April readings & discussion

Welcome to the Foundations in Humanistic Management Reading Group. This month we’re experimenting with something new. Rather than looking at self-consciously humanistic articles as exemplars, we will dive into two articles that address central concepts in neo-institutional theory to ask critical questions including “does this perspective place human dignity and wellbeing at the center of theory, research, and practice?” and “how might we reframe theory to incorporate more humanistic perspective?”. This month’s readings are:

  • Suchman, M. C. (1995). Managing Legitimacy: Strategic and Institutional Approaches. Academy of Management Review20, 571–610. Link to article on JSTOR
  • Zietsma, C., & Lawrence, T. B. (2010). Institutional Work in the Transformation of an Organizational Field: The Interplay of Boundary Work and Practice Work. Administrative Science Quarterly55, 189–221. Link to article on JSTOR

The first of these articles is a classic foundational work on legitimacy, a central concept in neo-institutional theory. The second contemporary work concerns fields, also central to institutional theory, while engaging both micro and macro perspectives in the roles of individuals and institutions in field change. If you are unable to access the articles, please email Celeste Diaz Ferraro or Tyson Rallens and we can help you out.

The live group discussion will be April 8, 12:00pm-1:00 pm EDT (UTC-5). Celeste & Tyson will guide the live discussion around how humanistic perspective are (or aren’t) incorporated into institutional theory and institutional work.Due to global differences in internet bandwidth availability, participants are welcome to join the zoom platform discussion in video mode or in audio-only mode.

In the interim, please feel free to share thoughts and questions on any aspect of these articles in the comments here. It’s a near certainty that if you have a question about something, others do too!

3 thoughts on “April readings & discussion

  1. Hello! I’m looking forward to our discussion on the 8th. We can use this forum in the meantime to get some ideas flowing.

    Institution theory has come up some in my coursework – have you encountered it much before? Perhaps we can all share our level of familiarity with this set of literature, which is pretty large.

    In terms of observations, I was looking at the Zietsma and Lawrence article just now. They have a relatively strong view of actors. As they mention when alluding to the paradox of embedded agency, much of the institutional literature views actors as heavily constrained by institutions. However, the actors in Zietsma and Lawrence’s theory seem to have quite a bit of freedom. They say on page 190 “our focus is on the interplay of the work done by actors to affect boundaries and the work done to affect practices in this process.” My sense is that how actors, especially individual human actors, are modeled is an important issue for humanistic management theorists to consider.

    What else? Please post your observations too!

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