pluralism in their framing include
logic has yet to become institutionalized). It is usually during Greenwood et al.s (2010) study on the interplay between
such moments that institutional conflict and contestation are market, state, and family logics in Spain and Zilbers (2011)
made particularly salient as varying groups of actors try to study on the routine, ongoing practices that sustain institu-
impose their preferred, and not always compatible, logic on tional multiplicity in the Israeli high-tech industry.
the field. From this perspective, it then became interesting to Institutional theory in general and our understanding of
study not only the processes whereby a particular logic institutional logics in particular have thus considerably
comes to dominate in a field but also the processes that allow evolved since Friedland and Alfords (1991) seminal work
for multiple logics to coexist over extended periods of time first introduced the concept some 20 years ago. Despite the
(and thus to explain why in some fields, dominance of a sin- substantial milestones achieved however, our understanding
gle logic remains persistently elusive). A number of interest- of interplay between logics and how such interplay influ-
ing studies have been conducted in this vein. Marquis and ences institutional processes and outcomes continues to
Lounsbury (2007) and Lok (2010), for example, demon- present a number of shortcomings which we turn to now.
strated empirically how competing logics facilitated resis-
tance to a dominant logic, thus counterbalancing isomorphic
pressures and enabling the coexistence of multiple logics in Institutional LogicsShortcomings
the fields they studied. These studies also helped explain and Future Outlook
why there is institutional residue or why behaviors associ- Despite the insightfulness of the work accomplished to date,
ated with formerly dominant logics tend to persist, even a number of blind spots in current theorizations of institu-
when a fields dominant logic has shifted (Maguire & Hardy, tional logics remain. Here we discuss four such blind spots.
2006; Zilber, 2011). Purdy and Gray (2009), Reay and Most of these have already been identified by various schol-
Hinings (2009), and Battilana and Dorado (2010) for their ars in one form or another. They are grouped together here
part looked at mechanisms that enabled the maintenance of as a means of synthesis.
multiple (and often contradictory) logics within a field,
thereby formally refuting prior assumptions that only one
logic can dominate in a stabilized field. Micro-Level Processes and Recursiveness
Recognizing that multiple logics can coexist within a Although institutional scholars now acknowledge that orga-
field refocused scholars attention on the notion of multiple. nizations are exposed to competing demands from multiple
With few exceptions however (Heimer, 1999), studies that and often incompatible logics, we still know relatively little
looked at multiple logics tended to oppose only two logics about how they proactively deal with such conflict at the
against each other (Greenwood, Raynard, Kodeih, Micelotta, micro level (Greenwood et al., 2011; Pache & Santos, 2010).
& Lounsbury, 2011). Scholars began to question whether this Although interest in this area is increasing (Lawrence &
was an accurate reflection of the empirical reality in which Suddaby, 2006; Lawrence, Suddaby, & Leca, 2009; Reay &
most organizational actors found themselves (Stryker, 2000; Hinings, 2009), few studies have dug deep into the inner
Zilber, 2008). As a consequence of social movement pres- workings of institutional conflict and struggle to open the
sures (Lounsbury, Ventresca, & Hirsch, 2003), or simply on black box of institutional processes under conditions of
the basis of organizational actors being exposed to multiple multiplicity (Zilber, 2011). This may be the case in part
worldviews (Binder, 2007; Delmestri, 2006; Greenwood, because the institutional logics perspective has not so far
Suddaby, & Hinings, 2002), reducing field-level reality to provided the necessary conceptual tools to help effectively
one or two logics seemed reductive, even if convenient from untangle how conflicts are resolved at this level.
an analytical standpoint. These authors argued that pluralism Focusing on the inner workings of institutional struggle
is more likely to be the norm rather than the exception in any makes it necessary to highlight the recursiveness of institu-
given field. More recent discussions within the ongoing insti- tional relations, something that has been alluded to by differ-
tutional logics conversation have consequently called for an ent authors but that has not been thoroughly investigated
explicit and more systematic consideration of institutional empirically. As Hallett and Ventresca (2006) have argued,
pluralism (Kraatz & Block, 2008) or institutional multiplicity institutions are inhabited by people and their interactions
(Greenwood, Diaz, Li, & Lorente, 2010; Zilber, 2011) in (p. 213) and that although institutional logics carry meaning,
institutional studies. Recognizing this need, Greenwood et al. it is also true that meaning arises through social interaction

Downloaded from jmi.sagepub.com at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on September 13, 2013


Cloutier and Langley 363

(p. 215). Hallett and Ventrescas arguments make the link not), which precludes considering specific mechanisms
between institutions and agency clear and hint at how actors whereby legitimacy might be assessed in degrees. This is an
can shape and change institutional logics by manipulating important limitation, given that legitimacy, and in particular,
the cognitive resources made available to them by means of how it is assessed and granted (or not), is central to neo-
multiple institutional logics, in the same way that actors will institutionalist thought.
draw on Swidlers (1986) toolkit of cultural resources in
their enactment of culture. Although institutional logics can
be viewed as providing the raw materials and guidelines Moral Dimension of Logics
(Hallett & Ventresca, 2006, p. 215), the cultural building Current conceptualizations of institutional logics have for
blocks (Zilber, 2008, p. 156), or the symbolic grammar the most part discarded the moral undercurrents that were
(Thornton et al., 2012) that organizational actors use in their part and parcel of their origins (DiMaggio & Powell, 1991).
social interactions to produce and reproduce the very institu- Indeed, it is difficult to consider the concept of legitimacy
tions they are embedded in, conceptually they fall short of without considering that what social actors generally think is
providing an actual repertoire of tools and specific resources appropriate is not so for taken-for-granted reasons only. It
that actors can draw on, both discursively and materially, in is considered so because it is the right thing to think or do
their deliberate struggles to ensure that a particular logic pre- for these actors in a truly moral sense (Vaisey, 2009). Even
vails in a given context or situation. We thus need to have a the notion of logic of appropriateness (Lawrence &
clearer idea of the content of these institutional and cognitive Suddaby, 2006; March, 1994; Thornton & Ocasio, 2008),
toolkits to better understand how people use them in their which is frequently cited to describe institutional logics, has
attempts to instigate or resist external and internal institu- moral underpinnings that tend to be bypassed or ignored in
tional pressures to change. existing theorizations. Indeed, much of the literature in insti-
tutional theory tends to equate legitimacy with conformity to
normative, regulative, and sociocognitive elements of a given
Legitimacy Struggles institutional field (Scott, 2008). Things are judged to be
Suddaby and Greenwood (2005) have argued that institu- legitimate or not on the basis of their conformity to these ele-
tional change results from shifts in the logics whereby legiti- ments, and not on the basis of their being right or wrong
macy is assessed or, in other words, the standards whereby in a moral sense. Yet, if social actors begin to question the
alternatives (in terms of practices, identities, cognitive institutional status quo, it will usually be because they con-
beliefs, etc.) are deemed to be appropriate (p. 35) or not by sider that some aspect of the status quo is wrong or
field-level actors. Stryker (2000) has made a similar argu- unfair. Downplaying the moral dimensions of logics
ment, pointing out that legitimacy processes not only shrouds from view one of the most powerful motivators for
explain institutionalization and stability, but also help explain why organizational actors endorse a particular logic over
deinstitutionalization and change in organizations and in another, or why they would so vehemently defend a different
organizational fields (p. 180). Taking the position that the logic from the prevailing one. Such moral myopia effec-
criteria whereby legitimacy is assessed are encoded within tively withholds an important explanatory mechanism for
institutional logics (Suddaby & Greenwood, 2005), one can deepening our understanding of institutional dynamics.
argue that struggles over conflicting logics are in fact legiti-
macy struggles, where organizational actors symbolically
battle out what each thinks is (or should be) legitimate (p. Materiality
36) in a given field. Thus, institutional logics can be said to Many definitions of institutional logics have explicitly sug-
shape the boundaries of what is considered to be desirable, gested that they encompass both symbolic systems of
proper and appropriate (Suchman, 1995, p. 574) in any meaning and related material practices (Friedland &
given field or context. However, despite these observations Alford, 1991; Thornton & Ocasio, 2008). Indeed, institu-
and some notable exceptions at trying to make sense of them tional logics have frequently been examined for their
(Jones & Livne-Tarandach, 2008; Suddaby & Greenwood, contributions to emerging structural forms and practices.
2005), relatively little effort has gone into exploring more Others have noted how shifts in institutional logics may
fully and deeply the processual aspects of legitimacy (i.e., be related to the emergence of new categories with material
the rhetorical, discursive, and technical struggles over what qualities. For example, Rao, Monin, and Durand (2003)
is legitimate or not; Deephouse & Suchman, 2008), particu- explored the emergence of the nouvelle cuisine move-
larly as they play out in institutionally complex fields. ment that is inherently related to new ways of cooking. Yet,
Again, this may be because of the limitations imposed by the various typologies of institutional logics proposed by
some of the assumptions underscoring institutional logics Thornton and Ocasio (2008) and Thornton et al. (2012) do
and, in particular, the tendency within this view to conceptu- not include specific references to tangible objects but tend
alize legitimacy in binary terms (something is legitimate or to focus, as does much of the research in this area, more

Downloaded from jmi.sagepub.com at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on September 13, 2013


364 Journal of Management Inquiry 22(4)

strongly on the symbolic aspects of logics. When they refer Bourdieus critical sociology. Boltanski and Thvenots main
to material aspects, they do so only in terms of structures contention was that critical sociology gave too much weight
and practices (Thornton et al., 2012) and not more specifi- to the dispositional properties of actors, consequently under-
cally in terms of objects and technologies through which estimating their critical competencies or in other words,
logics might become instantiated. The importance of objects their capacity to regard the situations they found themselves
and technologies is underscored by Czarniawska (2008) in critically, and to act accordingly (Jagd, 2011). This dichot-
who suggested that one of the blind spots of institutional omy partially explains why Bourdieus critical sociology is
theory turns around the degree to which various institu- often regarded as a sociology of culture, whereas Boltanski
tional responsibilities have been partially transferred to and Thvenots pragmatist sociology is regarded as a sociol-
machine technologies and therefore partially removed from ogy of action (Bnatoul, 1999; Silber, 2003). In this regard,
everyday awareness (p. 774). Whiteman and Cooper they are surprisingly close in their methods and theorizations
(2000) argued even further that concern for materiality to Garfinkels ethnomethodology and Strausss symbolic
needs to extend beyond separable objects to the interrelated interactionism, both of which have been called upon as pos-
ecological embeddedness of human activity in the natural sible theoretical frames and methodological approaches for
world, which affords a considerably richer view of materi- enriching institutional theory (Barley, 2008). Indeed, both
ality and its influence on institutional processes than current interactionists and pragmatist sociologists treat institutions
conceptualizations from an institutional logics perspective. as constraints while emphasizing the role that human agency
In general, greater awareness of the imbrications of materi- and vested interests play in creating, maintaining and chang-
ality within institutional forms (the sociomaterial entan- ing institutions (Barley, 2008, p. 495). For both, institutions
glement of Orlikowski, 2007, and Latour, 2005) could were both a product of and resources for interaction and
contribute to a richer understanding of the constitution, negotiation in everyday life (Barley, 2008, p. 498). Likewise
constraints, and affordances of institutional logics. for both, struggles for legitimacy are at the heart of institu-
In sum, there is still considerable room to further advance tional processes (Barley, 2008). Where French pragmatist
the institutional logics research agenda. Different scholars sociologists distinguish themselves from the interactionists is
have raised several of the issues discussed above, and although in their making the actual structure of institutions (or logics)
various studies have been developed to address them, there is explicit. This makes it arguably easier to empirically tease
still much that can be accomplished. In particular, a synthesis out in social contexts the relative influence of structure over
of the above issues remains elusive. What might we stand to agency (and vice versa) and thus arrive at a more fine-grained
gain by considering all of these aspects collectively? Focusing understanding of the microdynamics underscoring institu-
on micro-level processes using a toolkit approach to help tional formation and change.
explain how organizational actors produce justificatory As with institutional logics, in seeking to provide better
accounts and negotiate what locally is considered to be legiti- explanation for social action, French Pragmatist Sociology
mate or not (Barley, 2008) offers an interesting and underex- starts with an assumption of pluralism. The basis for this
plored way forward for institutional research. Pursuing such assumption was the authors and others (Silber, 2003) observa-
an objective requires a useful analytical framework that speci- tion that social actors justificatory and legitimating accounts
fies the mechanisms and the resources that actors can use to for their beliefs and actions tended to almost always be made in
make the case for legitimacy in a given situation or context. reference to a limited number of broad-based sets of values and
Such a framework, which needs to take the form of a toolkit, conceptions of the common good. This the authors confirmed
already exists (Silber, 2003) but stems from a body of litera- over the course of several studies undertaken in the early 1980s
ture that has yet to gain traction among English-speaking man- in which they systematically analyzed the reasons social actors
agement scholars. In the next section, we explore how French gave for harboring a given opinion or taking a particular course
Pragmatist Sociology, represented here by Luc Boltanski and of action, notably in cases when such opinions or actions were
Laurent Thvenots (1991, 2006) typology of various econo- being challenged by others.
mies of worth, might help enhance our overall understanding Based on these premises, Boltanski and Thvenot (2006)
of institutional logics and their role in shaping institutionaliza- then set themselves the task of identifying and describing, in
tion processes.1 a pragmatic way, the structure and content of each set of
beliefs about the common good they observed. They did so
by taking inspiration from canonical philosophical texts
French Pragmatist thought to constitute the foundation of various forms of the
SociologyAn Overview common good and anchoring them in practical rules of good
Considered by some to be the most important sociological practice as reflected in modern day manuals designed to pro-
treatise in post-Bourdieu French sociology (Baert & Carreira vide people with practical advice on normal modes of
da Silva, 2010), Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thvenots behaviour (Boltanski & Thvenot, 2006, p. 150) in specific
(1991, 2006) On Justification arose out of a direct critique of situations.

Downloaded from jmi.sagepub.com at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on September 13, 2013


Cloutier and Langley 365

Table 1. Summary Description of Each EW World (after Boltanski & Thvenot, 1991).
The inspired world
The realm of creativity and art. In this world, what is most valued is that which is passionate, emergent, spontaneous, and inspired.
The creative journey, with its ups and downs, its moments of elation, and its subsequent feelings of doubt and suffering, is what life is
all about: an adventure, an endless horizon of mystery, and a discovery. The journey is the end, not the means. Moments of genius
are unpredictable and unexpected: They appear in flashes and sparks. Actors in this world are repulsed by habit and shun routines. They
dream, imagine, take risks, and live.
The domestic world
The realm of the family in its symbolic sense. In this world, what is valued is that which is firm, loyal, selfless, and trustworthy.
Hierarchy and tradition play central roles. Superiors are informed and wise, and must care and nurture those who are lower in the
hierarchy. Great importance is attached to ones upbringing, as upbringing and good manners reflect where one comes from. The
priority of actors in this world is on preserving, protecting, and nurturing the unit (family, guild, group, etc.) to which one belongs, as
without this unit, one is nothing.
The world of fame
The realm of fame and popularity. In this world, what is valued is that which is visible, famous, influential, fashionable, and recognized.
The worth of actors is determined by the opinion of others. To be banal, unknown, or forgotten is shameful. An undiscovered genius
is a contradiction, as a genius cannot be genial if not known. Any and all means for achieving fame and recognition are sought after and
legitimate.
The civic world
The realm of duty and solidarity. In this world, what is valued is that which is united, representative, legal, official, and free. Individuals
in this world accede to worth by freely joining and being part of a collective, their individual will subordinated to the general will, that
which seeks the common good, the good of all. Leaders are elected and valued because they represent the aspirations of the masses.
To place individual interests ahead of collective interests is panacea in this world. One for all, and all for one.
The market world
The realm of money and the market. In this world, what is valued is rare, expensive, valuable, and profitable. The law of the market
prevails, and actors deemed worthy are those who know how to take advantage of it and reap its rewards (e.g., wealth). Wealth is an
end, and individuals with dignity in this world are detached from the chains of belonging and liberated from the weight of hierarchies.
This gives them the ability to judge market opportunities objectively, unemotionally, and thus win.
The industrial world
The realm of measures and efficiency. In this world, what is valued is precise, functional, professional, productive, efficient, and
useful. A world where technological objects and scientific methods take center stage. Optimization and progress are noble
pursuits. All forms of waste are frowned upon. Actors in this world are professional, hardworking, focused, and thorough.
Perfection is to be found in the optimally functioning system (whether mechanical, technological, or human).
Note: EW = economies of worth.

In this manner, Boltanski and Thvenot developed six used by actors to help resolve disputes over what each
sets of equivalent definitions of what is the most proper or believes are the proper criteria whereby a particular situa-
legitimate action or standard of action (Silber, 2003, p. 429) tion should be judged for worthiness, and thus appropriate-
to pursue in a given situation or context. Because each set ness and legitimacy.
provided the means whereby individuals and situations could
be judged to be worthy (or not), the authors named them
orders of worth, later calling them worlds.2 A narrative The EW Frameworks Worlds
description of Boltanski and Thvenots six worlds (labeled the The EW frameworks worlds are thus in many ways similar
inspired world, the domestic world, the world of fame, the civic to the logics in institutional logics. Both refer to higher
world, the market world, and the industrial world) appears in common principles that reflect the degree of legitimacy of
Table 1. The authors work also led to the development of a certain rules and values in society and define appropriate
detailed grammar of key components (see Table 2 for a forms of conduct (Patriotta, Gond, & Schultz, 2011, p. 2)
detailed explanation and examples), around which each that serve as core organizing principles underscoring collec-
world is constructed.3 In this grammar, one finds the differ- tive action. Where the EW framework differs from institu-
ent roles that worthy participants in a given world play, lists tional logics is in its assumption that social actors do not
of characteristics of individuals and things that are deemed tend to interpret and make sense of the world in a predeter-
particularly worthy as compared with others, symbolic mined way, as dictated by a particular, dominant institu-
objects, and even evaluative methods for assessing worthi- tional logic. Rather, the EW framework assumes that actors
ness of people and things in various contexts. Below we can draw on elements from any world and use them strate-
explain how the different elements of the framework can be gically to suit their rhetorical needs in situations where

Downloaded from jmi.sagepub.com at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on September 13, 2013


366 Journal of Management Inquiry 22(4)

Table 2. Elements of a Grammar for Boltanski and Thvenots Orders of Worth.

Description (using orders of Description (using institutional Example: Inspired Example: Industrial
Feature worth terminology) logics terminology) world world
Higher common Core organizing principle that Fundamental goal that Inspiration Efficiency performance
principle characterizes a given world, for underpins the organizing
example, what matters most principles of a particular logic
in any given situation
Characteristics
State of worthiness Characteristics that help define Features of objects and What is worthy is What is worthy is
what is most worthy and persons that establish their bizarre, spontaneous, functional, reliable, or
therefore valued in a given legitimacy exciting, disturbing, operational
world or emotional
State of deficiency Characteristics that help Features of objects and What is unworthy is What is unworthy is
define what is least worthy and persons that confirm their lack reality, habits, and amateurism
therefore shunned in a given of legitimacy routines
world
Relation of worth Concept that differentiates The principal criterion Uniqueness Controllability
what is worthy from what is whereby objects and persons
less worthy in a given world are deemed to be more or less
legitimate
Actions and behaviors
Human dignity A physical faculty (e.g., an Appropriate behaviors that Love, passion, Shared work ethic
emotion, a memory, a habit, a actors are expected to engage creativity
desire) that forms the basis of in to be considered legitimate
agreement between persons
Investment formula The price to pay to rise A tangible manifestation of Breaking away from Making progress
to the status of worthy (In commitment to the beliefs routines
principle, the state of being underscoring a particular logic.
worthy is accessible to all, but Implies sacrifice that confers/
not all will make the necessary solidifies legitimacy
investments for becoming so.)
Material manifestations
List of participants People (in terms of their roles Examples of particularly Visionaries, artists Professionals, experts,
and objects or identities) and objects that legitimate actors and/or Dreams, visions, the specialists
are representative of a given objects unconscious Tools, methods, lists,
world graphs, goals
Harmonious figures A symbol that captures the A symbol that captures the The imaginary A system
of the natural essence of a given world essence of what is legitimate
order
Model test A test is an objective means for The material means or method The completion of a The conduct of an
assessing worthiness. Serves as whereby legitimacy is assessed quest experimental trial
a tool for resolving disputes or
conflict within a given world
Source: Adapted from Amblard, Bernoux, Herreros, and Livian (1996), and Boltanski and Thvenot (2006).

there is disagreement over what is the right or appropriate performance. Work and energy are valued, and profession-
course of action to follow. What is right in a given context is als, experts, and specialists are honored. Worthiness is rec-
not circumscribed by a particular institutional field, as all ognized in effectiveness, functionality, and dependability,
worlds are available to all actors in any field. Each of the and unworthiness is associated with amateurism and lack of
EW frameworks worlds is carefully constructed to reflect productivity. Key objects used to support justifications are
the full range of arguments, principles, and methods of tools, resources, methods, and plans. The set of elements
evaluation, competencies, practices, and so on that actors associated with each of the six worlds is fully described in
might deploy when seeking to justify and legitimate a par- the appendix.
ticular course of action. For example, the higher common Taken together, Boltanski and Thvenots suite of worlds
principle of the industrial world focuses on efficiency and effectively represents a repertoire or a toolkit of cognitive,

Downloaded from jmi.sagepub.com at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on September 13, 2013


Cloutier and Langley 367

symbolic, and material elements that actors can actively draw depend on any number of factors, including circumstance,
upon to justify their actions and beliefs or to convince others as habit, routine, culture, norms, and so on. In many situations
to what beliefs or actions are appropriate in a given situation. (if not most), what principles should apply are taken for
Each world provides the means whereby a competent social granted. This corresponds to taken-for-granted beliefs, norms,
actor can assess and even to some degree prove what things, and practices that prevail and underscore collective action in
actions, or beliefs are deemed worthy or not in any given situ- a given field from an institutional logics perspective as well.
ation, worthiness in EW terms being equivalent to legitimacy However, where the EW framework differs from institutional
in institutional logic terms. Unlike Thornton et al.s (Thornton, logics is in its core assumption that even well-established norms
Jones, & Kury, 2005; Thornton et al., 2012) more descriptive and beliefs can be contested at any time and routinely are. This
typologies, Boltanski and Thvenots typology of worlds is echoes Zuckers (1988) early suggestion that institutions are
constructed in such a way as to make it possible to unpack the naturally unstable, on account of the natural decay of institu-
mechanisms whereby worthiness (or legitimacy) is granted in tionalized elements, by divergent self-interest, by divergence
one world and show the very specific cultural, symbolic, and of micro- and macrostructure and action, and by other pro-
material resources, stemming from different worlds, that cesses such as power (p. 45). Thus, unlike the tendency
actors might mobilize to overcome their disagreements and within institutional logics, contestation is not viewed as an
thus engage in collective action (or not). We now elaborate on exceptional case, something that occurs only occasionally.
these key elements of the framework before describing with Within the EW framework, contests over what higher order
empirical examples how it may assist in addressing some of beliefs should prevail in a given situation are a frequent and
the blind spots of the institutional logics perspective. normal occurrence in institutional life. In the case of pluralis-
tic organizations (Kraatz & Block, 2008), incidences of con-
test or pushback occur on a daily basis. When contestation
Worthiness (or Legitimacy) occurs, the choice as to which world should predominate is
Within One World subject to dispute, with different actors lobbying in favor of
Part of Boltanski and Thvenots conceptualization serves to one world over another, which they do primarily by first cri-
determine who (actors) and what (things) are deemed worthy tiquing the principles underlying other worlds and then by
in a given world. This is an important idea because only wor- drawing on cultural, symbolic, and material resources from
thy subjects and objects are deemed to be legitimate and can their chosen world to make the case for why that worlds per-
thus represent the views of a given world and legitimately spective should apply to the given situation. Thus, in situa-
engage in debates on its behalf when there are disputes as to tions where there is disagreement (a dispute) over which
what world should predominate in a given situation. principles should underscore collective action, actors will
Furthermore, unlike legitimacy in institutional theory rhetorically mobilize various critiques and resources in an
(Deephouse & Suchman, 2008), worthiness in the EW frame- effort to impose a particular world on the situation. Because
work is not viewed as a binary concept (one can be more or EW worlds are based on inherently different principles, and
less worthy, as opposed to only worthy or not worthy). How because no two worlds can apply to the same situation with-
worthiness is assessed depends on a number of factors that out some diminishment of one or both worlds core princi-
are fully outlined in Table 2. So, for example, to attain some ples, the outcome of such debates determines whether
degree of worthiness, social actors need to believe in certain collective action can occur, and if so, on what basis.
ideas and engage in certain practices (higher common prin- Boltanski and Thvenots (2006) concept of test is an
ciple and human dignity). One must reflect certain character- important mechanism whereby disputes within and between
istics and avoid others (states of worthiness and states of worlds are resolved:
deficiency). Higher levels of worthiness can be achieved if
one makes a significant, preferably irreversible, commitment A test of worth cannot be reduced to a theoretical
to those beliefs, in the form of an investment, which is differ- debate. It engages persons, in their bodily existence, in
ent from one world to the next. Those who make such an a world of things that serve as evidence, and in the
investment will be deemed to be particularly worthy (e.g., absence of which the dispute does not have the mate-
legitimate) in a given world and will be able to act as legiti- rial means of resolution by testing. (p. 131)
mate spokespersons on behalf of that world.
The purpose of a test is to remove uncertainty: A test clari-
fies hierarchies (who or what is more or less worthy) and legit-
Modes of Interaction imizes actors and objects within worlds. To be deemed
Within and Between Worlds admissible in a trial, for example, the evidence presented must
As already mentioned, the principles underlying each world meet precise and objective criteria. Assessing whether a piece
within the EW framework can apply to any situation. Which of evidence meets these criteria consists of a test of sorts, one
principles will predominate in any given situation will that in principle is deemed to be objective. It is in this same

Downloaded from jmi.sagepub.com at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on September 13, 2013


368 Journal of Management Inquiry 22(4)

Table 3. How Differences Between Logics or Worlds Are Reconciled.

Modalities of Pache and Santos


agreement Boltanski and Thvenot (2006) Kraatz and Block (2008) (2010) Institutional logics (in general)
Type 1 Resolution in one world Eliminate pluralism (e.g., Acquiescence Dominance
The views of one world apply; imposition by leaders) Manipulation Taken for grantedness
dissenting views are rhetorically
silenced
Type 2 Local arrangements Compartmentalize Avoidance Coexistence (Reay & Hinings,
Loose cohabitation Loose coupling 2009)
Agreeing to disagree Balancing tensions
Temporary arrangements
Type 3 Compromise Forge durable identities Compromise Hybridization (which can be
Developing new terms on which a of their own, emerge as temporary or long lasting;
lasting agreement might be forged institutions in their own Battilana & Dorado, 2010)
May become institutionalized over right
time
Type 4 Collective action not possible Not addressed Defiance Not addressed

sense that tests are used in the EW framework: as an operation following paragraphs, we illustrate some of these similari-
drawing on appropriate kinds of evidence whereby worth can ties, which help underscore the affinity of the EW and insti-
be assessed within worlds. As illustrated in the appendix, the tutional logics literatures, with examples stemming from
form of such tests varies according to the specific world. In both approaches.
situations of dispute, contests often arise to determine which For example, early studies that mobilized the EW frame-
test of worth should legitimately apply to the situation. By work focused on the clashing worlds underpinning agricultural
empirically seeking evidence of contests over tests, it becomes transformation in France. These studies used the framework to
possible to highlight the processes and circumstances whereby study the resolution of conflict between traditional producers
the principles of certain worlds come to take precedence over of agricultural products (artisans) and large industrial con-
others (and eventually lose their status, only to regain it) over cerns. In particular, Boisard and Letablier (1987, 1989) used
time, and by so doing to better understand the microprocesses an early version of the EW framework to examine how small,
whereby institutions are formed, maintained, and disrupted. local producers of camembert cheeses, who favored tradi-
In sum then, it can be argued that Boltanski and Thvenots tional methods of production, dealt with globalization pres-
elaboration of disputes, critiques, and tests effectively pro- sures that required them to mass produce or die. The
vides a repertoire of rhetorical tools that social actors can use outcome of their confrontation with agribusiness was the
to actively engage in the legitimacy struggles that drive, as application of the world-renowned Appellation dOrigine
discussed above, institutionalization processes, particularly Controle (AOC) label to cheeses produced using traditional
in fields characterized by institutional complexity. methods. This study provided a compelling example of an
institutionalized, hybrid arrangement between competing
worlds that Boltanski and Thvenot called a compromise.
Modalities of Agreement A comparative and similar example stemming from the
Between Worlds institutional logics literature can be found in Battilana and
As with institutional logics, clashes between worlds can be Dorados (2010) recent study of how the provision of micro-
resolved in various ways. Boltanski and Thvenot have loans to the poor shifted from nongovernmental organiza-
developed their own typology of ways that disputes between tions (NGOs) to commercial microfinance institutions.
worlds might be resolved, which align with the empirical Battilana and Dorados study showed how one of the two
observations of institutional logics scholars and with theo- commercial microfinance institutions they studied managed
ries advanced by authors who have looked at the different to enduringly reconcile the differences between what they
ways of dealing with institutional conflict (Pache & Santos, called developmental and banking logics by creating a
2010) or pluralism (Kraatz & Block, 2008) in organizations. common organizational identity that struck a balance
A comparison between approaches can be found in Table 3. between both logics. Battilana and Dorados hybridization of
Although institutional logics scholars have not yet produced banking and development logics in the microfinance indus-
their own typology of how conflicting logics are reconciled, try is thus practically identical to Boisard and Letabliers
various empirical studies point in directions similar to those hybridization of the domestic and industrial worlds in the
already outlined by Boltanski and Thvenot in 1991. In the camembert cheese industry.

Downloaded from jmi.sagepub.com at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on September 13, 2013


Cloutier and Langley 369

In another example, Moursli and Cobbaut (2006) used the institutionalization and deinstitutionalization processes than
EW framework to explain the coexistence of nonprofit, for- is possible from an institutional logics perspective.
profit, and public organizations in the area of long-term and Indeed, Boltanski and Thvenots theorizing on possible
respite care in Belgium. The authors showed that the coexis- outcomes of conflict between worlds brings a dynamic per-
tence of these organizational forms was based on actors in spective to the study of institutional multiplicity and opens up
each type of establishment defining quality differently on many new and interesting avenues for empirical investiga-
the basis of criteria stemming from different worlds: nonprofit tion. Because they conceptualize higher order belief systems
establishments valorizing establishments that felt like home (e.g., worlds) as cultural toolkits that are available to social
(thus, referring to the domestic world within the EW frame- actors at all times, their theory provides an alternate frame-
work), for-profit establishments defining quality on the basis of work for capitalizing on the recent growing interest within
profitability (the market world), and finally, public establish- institutional theory for a better and more comprehensive
ments reflecting a compromise between the domestic, market, understanding of how institutional logics coevolve (Dunn &
and industrial worlds. Although all three organizational forms Jones, 2010; Purdy & Gray, 2009; Reay & Hinings, 2009)
adhered to principles from all worlds, what was interesting was and how actors accommodate conflicting logics in their day-
how each prioritized them differently, thus giving rise to differ- to-day work. Although Boltanski and Thvenot have theo-
ent types of establishments in a field where one might have rized about how struggles over what is right or appropriate
expected only a single organizational form to survive. to do in a given context might unfold, we still do not know,
As regards the coexistence of conflicting logics in the institu- for example, exactly how agreements or compromises come
tional logics literature, we find Purdy and Grays (2009) study on about and what makes them durable or not. The framework
the emergence of different organizational forms in the emerging provides a particularly suitable lens through which to study
field of alternative dispute resolution that looked at how multi- the critiquing, debating, and negotiating dynamics that frame
ple logics can diffuse within a field, leading to the creation of decision making in organizational contexts where the pres-
parallel organizational forms, each governed by a different ence of clashing worlds or logics is likely to be high, as in
combination of logics. Here, as in the Moursli and Cobbaut pluralistic organizations (Denis, Langley, & Rouleau, 2007)
study, each organizational form prioritized a different logic as a such as hospitals, universities, governmental agencies, non-
result of field-level realities that supported such coexistence. profits, and so forth (Kraatz & Block, 2008), but it is never-
theless relevant to other contexts where clashes might be
more subtle. Although at its core the EW framework is about
Summarizing Similarities stability (or how stability is achieved and collective action
and Differences facilitated), this does not preempt the framework from being
As the above paragraphs illustrate, there are various aspects used to explore, as Stark (2009) has done, how the uncer-
in which institutional logics and the EW framework are tainty produced by conflicting worlds might actually create
similar, and various ways in which they are different. We opportunities for action. The framework is thus sufficiently
have summarized these in Table 4. flexible that it can be used for exploring the dynamics under-
As regards similarities, both approaches seek to explain scoring both institutional stability and institutional change.
collective action and both rely primarily on plurality of cog-
nitive beliefs for doing so. Both approaches conceptualize
dispute or disagreement over divergent beliefs similarly and Opportunities for Extension
conceptualize the possible outcomes of dispute in similar We thus argue here that there is much the EW framework
ways (see Table 3). Where they differ is in how much agency can do to help extend current theorizing around institutional
they confer to social actors for shaping field-level realities, logics, and thus help deepen our understanding of how
in how fluid they perceive field-level realities to be (field- higher order belief systems impact modes of interaction
level beliefs are more changeable within the EW framework between social actors and consequently multiple aspects of
as compared with institutional logics), and in the idea that everyday life, including practices, beliefs, and organiza-
worthiness (or legitimacy in institutional terms) can be tional forms. In particular, the framework can be helpful for
granted in degrees. Thus, within the EW framework, actors filling some of the blind spots identified earlier in the insti-
and objects can be perceived as being more or less worthy on tutional logics perspective, a summary of which can be
the basis of various criteria, such as how well they have met found in Table 5. We now return to these blind spots to
the exigencies of a particular test of worth or how substantial articulate how the EW framework adds insight in each case.
their commitment to the beliefs and values of a particular In particular, we discuss some recent applications of the EW
world has been. Finally, the EW framework focuses much of framework and place them in parallel with studies of institu-
its attention, much more so than institutional logics, on con- tional phenomena. Much of the early work that mobilized
flict and dispute between worlds and how such conflicts are the EW framework was published in French and followed a
resolved, thus allowing for more intimate insights into separate and parallel path to the tradition of Anglo-Saxon

Downloaded from jmi.sagepub.com at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on September 13, 2013


370 Journal of Management Inquiry 22(4)

Table 4. A Comparison of Epistemological and Ontological Assumptions Between Approaches.

Friedland and Alford Boltanski and Thvenot


Label Logics Worlds or orders of worth (terms are used
alternately)
Definition Organizing principles of the central Ordering principles based on shared definitions of the
institutions of the capitalist West that shape common good that people establish for the purpose
individual preferences and organizational of assessing themselves and one another and that enable
interests, and that help frame collective collective action
action
Assumptions about Shifts between logics may occur when a Stability is negotiated locally on an ongoing basis
change field evolves; stability is the result of actors by competent actors in public debates over what is
seeking to conform to or realign with legitimate or not
dominant logics
Domain specificity Assumes that in certain domains, certain Worlds refer to accepted definitions of the common good
logics tend to prevail (e.g., each logic parses that can apply to any domain
to a specific domain)
Mutual exclusivity Logics are mutually exclusive. Can Worlds not seen as interdependent but multiple worlds
sometimes be interdependent, and multiple can coexist in the form of arrangements or compromises
logics can coexist although it is expected
that one or at most two logics will dominate
in a given field
Level of analysis Primary focus is at the field level (higher Primary focus is at the level of wider society
order logics are instantiated at the level of
the field)
Term used for defining Legitimacy or appropriatenessDefined as WorthinessCan be assessed by degrees; beliefs,
what is acceptable yes or no; beliefs, practices, and so on are practices, actors, and objects can be more or less
either legitimate or not legitimate legitimate depending on certain criteria
Agency of actors Limited. Logics are usually taken for granted Considerable. Social actors can draw on worlds
strategically to suit their purpose

organizational institutionalism. However, since the transla- For example, taking an institutional logics perspective,
tion of Boltanski and Thvenots (2006) foundational text, Dunn and Jones (2010) examined the prevalence and persis-
there have been an increasing number of contributions that tence of competing logics in medical education: a science
have not only drawn on the EW framework but that have logic (that one could associate with the industrial order of
done so with an awareness of and explicit attention to its worth) and the care logic (that might be associated with the
potential relevance to institutional thinking. An examination domestic order of worth). They show how the prevalence of
of these studies in parallel helps highlight how the two these logics in medical education discourse has been affected
approaches might gain from each other. by a variety of factors over long periods of time, including
the creation of new medical schools, the development of
schools of public health, and the rise of managed care mod-
Micro-Level Processes and Recursiveness els. The macro-level forces driving shifting logics are clearly
As discussed earlier, with some exceptions (Battilana & of interest, but understanding how the two come to be inte-
Dorado, 2010; Reay & Hinings, 2009; Zilber, 2002), most grated and woven together on the ground may require differ-
studies of multiple institutional logics in action have taken ent analytic tools.
a more macro-level approach. Consequently, the micro- From this perspective, Moreiras (2005) EW-based ethno-
level processes whereby institutional logics emerge and graphic study of the development of medical practice guide-
interact, and where compromises are produced are largely lines shows some complementary dynamics to those
invisible. As described above, the EW framework, in con- described by Dunn and Jones (2010) but at a more micro
trast, emphasizes precisely these micro-level processes, and level. In this study, we see committees dedicated to develop-
in particular the way in which actors draw on the resources ing guidelines for medical practitioners engaged directly in
associated with the different worlds in everyday interac- building compromise between worlds in interaction. The
tions to produce ongoing arrangements and compromises worlds that Moreira identifies echo in many ways the logics
that enable collective action. identified by Dunn and Jones in their study. The tenets of

Downloaded from jmi.sagepub.com at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on September 13, 2013


Cloutier and Langley 371

Table 5. Blind Spots of the Institutional Logics Approach and How They Might Be Addressed by the EW Framework.

Institutional logics EW
Microfoundations and Recognizes embeddedness and recursiveness Takes a toolkit approach and provides a detailed
recursiveness theoretically but downplays agency (logics repertoire of cultural-cognitive and normative
are parsed to domains, and therefore are not resources that, when mobilized by actors to address
thought to be equally available to actors at all legitimacy struggles (see next box), makes the processes
times and in all situations) underscoring recursiveness explicit
Underspecifies how actors both influence Assumes that actors can call on all available resources
and are influenced by surrounding logics at all times and in all situations (thus, Boltanski and
and consequently cannot fully explain how Thvenots worlds do not parse to specific domains)
recursiveness is enacted in practice
Legitimacy struggles Logics are viewed as providing vocabularies Legitimacy (defined as worthiness) is at the core of
of motive and identity, and only secondarily as the EW framework; each world represents a different
sources of legitimacy conceptualization of what is considered to be worthy
By neglecting the idea of struggle over what from a specific point of view
is right and appropriate (from a legitimacy Struggles are viewed as the result of deep-seated
standpoint) to do in different contexts, the logics disagreement over the criteria whereby situations, beliefs,
approach loses sight of important mechanisms practices, and so on are deemed appropriate or not
whereby conflict and contradictions are Uses the concept of test to explain how legitimacy
overcome, and/or agreements are sustained over struggles are resolved or overcome
time Approach draws specific attention to institutionalized
mechanisms of resolution, which during struggles over
legitimacy can themselves be brought into question
Morality Current perspectives have largely eclipsed moral Each world is based on a different shared conception
aspects underscoring beliefs of the common good, and thus has an explicit moral
Logics are viewed as essentially amoral; primary grounding
focus is on cognitive elements Even market mechanisms are viewed in moral terms
Materiality Recognizes that logics have material effects The material manifestations of worlds are recognized
(effects on power, structure, and/or practices) in the form of tangible and intangible objects, which are
but underplays the materiality of logics part of the repertoire of resources that actors can call
themselvesFor example, their representation on when engaging in legitimacy debates
in objects
Conceptualization is primarily cognitive
Note: EW = economies of worth.

evidence-based medicine (associated with the industrial authors identify four generic ways by which the bridging of
world, similar to Dunn and Joness science logic) are juxta- logics occurs, they do not elaborate on the micro-level inter-
posed dynamically in debates with the need for doctors to actions and justifications that underlie coordination in spe-
consider specificities and the inability to impose technical cific situations. Using the EW framework to undertake a
standards on the highly individualized interpersonal relation- detailed ethnographic study of such interactions in situ could
ship they feel they need to maintain with patients (the domes- help reveal how the full range of cultural-cognitive and
tic world, similar to Dunn and Joness care logic). The use of material resources available from different worlds might be
the EW framework in this study helped show how guideline mobilized to enable collective action.
development in medical practice is achieved by attending to In summary, the EW framework addresses the issue of
a diversity of forms of knowledge, and not just scientific micro-level processes and recursiveness by conceptualizing
knowledge, as is frequently believed. At the same time, the individuals as competent social actors capable of rhetorically
study reveals how a medical practice guidelinean insti- mobilizing repertoires of cultural-cognitive and material
tutionalized object that might subsequently influence practi- resources in an effort to impose a particular worldview on
tioners for some timeis fabricated in interaction by a given situation. From this point of view, social actors
drawing on the tenets of different worlds. Reay and Hiningss influence their institutional environment as much as they are
(2009) study of the interaction between the institutional log- influenced by it. Such a view helps highlight the micropro-
ics of medical professionalism and businesslike health care cesses whereby understandings of appropriateness evolve,
in Alberta is often cited as an exemplary study of how mul- notably as they are repeatedly subject to tests and proofs of
tiple logics may coexist at the micro level. Yet, although the commitment (in the form of investments) that themselves are

Downloaded from jmi.sagepub.com at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on September 13, 2013


372 Journal of Management Inquiry 22(4)

institutionally defined. Rather than seeing cognitive under- suggesting that people do have the reflexive competence to
standings (e.g., logics) as leading necessarily to structuring draw on a wider range of cultural resources than simply the
behaviors (Purdy & Gray, 2009), from the EW frameworks specific logics under review. For example, what Suddaby
perspective, the capacity for agency is seen to be embedded and Greenwood label value-based arguments seem related to
in the ever-present set of tools for justification that compe- the civic order of worth, historical arguments that refer to the
tent actors have at their disposal, and is thus mutually consti- authority of tradition can be associated with the domestic
tutive with structure. worth, and teleological arguments referring to notions of
progress and effectiveness can be associated with the indus-
trial worth (see the appendix). This suggests that an analysis
Legitimacy Struggles drawing on EWs full repertoire of cultural resources might
Legitimacy struggles are central to the EW framework, and have been able to capture in a revealing way a wider range of
this offers another way in which it may be used to extend justifications, including those that reached beyond the repro-
institutional thinking. In this light, it is interesting to compare duction of the conflicting logics themselves. Indeed, one
Suddaby and Greenwoods (2005) institutional logics-based might argue (following the study by Patriotta et al., 2011)
study of legitimacy struggles in the accounting and law pro- that it was precisely the invocation of justifications that were
fessions with a recent EW study also dealing with the disrup- not profoundly tied to the specific logics that were being
tion of legitimacy and the struggles involved in restoring it. defended that might enable participants to bridge the divide
Patriotta et al. (2011) recently used the EW framework to that separated them and persuade adversaries and observers.
examine processes of legitimacy maintenance in the wake of Another aspect of the situation described by Suddaby and
a nuclear accident in Germany. Their analysis shows how the Greenwood (2005) where the EW framework might have
company deemed responsible for the accident sought to some purchase in better understanding legitimacy struggles
maintain legitimacy in its aftermath by strategically using is in the notion of tests of worth. Clearly, the Securities and
various justifications inspired by different worlds to appease Exchange Commission (SEC) and Bar Association hearings
or counter legitimacy challenges addressed to it by key within which the rhetorics described by the authors were
stakeholders. The article shows how the firms initial reflex produced are examples of tests in which the legitimacy of
to mobilize almost exclusively industrial world justifications different institutional forms is being critiqued and called into
and forms of evidence (technical data about effectiveness question, and where compromises are being fabricated. The
and safety of nuclear power plants) soon gives way to a more tests constituted by the SEC and Bar Association hearings
diverse range of arguments based on the market order of could themselves be considered for their own grounding in
worth (nuclear power as a cheap source of energy), an different worlds or orders of worth. To understand the nature
increasing use of civic and domestic rationales (the firms of these tests, it would be important to consider for each
capacity to solve local energy problems in a trustworthy what could be accepted as legitimate material evidence, who
manner), and even an increasing use of a green rationale are considered to be worthy judges, and what forms of justi-
(nuclear power as clean energy). The authors argue that it is fication are likely to be considered acceptable. A more fine-
the capacity to draw on a variety of worlds rather than to grained analysis of the particular forums in question and the
become trapped in bipolar conflict that in the end contributes forms of justification legitimated by them would be neces-
to legitimacy repair and reproduction, and consequently sary to fully understand the processes and outcomes of the
institutional maintenance. struggles in question.
A similar approach might have been applied to Suddaby In summary, legitimacy struggles are central to the EW
and Greenwoods (2005) study of rhetoric surrounding the approach, with each world representing a different conceptu-
legitimacy of multidisciplinary practices as a new organiza- alization of what is legitimate from a specific point of view.
tional form. In this study, the authors inductively analyze the This view allows for a potentially more robust and precise
rhetoric used by proponents and opponents of multidisci- explanation for how and why institutional conflict is resolved,
plinary practice (lawyers and accountants as part of a com- and why such resolutions are more or less durable over time.
bined practice). Had they applied the EW framework to guide
their analysis, they might have been able to better character-
ize the cultural resources that actors called upon in making Moral Dimension of Logics
their respective case for the legitimacy of one organizational The worlds identified by Boltanski and Thvenot (2006)
form over another. Suddaby and Greenwood frame this debate were elaborated based on texts grounded in moral philoso-
as conflict between two institutional logics they call trustee phy, and it is this moral dimension that renders their reper-
and expertise models of professionalism. Their emerging toire of cultural toolkits viable in a wide variety of different
categories of rhetoric do however often show resemblance to situations as a basis for justification and legitimacy struggle.
Boltanski and Thvenots worlds that hint at but go beyond the It is also this moral dimension that underlies the insistence
obvious dimensions of the professional logics themselves, on and capacity for critique, in which individuals confront

Downloaded from jmi.sagepub.com at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on September 13, 2013


Cloutier and Langley 373

others whose positions are perceived as unworthy in rela- were brought to bear through the objects and people that
tion to the world considered to be appropriate or right in that legitimated them. He noted that in the scientific repertoire
particular situation. based on the industrial world, The worth of a statement is
It is interesting to reconsider yet again Suddaby and associated with the quantity of reliable studies and/or num-
Greenwoods (2005) study from this perspective. These ber of patients involved that can be gathered to support an
authors argue that the proponents of the multidisciplinary argument, and that these are brought to the table inscribed
practice model were accessing what Suchman (1995) labeled in graphical representation such as meta-analysis forest
pragmatic legitimacy, associated with self-interest, whereas plots or flow charts (Moreira, 2005, p. 1979). In the reper-
the opponents were accessing moral legitimacy based on toire of practice (associated with care and the domestic
values. These do indeed correspond well to the definitions world), however, it is not the weight of scientific proof but
that Suchman developed. Yet, an EW perspective might have specific personal stories and accounts of care situations that
led to a slightly different viewnotably by suggesting that have value, and the more so if they are brought forward by
both sides were seeking moral legitimacy, each grounded in patient representatives who materially embody this world
a different world. Thus, for instance, the examples of market and whose opinions are actively solicited by general practi-
world justification provided in Suddaby and Greenwoods tioners attempting to bring forward the tenets of this world
article would not be seen as grounded in the self-interest of to the discussion of practice guidelines.
its proponents but rather in a different interpretation of the Thus, material beings (a word used by Boltanski and
collective good: one in which competitiveness and the satis- Thvenot to group objects and people) become particularly
faction of customer needs take precedence. It seems to us salient in the context of tests of worth, with different tests
that emphasizing moral legitimacy for one side in the legiti- bringing to bear different kinds of evidence in relation to the
macy struggle but not the other may not do full justice to the different evaluative principles in play. Another interesting
nature of the debate. example of how institutional logics and material arrange-
In this study, the moral dimension on both sides can simi- ments may be intimately related concerns precisely the
larly be seen in how protagonists engage in mutual critique. recent transformation of tests of value in the travel industry
Market-based justifications are drawn on by proponents of (Scott & Orlikowski, 2012) where the traditional methods of
the multidisciplinary model to condemn the unworthy anti- star rating using expert inspections (i.e., grounded in the
competitive behavior of those who favor prohibiting such industrial world) have been to a large extent superseded by
practices, whereas opponents critique the multidisciplinary popularity contests drawing on consumer reviews (i.e., tests
model as undermining auditors objectivity and as therefore grounded in the world of fame) wired into web-based tech-
conducive to reciprocally unworthy betrayal of civic nologies. The different interweavings of people, material
imperatives to protect the public. The EW framework thus objects, technologies, and practices produce quite different
strongly sensitizes researchers to the moral foundations conceptions of value, with potential to transform relations of
underlying legitimacy struggles as well as to the capacity of accountability in this industry. Overall, this reaffirms the
individuals to sense the appropriateness of justifications in potential relevance of the notion of test as well as the mate-
context. As divergences over what, in moral terms, is per- rial forms that accompany it, in better understanding the
ceived to be right and wrong in various contexts frequently manifestation, reproduction, and recursive performance of
underscores actor motivations to change the institutional sta- institutional logics in situated contexts.
tus quo, paying closer attention to how actors mobilize moral
arguments in social interaction should help us better under-
stand both the triggers and processes that underscore institu- Opportunities for Rapprochement
tional change. and Development
Although the EW framework has much to offer given its theo-
retical affinities with institutional theory and in particular
Materiality institutional logics, it is not without its limitations. These limi-
As mentioned, the institutional logics perspective has also tations might be addressed, interestingly enough, by a more
tended to underplay the role played by material objects in systematic rapprochement between both theories. We discuss
the resolution of institutional struggles. In contrast, as shown here two areas where both theories have limitations and where
in the appendix and as discussed earlier, in the EW frame- rapprochement or joint development might be valuable.
work, materiality is embraced explicitly, with tangible and
intangible objects as well as embodied actors included as
part of the repertoire of resources that actors can call upon Relationships Between
when engaging in legitimacy debates. For example, in the Nested Levels of Analysis
study of the fabrication of medical practice guidelines men- Both institutional logics and the EW framework recognize the
tioned above, Moreira (2005) showed how different worlds interplay of logics or worlds at different levels of analysis

Downloaded from jmi.sagepub.com at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on September 13, 2013


374 Journal of Management Inquiry 22(4)

nested. Logics operating at other levels (field, industry, orga-


Society Society nization, for example) are thought to be local instantiations
of these higher order logics. Thornton et al.s (2012) recent
theoretical analysis of the emergence and evolution of field-
level logics goes some way toward elucidating the mecha-
Field Field nisms by which this might occur. However, in most empirical
studies undertaken to date, the relationship between societal-
level and field-level logics has so far been largely assumed
or taken for granted.
Indeed, with very few exceptions (Thornton et al., 2005),
Individual or group Individual or group
scholars conducting studies using an institutional logics per-
spective claim that the field-level logics they have identified
inductively represent field-level instantiations of higher
Institutional Logics EW Framework
order societal logics, but these societal-level logics are not
clearly defined and the exact relationship between both is
Loose or not fully defined relationship ambiguous at best. In all fairness, establishing such links is
no easy task, as doing so requires elaborating on the specific
Strong relationship contents of higher order institutional logics (their substantive
and material elements) that would allow for points of diver-
Occasional relationship (usually thought of as exceptional)
gence and convergence with field-level or organizational-
level observations to be drawn. At the level of individual
Figure 1. Relationships between levels of analysis.
Note: EW = economies of worth. Arrows indicate primary direction of studies, drawing such links may not even be inherently use-
relationship. ful, as long as the way in which field-level logics are
described and substantiated in the data is sound. However, if
scholars wish to move beyond field-level studies so as to be
(organization, field, and society most often but not exclu- able to make comparisons between fields (Greenwood et al.,
sively; Thornton & Ocasio, 2008). Both approaches differ 2011), then such links must be drawn more systematically
however on which levels they take to be most relevant for and comprehensively. Doing so may prove fruitful in various
analytical purposes and on which direction the relationship ways, in particular as it would be one way of helping to
between levels tends to take. Thus, although Thornton et al. bridge the micromacro divide in institutional theory more
(2012) have recently reemphasized the embeddedness of systematically than has been done to date.
field-level institutional logics in societal-level institutional The EW framework. Although most studies drawing on
orders, the primary focus of the empirical institutional logics institutional logics have so far remained silent about how
literature so far has been on the field level, and the primary nestedness occurs, the EW tends to leap directly from the
direction of influence of field-level logics is usually seen as societal level to the individual level of analysis. In theorizing
downward toward the group or individual level of analysis. about the different higher orders of worth that all organiza-
Occasionally, individual social actors or groups (often in the tional actors can draw on in all situations, Boltanski and
form of institutional entrepreneurs) will intervene and poten- Thvenot (2006) tended to minimize the extent to which
tially impact the configuration of field-level logics. The institutional dynamics at the level of the field might be affect-
primary focus of the EW framework, however, is squarely ing how actors interpret each world (if indeed they can per-
on the societal level, where worlds shape the thinking and ceive them) and how ultimately they use any of the
beliefs of individual- and group-level actors who in turn world-related institutional resources at their disposal. Thus,
wield influence upward toward the field (see Figure 1 for a in moving away from critical sociology and taking a toolkit
visual representation of these relationships). What becomes (Silber, 2003; Swidler, 1986) approach to explain what guides
apparent through this visualization is that both approaches and motivates human behavior and action, Boltanski and
are not only incomplete but also complementary when it Thvenot have partially eclipsed important institutional ideas
comes to fully explaining the relationships between worlds such as institutional constraint and isomorphism. Conse-
or logics at different levels of analysis. We explain these quently, their theorizing around the EW framework cannot
relationships more fully in the following paragraphs. convincingly account for the more routine, taken-for-granted
Institutional logics. In their original conceptualization, aspects of human behavior.
Friedland and Alford (1991) discussed the specific case of This has left a gap in the EW frameworknotably, how to
logics operating at the level of wider society. These are insti- explain that in some sectors or fields, certain worlds almost
tutions that permeate society at its highest level and in which always tend to prevail? How to explain that even though
institutions at lower levels are either partially or wholly actors can theoretically draw on the cultural-cognitive

Downloaded from jmi.sagepub.com at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on September 13, 2013


Cloutier and Langley 375

resources of any world to discursively and materially chal- organization in the coffee industry. Through a detailed
lenge (or defend) the status quo, they do not do so? So for description of the price-setting mechanism in this organiza-
instance, scholars of pragmatist sociology, at least in their tion, we see how a field-level logic of fair trade is consti-
original writings, eschew the question of dominancefor tuted in opposition to the traditional logic of the market. In
them, there are only situations of accord (where coordination this organization, price is established by a committee rather
runs smoothly) or discord (which requires that actors draw than by a market test of value. It is the justifications among
on symbolic and material resources to collectively reassess members of this committee, drawing on both the civic
the legitimacy of the situation and resolve the dispute so that worlds notion of collective consensus and the industrial
coordination can resume). French pragmatists, for example, worlds notion of objective value based on calculation of
do not question why or in what ways accord might be prob- the true costs of production, that agreement and compro-
lematic. On one hand, applying the concept of a generic mise about an appropriate price for fair-trade goods was
resource toolkit (what the EW framework effectively is) to established. So even though in this case, individual actors
institutional thinking is a powerful idea, giving institutional were calling upon societal-level worldviews to make the
researchers the means for explaining, at a micro level, how case for how fair-trade price should be calculated at a
institutional logics interact, coexist, and/or come to shift local level, as more organizations joined the group and
over time and making it possible to compare observations adopted the same mechanism for setting fair-trade prices
across fields. On the other hand, field-level influences must (e.g., the newly created mechanism diffuses), we begin to
also be taken into consideration as their effects are all too witness the institutionalization of a field-level practice.
real. It is here where both institutional theory and pragmatist What is interesting is that Boltanski and Thvenots theo-
sociology can build on each other, effectively overcoming rizing stops at the level of the local compromise (the agree-
key shortcomings of both approaches and helping demarcate ment reached between actors for how to establish fair
more clearly the relationships between levels of analysis market prices for a particular organization, for example). It
(individual, organization, field, society). is only when we begin to integrate a view closer to that
For example, empirical studies that have used the EW espoused by institutional theorists that we get to see the
framework to study organizations (Boisard & Letablier, bigger picturehow small, localized debates over what is
1989; Moursli & Cobbaut, 2006) have had to grapple with right and appropriate eventually become institutionalized
how to generalize their observations to the level of the more widely, or (because they fail to diffuse) do not. We
organization or the field. Indeed, to draw conclusions believe that there is an important opportunity to draw on
about their observations, these scholars have had to extrap- the EW framework (and in particular, its notion of test) to
olate organizational- and field-level effects from observa- more systematically examine research questions around the
tions of individual actors making claims and justifying emergence and proliferation of field-level logics, to enable
their actions in specific situations. Although those who better and more empirically grounded understandings of
draw on world resources to make legitimacy claims in a how nested levels of logics become interconnected.
specific context are necessarily individuals, it is the collec-
tive effect of many individual actors making similar or dif-
ferent claims, both within and without the organization, The Treatment of Power
that are of particular interest to organizational and institu- The EW framework, at least in the form put forward in
tional scholars. On Justification (Boltanski & Thvenot, 2006), does not
Over time, it is these collective effects that institutional- consider power in its theorization, something its origina-
ize what is ultimately deemed to be legitimate or not in a tors themselves recognize: Power relations do not play
given field, which helps explain why in certain fields, the an important role in the frame of analysis chosen for the
legitimacy of any given actor, object, or practice, regardless economies of worth. They are not a subject matter of On
of the situation, will tend to always be based on criteria Justification, but not because we thought power relations
stemming from the same world, something that Boltanski were non-existent (Basaure, 2011, interview with Luc
and Thvenot do not explore fully given their tendency to Boltanski, p. 369). In other writings, Boltanski and
ignore organizational- and field-level effects. Combining Thvenot qualified the EW framework by noting the
approaches thus makes it possible to consider both individ- boundary conditions surrounding its application to situa-
ual and collective effects, without necessarily downplaying tions where public face-to-face justification is the main
or overplaying one or the other. form of coordination, situations that they refer to as
For example, an interesting application of the EW rgimes of justice. This excludes for example rgimes
framework can be found in a recent ethnographic study by of violence (or force) where choices are constrained and
Reinecke (2010) of price setting in a fair-trade labeling critique is suppressed, and rgimes of love (or agap)

Downloaded from jmi.sagepub.com at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on September 13, 2013


376 Journal of Management Inquiry 22(4)

where people interact peacefully without questioning the Conclusion


principles underlying their activity (Basaure, 2011;
Boltanski, 1990; Boltanski & Thvenot, 1999). In this article, we have argued that Boltanski and Thvenots
Essentially then, the EW framework assumes situa- (1991, 2006) repertoire of worlds offers an interesting perspec-
tions in which individual actors are able to freely draw tive through which to further our understanding of institutional
from a pool of regimes of criticism and justification that logics and how logics influence institutionalization and deinsti-
have been made available to them (Silber, 2003) and that tutionalization processes. It is our view that bringing institutional
their success in imposing their particular legitimacy logics and the EW framework closer together provides an inter-
claims in a particular situation depends on the skill with esting means for addressing some key theoretical concerns (or
which they make them (Fligstein, 1997; Hallett & blind spots, as we have referred to them) raised by institutional
Ventresca, 2006). Empirically however, it is unlikely that scholars in recent years, blind spots that cannot, we think, be
social actors are ever entirely free in this regard, regard- adequately addressed using current conceptualizations of logics.
less of their level of skill or competency, and that field- We suggest that bridging these two theories, by adopting some
level institutional realities most likely constrain their true of the EW frameworks epistemological and ontological assump-
range of options. If they do not fully constrain them, they tions, can help us better explain how recursiveness between
will minimally interfere with how much traction a non- agency and structure in institutional contexts unfolds or how
mainstream legitimacy claim is likely to gain in a given legitimacy struggles are resolved in practice. Such an approach
situation. The trichotomous division of situations into helps focus our attention on the microprocesses underscoring
rgimes of justification, violence, and love (Boltanski & how legitimacy is manufactured and sustained (Barley, 2008;
Thvenot, 1999) does not do justice to the subtle ways in Patriotta et al., 2011; Suddaby & Greenwood, 2005). The EW
which cultural and political influences coexist. framework helps us do this notably by making salient, thanks to
Interestingly, although the institutional perspective its toolkit conceptualization of worlds, the range of discursive
has recently become more attuned to the issue of power and material resources that actors draw on when engaged in
relations and institutions, and although institutional log- legitimacy struggles (Hardy, Palmer, & Phillips, 2000). Such a
ics have been described as contributive to structuring focus helps reveal, among other things, the social skills
those power relations (Thornton & Ocasio, 2008), institu- (Fligstein, 1997) and competencies that social actors need to
tional theory has itself also been criticized for its limited deploy in social interaction when they are seeking to induce
treatment of power (Cooper, Ezzamel, & Willmott, 2008; cooperation, a process that still remains a black box in institu-
Lawrence, 2008). This is an area where both perspectives tional studies (Hallett & Ventresca, 2006).
deserve further development. There remains much to be There has been, within organizational institutionalism, a
done to fully understand how, why, and with what conse- continuing chasm between what have been rhetorically
quences institutional logics come to dominate a field, dis- termed the old and new institutionalisms, where the old
ciplining organizations and individuals activities, and focused on action embedded in social interaction in specific
yet individuals and organizations may still retain suffi- and localized communities and the new gives priority to a
cient agency to mobilize critique and thus influence the more macro view, focusing its attention on the field and soci-
institutional mechanisms that regulate their behavior. It etal levels of analysis (DiMaggio & Powell, 1991). In the
seems as though whereas historically, institutional theory view of Hirsch and Lounsbury (1997, p. 406), institutional
has tended to overemphasize the constraining power theory has consequently shifted away from the contextual
effects of institutions (control), the EW framework has richness of action perspectives toward more structuralist
tended to overemphasize individuals capacity for reflex- paradigms and in so doing has lost something important
ivity (agency and resistance). Lawrence (2008) has along the way. Their call is for a more balanced approach to
argued for an approach that better integrates the power the action-structure duality (Hirsch & Lounsbury, 1997, p.
dynamics of control, agency, and resistance within insti- 406), in particular because, as we have argued consistently
tutional thinking. Similarly, Boltanskis (2011) recent throughout this article, the details of micro-level action are
writings involve an attempt to reconcile his version of needed to explain how macro-level institutions change (p.
pragmatic sociology represented in On Justification with 412). They underscore the importance of recognizing that
Bourdieusian critical sociology that emphasizes the legitimacy can be obtained by means other than just imitat-
potency of mechanisms of oppression. Although the ana- ing the success of others. If institutional theory wishes to
lytical tools are different, there is promising convergence hold onto its already wide appeal, it will need to give itself
on the need for further development on this important the means for exploring these important questions. Bridging
topic. Again, a rapprochement between both approaches with other theories and areas of scholarship, as we have sug-
might be helpful in this regard. gested here, is one means of doing so.

Downloaded from jmi.sagepub.com at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on September 13, 2013


Cloutier and Langley 377

Appendix
Summary of Attributes of Each EW World
World Inspired Domestic Fame Civic Market Industrial
Higher Inspiration Tradition, Public opinion Civic duty Competition Efficiency,
common hierarchy performance
principle

Characteristics
State of Bizarre, different, Benevolent, well Celebrity, Representative, Desirable, Effective,
worthiness original, bred, wise, sensible prestige, public free, official, valuable, functional,
spontaneous recognition statutory wealthy dependable
State of Habit, routine, Impoliteness, Banal, unknown Division, isolation, Loss, poverty Amateurism, lack
deficiency reality inconsiderateness, individualism of productivity
treason, vulgarity
Relation of Independence, Respectability, Recognition, Membership, Possession Mastery
worth uniqueness responsibility, notoriety, delegation
authority, honor visibility
Actions and behaviors
Human Love, passion, Comfort, ease, Well known, Freedom, Self-interest, Work, energy,
dignity creativity judgment reputed, visible, democracy, civil desire, activities
persuasive rights consumption
Investment Risk, detour, Rejection of Abandonment Renunciation of Opportunism Progress, effort,
formula calling into selfishness, duty, of privacy personal interests, investment
question obligation solidarity, struggle
Material manifestations
List of Visionary, child, Father, king, Star, fans, Elected officials, Competitors, Professionals,
subjects artist woman, fairy, superiors, inferiors, spokesperson, the party, client, buyer, experts, specialists
crank boss stranger, chief thought leader members, seller
representatives
List of Spirit, body, dream, Good manners, Media, brand, Elections, law, Wealth, luxury Tools, resources,
objects the unconscious etiquette, titles, campaign, committees, lists, objects methods, plans,
rank, gifts message criteria, decrees, norms, tasks
codes
Harmonious The imaginary, The home, the Public image, The state, The market The system
figures of the the unconscious family, customs, the audience democracy,
natural order conventions, electorates,
principles parliament
Model test Adventure, quest, Family ceremonies, Presentation, Demonstration in Deal, Test, control,
journey celebrations, press favor of a moral transaction, launch
marriage conference, cause, assembly contract
launch
Source: EW = economies of worth. Adapted from Boltanski and Thvenot (1991), pp. 177-262.

Acknowledgments Declaration of Conflicting Interests

We wish to thank Laure Cabantous, Jean-Pascal Gond, and The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect
especially Davide Ravasi for their careful reading of earlier to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
versions of this article and their thoughtful and detailed sugges-
tions that helped considerably improve and strengthen it. We Funding
are also grateful to Journal of Management Inquiry editor The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support
Nelson Phillips for his support as well as our three anonymous for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This
reviewers for their encouraging and insightful comments study was supported by funding from the Social Sciences and
throughout the review process. Research Council of Canada (Charlotte Cloutier and Ann Langley)

Downloaded from jmi.sagepub.com at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on September 13, 2013


378 Journal of Management Inquiry 22(4)

and the Fonds qubcois de recherche sur la socit et la culture Boltanski, L. (2011). On critique: A sociology of emancipation.
(Ann Langley). Cambridge, UK: Polity.
Boltanski, L., & Thvenot, L. (1991). De la justification: Les con-
Notes omies de la grandeur. Paris, France: Les Editions Gallimard.
1. Despite obvious affinities, Friedland and Alfords institutional Boltanski, L., & Thvenot, L. (1999). The sociology of critical
logics and Boltanski and Thvenots different economies of capacity. European Journal of Social Theory, 2, 359-377.
worth have essentially developed in parallel, with little or no Boltanski, L., & Thvenot, L. (2006). On justification: Economies
overlap, perhaps in part because On Justification did not appear of worth. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
in English until 2006. Although Thornton and Ocasio (2008) do Cooper, D. J., Ezzamel, M., & Willmott, H. (2008). Examining
mention Boltanski and Thvenot in their handbook chapter on institutionalization: A critical theoretic perspective. In R.
institutional logics, they list them only as precursors, which is Greenwood, C. Oliver, K. Sahlin, & R. Suddaby (Eds.), The
surprising, given that both streams of thought emerged virtually Sage handbook of organizational institutionalism (pp. 673-
simultaneously, and given the language divide, it is quite 701). London, England: Sage.
unlikely that one influenced the other at the time. Czarniawska, B. (2008). How to misuse institutions and get
2. Boltanski and Thvenot alternately use orders of worth, away with it: Some reflections on institutional theory(ies). In
economies of worth, worlds, and occasionally, regimes of R. Greenwood, C. Oliver, K. Sahlin, & R. Suddaby (Eds.), The
action in reference to the same idea. For clarity and simplicity, Sage handbook of organizational institutionalism (pp. 769-
we will henceforward use the term worlds. 782). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
3. A tabular presentation of all the grammatical elements for each Deephouse, D. L., & Suchman, M. (2008). Legitimacy in organiza-
world appears in the appendix. tional institutionalism. In R. Greenwood, C. Oliver, K. Sahlin,
& R. Suddaby (Eds.), The Sage handbook of organizational
References institutionalism (pp. 49-77). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Amblard, H., Bernoux, P., Herreros, G., & Livian, Y.-F. (1996). Les Delmestri, G. (2006). Streams of inconsistent institutional influ-
nouvelles approches sociologiques des organisations. Paris, ences: Middle managers as carriers of multiple identities.
France: Seuil. Human Relations, 59, 1515-1541.
Baert, P., & Carreira da Silva, F. (2010). Social theory in the twenti- Denis, J.-L., Langley, A., & Rouleau, L. (2007). Strategizing in plu-
eth century and beyond (2nd ed.). Cambridge, UK: Polity. ralistic contexts: Rethinking theoretical frames. Human Rela-
Barley, S. R. (2008). Coalface institutionalism. In R. Greenwood, tions, 60, 179-215.
C. Oliver, K. Sahlin, & R. Suddaby (Eds.), The Sage handbook DiMaggio, P. J. (1991). Constructing an organizational field
of organizational institutionalism (pp. 491-518). Thousand as a professional project: U.S. art museums, 1920-1940. In
Oaks, CA: Sage. W. W. Powell & P. J. DiMaggio (Eds.), The new institutionalism
Basaure, M. (2011). An interview with Luc Boltanski: Criticism in organizational analysis (pp. 267-292). Chicago, IL: Univer-
and the expansion of knowledge. European Journal of Social sity of Chicago Press.
Theory, 14, 361-381. DiMaggio, P. J., & Powell, W. B. (1991). Introduction. In W. B.
Battilana, J., & Dorado, S. (2010). Building sustainable hybrid Powell & P. J. DiMaggio (Eds.), The new institutionalism in
organizations: The case of commercial microfinance organi- organizational analysis (pp. 1-38). Chicago, IL: The University
zations. Academy of Management Journal, 53, 1419-1440. of Chicago Press.
Bnatoul, T. (1999). A tale of two sociologies: The critical and DiMaggio, P. J., & Powell, W. W. (1983). The iron-cage revisited:
pragmatic stance in contemporary French sociology. European Institutional isomorphism and collective rationality in organi-
Journal of Social Theory, 2, 379-396. zations. American Sociological Review, 48, 147-160.
Binder, A. (2007). For love and money: Organizations creative Dunn, M. B., & Jones, C. (2010). Institutional logics and institu-
responses to multiple environmental logics. Theory and Soci- tional pluralism: The contestation of care and science logics in
ety, 36, 547-571. medical education, 1967-2005. Administrative Science Quar-
Boisard, P., & Letablier, M.-T. (1987). Entreprises et produits. terly, 55, 114-149.
Paris, France: Presses Universitaires de France. Fligstein, N. (1997). Social skill and institutional theory. American
Boisard, P., & Letablier, M.-T. (Eds.). (1989). Un compromis Behavioral Scientist, 40, 397-405.
dinnovation entre tradition et standardisation dans lindustrie Friedland, R., & Alford, R. R. (1991). Bringing society back
laitire. Paris, France: Presses universitaires de France. in: Symbols, practices and institutional contradictions. In
Boltanski, L. (1990). Lamour et la justice comme comptences: W. W. Powell & P. J. DiMaggio (Eds.), The new institutionalism
Trois essais de sociologie de laction. Paris, France: ditions in organizational analysis (pp. 232-263). Chicago, IL: Chicago
Mtaili. University Press.

Downloaded from jmi.sagepub.com at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on September 13, 2013


Cloutier and Langley 379

Glynn, M.-A., & Lounsbury, M. (2005). From the critics corner: Logic Lawrence, T. B., Suddaby, R., & Leca, B. (2009). Institutional
blending, discursive change and authenticity in a cultural produc- work: Actors and agency in institutional studies of organiza-
tion system. Journal of Management Studies, 23, 1031-1055. tions. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Goodrick, E. (2000). From management as a vocation to manage- Lok, J. (2010). Institutional logics as identity projects. Academy of
ment as a scientific activity: An institutional account of a para- Management Journal, 58, 1305-1335.
digm shift. Journal of Management, 28, 649-668. Lounsbury, M. (2002). Institutional transformation and status
Greenwood, R., Diaz, A. M., Li, S. X., & Lorente, J. C. (2010). mobility: The professionalization of the field of finance. Acad-
The multiplicity of institutional logics and the heterogeneity of emy of Management Journal, 45, 255-266.
organizational responses. Organization Science, 21, 521-539. Lounsbury, M. (2007). A tale of two cities: Competing logics and
Greenwood, R., Raynard, M., Kodeih, F., Micelotta, E. R., & practice variation in the professionalizing of mutual funds.
Lounsbury, M. (2011). Institutional complexity and organiza- Academy of Management Journal, 50, 289-307.
tional responses. Academy of Management Annals, 5, 317-371. Lounsbury, M., Ventresca, M., & Hirsch, P. M. (2003). Social move-
Greenwood, R., & Suddaby, R. (2006). Institutional entrepreneur- ments, field frames and industry emergence: A culture-political
ship in mature fields: The big five accounting firms. Academy perspective on US recycling. Socio-Economic Review, 1, 71-104.
of Management Journal, 49, 27-48. Maguire, S., & Hardy, C. (2006). The emergence of new global
Greenwood, R., Suddaby, R., & Hinings, C. R. B. (2002). Theo- institutions: A discursive perspective. Organization Studies, 27,
rizing change: The role of professional associations in the 7-29.
transformation of institutional fields. Academy of Management March, J. G. (1994). A primer on decision making. New York, NY:
Journal, 45, 58-80. Free Press.
Hallett, T., & Ventresca, M. J. (2006). Inhabited institutions: Social Marquis, C., & Lounsbury, M. (2007). Vive la resistance: Compet-
interactions and organizational forms in Gouldners patterns of ing logics and the consolidation of US community banking.
industrial bureaucracy. Theory and Society, 35, 213-236. Academy of Management Journal, 50, 799-820.
Hardy, C., Palmer, I., & Phillips, N. (2000). Discourse as a strategic Meyer, M. W., & Rowan, B. (1977). Institutionalized organizations:
resource. Human Relations, 53, 1227-1248. Formal structure as myth and ceremony. American Journal of
Haveman, H. A., & Rao, H. (1997). Structuring a theory of moral sen- Sociology, 83, 340-363.
timents: Institutional and organizational co-evolution in the early Moreira, T. (2005). Diversity in clinical guidelines: The role of rep-
thrift industry. American Journal of Sociology, 102, 1606-1651. ertoires of evaluation. Social Science & Medicine, 60, 1975-
Heimer, C. A. (1999). Competing institutions: Law, medicine and 1985.
family in neonatal intensive care. Law & Society Review, 33, Moursli, A.-C., & Cobbaut, R. (2006). Analyse de la co-existence
17-66. dorganismes non-lucratives, lucratives et publiques dans le
Hirsch, P., & Lounsbury, M. (1997). Ending the family quarrel: secteur des maisons de repos. In F. Eymard-Duvernay (Ed.),
Toward a reconciliation of old and new institutionalisms. Lconomie des conventions - Mthodes et rsultats. Tome II:
American Behavioral Scientist, 40, 406-418. Dveloppements (pp. 351-365). Paris, France: La Dcouverte.
Jagd, S. (2011). Pragmatic sociology and competing orders of worth in Orlikowski, W. (2007). Sociomaterial practices: Exploring technol-
organizations. European Journal of Social Theory, 14, 343-359. ogy at work. Organization Studies, 28, 1435-1448.
Jones, C., & Livne-Tarandach, L. (2008). Designing a frame: Pache, A.-C., & Santos, F. (2010). When worlds collide: The inter-
Rhetorical strategies of architects. Journal of Organizational nal dynamics of organizational responses to conflicting institu-
Behavior, 29, 1075-1099. tional demands. Academy of Management Review, 35, 455-476.
Kraatz, M. S., & Block, E. S. (2008). Organizational implications of Patriotta, G., Gond, J.-P., & Schultz, F. (2011). Maintaining legiti-
institutional pluralism. In R. Greenwood, C. Oliver, K. Sahlin, & macy: Controversies, orders of worth and public justifications.
R. Suddaby (Eds.), The Sage handbook of organizational insti- Journal of Management Studies, 48, 1804-1836.
tutionalism (pp. 243-275). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Powell, W. W., & Colyvas, J. A. (2008). Microfoundations of
Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social: An introduction to institutional theory. In R. Greenwood, C. Oliver, K. Sahlin, &
actor-network theory. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. R. Suddaby (Eds.), The Sage handbook of organizational insti-
Lawrence, T. B. (2008). Power, institutions and organizations. In tutionalism (pp. 276-298). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
R. Greenwood, C. Oliver, K. Sahlin, & R. Suddaby (Eds.), The Purdy, J. M., & Gray, B. (2009). Conflicting logics, mechanisms
Sage handbook of organizational institutionalism (pp. 170- of diffusion, and multilevel dynamics in emerging institutional
197). London, England: Sage. fields. Academy of Management Journal, 52, 355-380.
Lawrence, T. B., & Suddaby, R. (2006). Institutions and institu- Rao, H., Monin, P., & Durand, R. (2003). Institutional change in
tional work. In S. Clegg, C. Hardy, W. R. Nord, & T. B. Lawrence Toque Ville: Nouvelle cuisine as an identity movement in
(Eds.), Handbook of organization studies (pp. 215-254). Thou- French gastronomy. American Journal of Sociology, 108,
sand Oaks, CA: Sage. 795-843.

Downloaded from jmi.sagepub.com at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on September 13, 2013


380 Journal of Management Inquiry 22(4)

Reay, T., & Hinings, C. R. B. (2009). Managing the rivalry of com- Thornton, P. H., Ocasio, W., & Lounsbury, M. (2012). The insti-
peting institutional logics. Organization Studies, 30, 629-652. tutional logics perspective. Oxford, UK: Oxford University
Reinecke, J. (2010). Beyond a subjective theory of value and Press.
towards a fair price: An organizational perspective on Vaisey, S. (2009). Motivation and justification: A dual-process
Fairtrade minimum price setting. Organization, 17, 563-581. model of culture in action. American Journal of Sociology,
Scott, R. W. (2008). Institutions and organizations: Ideas and inter- 114, 1675-1715.
ests. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Whiteman, G., & Cooper, W. H. (2000). Ecological embedded-
Scott, R. W., Ruef, M., Mendel, P. J., & Caronna, C. A. (2000). ness. Academy of Management Journal, 43, 1265-1282.
Institutional change and healthcare organizations. Chicago, Zilber, T. (2008). The work of meanings in institutional pro-
IL: Chicago University Press. cesses and thinking. In R. Greenwood, C. Oliver, K. Sahlin, &
Scott, S. V., & Orlikowski, W. J. (2012). Reconfiguring relations of R. Suddaby (Eds.), The Sage handbook of organizational
accountability: Materialization of social media in the travel sec- institutionalism (pp. 151-169). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
tor. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 37, 26-40. Zilber, T. (2011). Institutional multiplicity in practice: A tale of
Silber, I. F. (2003). Pragmatic sociology: A cultural sociology beyond two high-tech conferences in Israel. Organization Science,
repertoire theory? European Journal of Social Theory, 6, 427-449. 22, 1539-1559.
Stark, D. (2009). The sense of dissonance: Account of worth in eco- Zilber, T. B. (2002). Institutionalization as an interplay between
nomic life. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. actions, meanings, and actors: The case of a rape crisis cen-
Stryker, R. (2000). Legitimacy processes as institutional politics: ter in Israel. Academy of Management Journal, 45, 234-254.
Implications for theory and research in the sociology of organiza- Zucker, L. (1988). Where do institutional patterns come from?
tions. Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 17, 179-223. Organizations as actors in social systems. In L. Zucker
Suchman, M. C. (1995). Managing legitimacy: Strategic and instru- (Ed.), Institutional patterns and organizations: Culture and
mental approaches. Academy of Management Review, 20, 571-610. environment (pp. 23-49). Cambridge, MA: Ballinger.
Suddaby, R., & Greenwood, R. (2005). Rhetorical strategies of
legitimacy. Administrative Science Quarterly, 50, 35-67. Author Biographies
Swidler, A. (1986). Culture in action: Symbols and strategies. Charlotte Cloutier is currently an assistant professor of man-
American Sociological Review, 51, 273-286. agement at Hautes tudes commerciales de Montral (HEC
Thornton, P. H. (2002). The rise of the corporation in a craft indus- Montreal). Her current research focuses on understanding strat-
try: Conflict and conformity in institutional logics. Academy of egy processes as they unfold in pluralistic organizations (non-
Management Journal, 45, 81-101. governmental organizations, trade associations, hospitals,
Thornton, P. H., Jones, C., & Kury, K. (2005). Institutional log- universities, government ministries, or agencies, etc.), notably
ics and institutional change in organizations: Transformation in from a strategy-as-practice perspective.
accounting, architecture and publishing. Research in the Sociol-
ogy of Organizations, 23, 125-170. Ann Langley is a professor of management at HEC Montral
Thornton, P. H., & Ocasio, W. (1999). Institutional logics and the and Canada research chair in strategic management in pluralis-
historical contingency of power in organizations: Executive tic settings. Her recent research focuses on strategic change,
succession in the higher education publishing industry, 1958- leadership, identity, and the use of management tools in com-
1990. American Journal of Sociology, 105, 801-843. plex organizations with an emphasis on processual research
Thornton, P. H., & Ocasio, W. (2008). Institutional logics. In approaches. She has published more than 50 articles and two
R. Greenwood, C. Oliver, R. Suddaby, & K. Sahlin-Andersson books. She is an adjunct professor at the Norwegian School of
(Eds.), The Sage handbook of organizational institutionalism Economics and Business Administration and the Department of
(pp. 99-129). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Health Administration at the University of Montreal.

Downloaded from jmi.sagepub.com at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on September 13, 2013