Institutional logics and institutional change in organizations: Transformation in accounting, architecture, and publishing

Patricia H. Thornton, Candace Jones, Kenneth Kury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We contribute to the literature on institutional and organizational change by integrating two related areas of study: the theory and methods of analysis informed by the research on institutional logics and historical-event sequencing. Institutional logics provide the theory to understand how the content of culture influences organizational change; historical-event sequencing reveals the underlying patterns of cultural transformation. We apply this dual perspective to the cases of institutional stability and change in organizational governance in three industries: accounting, architecture, and higher-education publishing. Research on governance has focused on changes in organizational design between markets, hierarchies, and networks. Missing from this research is an understanding of how institutions at the wider societal level motivate organizations to adopt one of these governance forms over another. We examine how the governance of firms in these industries has been influenced by the institutional logics of the professions, the market, the state, and the corporation by focusing on three mechanisms - institutional entrepreneurs, structural overlap, and historical-event sequencing. Overall, our findings reveal how accounting was influenced by state regulation producing a punctuated equilibrium model, architecture by professional duality producing a cyclical model, and publishing by market rationalization producing an evolutionary model of institutional change in organizational governance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-170
Number of pages46
JournalResearch in the Sociology of Organizations
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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