Using events to reach your goals. A study on Strategic Discourse in Institutional Change in light of a Disruptive Event

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Scholars on institutional change tend to argue that particular events are inherently disruptive to an organizational field. This, however, interferes with the social constructivist roots of institutional theory. Rather, the disruptiveness of an event depends on its social construction. This can be deliberately influenced by theorization, which is a discursive and strategic method to legitimize change. So far, studies on theorization mainly focused on its outcome, instead of its process. Also, the role of events in this process has received limited attention. This study aimed to investigate the theorization process in institutional change after a disruptive event, by studying the institutionalization of CRM-training in commercial aviation after the Tenerife Air Disaster. To study this, I conducted interviews and collected documents. A discourse analysis of these data showed that theorization efforts occurred throughout the entire process of institutional change. Moreover, the process of theorization seems to have a cyclical nature. These findings add to the small body of research that understands theorization as a process that spans the entire institutional change process. Further research should focus on testing these findings, as well as investigating the actual effects of each type of theorization effort on the process of institutional change.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen