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Beyond Constraining and Enabling: Toward New Microfoundations for Institutional Theory

Cardinale, Ivano. 2018. Beyond Constraining and Enabling: Toward New Microfoundations for Institutional Theory. Academy of Management Review, 43(1), pp. 132-155. ISSN 0363-7425 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In this article I argue that the quest to establish microfoundations for institutional theory is hindered by two assumptions on which it currently rests: that structure simply constrains and enables action and that agency is mostly associated with reflexivity. I unpack these two assumptions and propose alternative microfoundations on which (1) structure not only constrains and enables action but also actively orients it toward some possibilities over others, and (2) the pre-reflective dimension of agency is explicitly theorized. It thus becomes possible to bridge long-standing divides within institutional theory, opening up avenues for further developing its microfoundations.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


agency, Bourdieu, institutional theory, microfoundations, practice, structure

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Institute of Management Studies


18 December 2016Accepted
13 April 2017Published Online
1 January 2018Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

07 Mar 2017 14:53

Last Modified:

27 Nov 2018 16:37

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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