Journal Article | Academy of Management Journal | February 2009

Suspended in Self-Spun Webs of Significance: A Rhetorical Model of Institutionalization and Institutionally Embedded Agency

by Sandy Edward Green, Yuan Li and Nitin Nohria

Abstract

This article employs rhetorical theory to reconceptualize institutionalization as change in argument structure. As a state, institutionalization is embodied in the structure of argument used to justify a practice at a given point in time. As a process, institutionalization is modeled as changes in the structure of arguments used to justify a practice over time. We use rhetoric surrounding the institutionalization of total quality management (TQM) practices within the American business community as a case study to illustrate how conceptualizing institutionalization as changes in argument structure can help show how institutions simultaneously constrain and enable social action.

Keywords: Debates; Management Practices and Processes; Trust; Adoption; Theory; United States;

Citation:

Green, Sandy Edward, Yuan Li, and Nitin Nohria. "Suspended in Self-Spun Webs of Significance: A Rhetorical Model of Institutionalization and Institutionally Embedded Agency." Academy of Management Journal 52, no. 1 (February 2009): 11–36.