Research Summary

The enabling conditions for institutional entrepreneurship

by Julie Battilana


Under what conditions can actors, whose beliefs and actions are influenced by their institutional environment, diverge from the institutional status quo? The first stream of research in Professor Battilana’s work aims to address this question. To do so, she has examined the enabling role of actors’ social position both within their organization and within their field of activity, in a series of theoretical and empirical articles and book chapters. She developed a model that specifically highlights the impact that individuals' social position has on their likelihood to initiate change that diverges from the institutional status quo. This model was tested with data from 93 change projects that were conducted by 93 clinical managers from the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom between 2002 and 2004. The findings suggest that individuals' social position is an important enabling condition for change diverging from the prevailing institutions in a field and that, depending on the institutions from which they diverge, individual actors have different profiles in terms of social position.

Professor Battilana has also begun to explore the influence of other individual-level as well as community-level enabling conditions for institutional entrepreneurship that have so far received scant attention. Her findings point to the need to adopt a multi-level approach that accounts for the individual, the organizational, the field, as well as the community levels in examining the enabling conditions for institutional entrepreneurship. Apart from its theoretical implications, this line of research has important practical implications in that it helps to identify the profile of local champions for implementing change that diverges from the institutional status quo, be it in the form of public sector reforms or private sector change initiatives.