Distinguished Scholars Seminar at Zurich – Reflections

As Isabel Boegner has already announced, we have both participated in the Distinguished Scholars Workshop on “Developments in Institutional Theory”, conducted by Royston Greenwood from the University of Alberta. Greenwood is currently one of the most influential scholars in the field of organizational institutionalism.

The seminar took place at the Chair of David Seidl at the University of Zurich from 24th – 26th of September. We were approximately 15 participants (doctoral students) given the chance to discuss several papers on institutional theory, reaching from an introduction to institutional theory to hybrids, institutional logics, and institutional complexity. Further, we have learned about categories and “emerging stuff”, such as emotions and materiality. Besides these paper-based discussion rounds, advanced doctoral students were given the opportunity to present their current research projects, discuss them and receive feedback from Royston Greenwood and the seminar participants. Ferdinand Wenzlaff from Leuphana University of Lüneburg, working in the RePort-Project, joined us and took the opportunity to present a collaborative research paper on hybrid organizational responses of European universities facing institutional complexity in the higher education field.

Greenwood admitted himself: “Organizational Institutionalism is very fluffy”. Although it was sometimes challenging to grasp the essence of neo-institutionalism and to be clear about definitional issues – for example, how to distinguish between institutional context, geographical community, and organizational field? – we spent three very nice days at the University of Zurich and got to know different facets of institutional theory. We have gathered inspirations for our collaborative research project IndiKon: The theme of hybrid organizations that are exposed to competing institutional logics in the long run is of particular interest for our research project. In this context, rankings act as field-level intermediaries shaping actors’ responses to conflicting institutional demands (Kodeih & Greenwood, 2014).

Moreover, recent developments towards a micro-level of analysis within institutional theory have become apparent during the workshop. Again, our research project will benefit from this developments.

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