Negotiating conflicting institutional logics in cases of involuntary exposure: An in-depth case study

  • Johannes Warther

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis answers the question of “How do actors navigate necessary shiftsbetween conflicting institutional logics in cases of involuntary exposure?” Itis framed within the paradigm of social constructivism and definesinstitutional logics as socially constructed historical patterns of materialpractices, assumptions, expectations, values, beliefs and rules which aredeeply held and often unexamined, forming an individuals’ framework forreasoning. The empirical context of this research is public service providersfacing elimination due to the withdrawal of their funding. Findings aredrawn from the analysis of multiple qualitative sources of data, combiningunstructured nonparticipant observations, semi-structured interviews andnumber of supplementary secondary data in the form of recordings ofmeetings as well as internal and publicly available documents. The studyreveals the significant impact of mimetic behaviour observable from theactors involved and stresses the benefit of continued meaningful interactionwith representatives of the managerial logic they are transitioning towards.It is argued that these interactions reveal deficient understanding of basicconcepts and language of the unfamiliar logic, which actors attempt to coverby mimicking those they perceive to be experts. This study also shows howthe continuity of a restrictive structure, such as a council hierarchycombined with rules and regulations can thwart and eventually revert theprogress of actors towards the adoption of a different institutional logic. Theresearch at hand makes three distinct contributions to the existing body ofknowledge on the resolution of conflicts between competing institutionallogics. It does so by providing rare insight into the failure of transitionsbetween institutional logics; developing a five stages model of resolvingconflicts between competing institutional logics and proposing a frameworkfor the categorisation of conflicts according to their origins, which expandsthe notion of the nature of a conflict’s cause by introducing the concept of aconflict’s locus.
Date of Award19 Jul 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorMichael Mayer (Supervisor) & Dimo Dimov (Supervisor)


  • institutional theory
  • institutional logics
  • public services
  • privatisation

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