Bringing change into the lives of the poor: Entrepreneurship outside traditional boundaries

Ignasi Martí, Johanna Mair

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Introduction The powerful imagery of entrepreneurship as a means to induce and explain institutional change is gaining momentum (Greenwood & Suddaby, 2006; Lawrence & Suddaby, 2006). In response to criticisms that institutional theory was chiefly being used to explain homogeneity and persistence, important efforts have been devoted to restoring human agency in explanations of endogenous institutional change (DiMaggio, 1988; Sewell, 1992; Emirbayer & Mische, 1998). However, the image of the entrepreneur as institutional change agent has also been a source of controversy among institutional theorists, especially when accompanied by voluntarist, un-embedded conceptions of individual action (Holm, 1995; Leca & Naccache, 2006). As a result we observe vivid scholarly discussions on how to solve the “paradox of embedded agency”– i.e. on explaining how institutional change is possible if actors are fully conditioned by the institutions that they wish to change (Holm, 1995; Seo & Creed, 2002; Greenwood & Suddaby, 2006). The current debate is important and we welcome more agent-oriented views on institutions. The purpose of this chapter is to advance institutional theory by rethinking various aspects of institutional work (Lawrence & Suddaby, 2006; DiMaggio, 1988) and thereby to contribute new insights into the paradox of embedded agency. We do so by challenging and breaking dominant patterns in current empirical research. While previous research on institutional entrepreneurship has predominantly looked at elite and/or powerful actors (DiMaggio, 1988; Fligstein & Mara-Drita, 1996) who assume either peripheral (Leblebici, Salancik, Copay & King, 1991) or central (Greenwood & Suddaby, 2006) positions, we focus instead on institutional work carried out by actors with limited power and very few resources.

Idioma originalAnglès
Títol de la publicacióInstitutional Work
Subtítol de la publicacióActors and Agency in Institutional Studies of Organizations
EditorCambridge University Press
Nombre de pàgines28
ISBN (electrònic)9780511596605
ISBN (imprès)9780521518550
Estat de la publicacióPublicada - 1 de gen. 2009
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