Competing Institutional Logics of Organizations in Switzerland and China: The Development of Social Enterprises in Different contexts

Institutional Logic is focussing on how broader belief systems shape the cognition and behavior of actors. According to Friedland and Alford (1991) Institutions are defined as both supra organizational patterns of activity by which individuals and organizations produce and reproduce their material subsistence and organize time and space. They are also seen as symbolic systems, ways of ordering reality, thereby rendering experience of time and space meaningful. Thornton and Ocasio (1999) define institutional logics as the socially constructed, historical patterns of material practices, assumptions, values, beliefs, and rules by which individuals produce and reproduce their material subsistence, organize time and space, and provide meaning to their social reality. Focusing on macro-societal phenomena, Friedland and Alford (1991) identified several key Institutions: the Capitalist market, bureaucratic state, democratic, nuclear family, and Christianity that are each guided by a distinct institutional logic. More recently, Thornton, Ocasio and Lounsbury (2012) added community as another key institutional order. This revision to a theoretically abstract and analytically distinct set of ideal types makes it useful for studying multiple logics in conflict and consensus, the hybridization of logics, and institutions in other parts of society and the world. While building on Friedland and Alford’s scheme, the revision addresses the confusion created by conflating institutional sectors with ideology (democracy) and means of organization (bureaucracy), variables that can be characteristic several different institutional sectors.  Thornton and Ocasio (2008) discuss the importance of not confusing the ideal types of the inter-institutional system with a description of the empirical observations in a study that is to use the ideal types as meta theory and method of analysis. With this project we would like to explore how hybrid organizations, which incorporate competing institutional logics such as capitalistic market thinking and social objectives are internally managed in order to embody those logics. With regards to the different context in many dimension between China and Switzerland, the comparison between governance of companies in those two countries is thus crucial. This would help to better understand the underlying principle of the institutional logic debate on the one hand side but also help to foster collaboration between the two countries.

Participants :
  • Dr. Xiaomeng Zhang Renmin University of China - School of Marxism Studies Website
  • Prof. Thomas Straub UNIGE - Faculty GSEM Website