More than mere words? The role of text in priming institutional logics in public management

Sahar Awan, Benard Blastus Otieno Ngoye, Vicenta Sierra Olivera, Tamyko Ysa Figueras

Producción científica: Contribución a una conferenciaContribución


The narrative of institutional logics in the analysis of public organizations picks up from their normative and regulative influence on organizations, and on their use by individual and organizational actors as frames of reference that condition their sense of self and identity, their reasoning and their decision choices (Thornton, Ocasio and Lounsbury 2012; Ashworth, Boyne and Delbridge 2007). Their diversity and multiplicity however imply that the choice of logic affects organizational and individual decision and action (Thornton, Ocasio and Lounsbury 2012; Zilber 2013). What has not been made clear is how these institutional logics are retrieved by the organizational actors in order for them to have the purpoted effects. To partially fill this gap, we draw from extant social psychology research on semantic, perceptual and behavior priming, to design an experimental study that tests the hypothesis that the retrieval of institutional logics, as frames of reference, can be triggered automatically by the presence of text cues. In line with the priming procedures used in such research (e.g.Vohs 2006; Bargh 2006), we randomly assigned 106 majority public-sector practitioners to one of three treatment groups or a control group. We activated public/bureaucratic, corporate/performance and professional/health logics through the use of mental priming techniques as a mechanism for raising the accessibility of these institutional logics as frames of reference, albeit at a subconscious level. We then assessed whether the process activated commensurate logics by use of a word stem completion task, which is a standard method in social psychology for assessing cognitive activation. Our preliminary findings suggest that (1) specific text cues can implicitly i.e., sub-consciously prime commensurate institutional logics, and that (2) these institutional logics once activated can act as a non-conscious reminder of the principles, practices and vocabulary related to that logic, thus making it a possible and accessible source of information for whatever issue the individual is grappling with in their present situation. We further observe evidence of specific patterns of co-existence and the residuality of one logic alongside a dominant other. The implications of this sub-conscious priming effect are discussed, as is the potential for new avenues of research on the cognitive aspects of institutional logics.
Idioma originalInglés
EstadoPublicada - 8 jun 2017
EventoPublic Management Research Conference 2017 (PMRC 2017) -
Duración: 8 jun 201711 jun 2017


ConferenciaPublic Management Research Conference 2017 (PMRC 2017)


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