Beyond Logic and Norms: A Figurational Critique of Institutional Theory in Organisation Studies

Paddy Dolan, John Connoly


This paper provides a figurational critique of one of the most dominant theoretical frames within organisation studies - institutional theory. Despite its status as the leading theoretical lens for explaining organisational change, institutional theorists continue to struggle with the so called agency-structure issue and remain divided in how to overcome it. Our primary criticisms concern the propensity to invoke or generate dualisms, the reliance on the sociological frames which sustain this, and the failure to engage in any comprehensive way with Elias’s writings on this subject.


Figurational theory; Elias; Institutional theory; Agency-structure; Organisational change

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