Research & Projects


Institutionalism and Professional Service Firms

Embedded Agency in Highly Institutionalized Field and the Interaction of Field Members

This study reports a case of embedded agency from the German accounting industry, which cannot be explained by extant approaches to the paradox for embedded agency. Based on an instrumental case study this paper will present a new explanation of embedded agency highlighting the interaction between the actors of an organizational field.

This study explains embedded agency along three major patterns:
(1) Even most embedded actors strive for further embeddedness, which leads to a (2) competition or struggle for embeddedness, and (3) agency of embedded actors can be the result of a social expectation.

Non strategic agency unintended institutional change: A power based perspective

Power is a central concept in explaining agency in institutional theory (Hensmans, 2003; Reay & Hinings, 2005). But there are competing understandings of power in the institutional literature. Either institutions are overly powerful, which impedes an explanation for agency; or the institutional entrepreneur is overly powerful, which allows to account for agency but ignores the fundamental assumption of institutional theory that “behavior is substantially shaped by taken-for-granted institutional prescriptions” (Greenwood & Suddaby, 2006, p. 27).

The concern of this article is to propose a concept of power, which is consistent with institutional theory and does not relax core institutionalist assumptions; but still offers an explanation for agency and institutional change. This leads to the presentation of Clegg’s (1989) framework of power along which agency will be explained. This suggests the consideration of resource dependence theory in conjunction with institutional theory, non-strategic agency, and a new perspective on embedded agency.