Rhetoric that wins clients: Entrepreneurial firms use of institutional logics when competing for resources

Candace Jones*, Reut Livne-Tarandach, Lakshmi Balachandra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Entrepreneurial firms such as professional service firms (PSFs) face constant challenges to acquire resources, one of the greatest of which is the challenge to win client engagements. Although rhetoric is at the center of the challenge to win client engagements, scholars have not identified what rhetorical strategies are the most persuasive to potential clients. By exploring one type of PSF, architecture firms, we argue that PSFs can compete for and legitimate themselves with clients by deploying institutional logics that provide symbolic frameworks and meaning. Since multiple institutional logics exist in society, a critical question for a PSF is which logic is most persuasive to clients. We analyze architecture firms' written pitches to predict which rhetoric strategies win the valuable resource of a client engagement for a multiclient state project. Our results identify that rhetoric deploying a "profession" logic was most effective whereas a "business" logic was counter-productive in obtaining client engagements and securing resources for the firm.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInstitutions and Entrepreneurship
EditorsWesley D Sine, Robert J David
PublisherEmerald Publishing
Number of pages36
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-85724-240-2
ISBN (Print)978-0-85724-239-6
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Publication series

NameResearch in the Sociology of Work
ISSN (Print)0277-2833


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