Historical Research on Institutional Change
Call for papers
Special issue in Business History on Historical Research on Institutional Change, due 31 March 2016.
The important role that institutions play for all forms of organizations has been recognized in a wide variety of disciplines. Douglass North’s (1990) book on the nature of institutional change in economic history was influential in both economics and history. Likewise has among others the article by DiMaggio and Powell’s (1983) been significant in sociology and organization studies. Nevertheless, the nature of institutional change has remained a heavily contested subject that has not seen the same degree of theoretical and empirical development.
Institutional change is by its very definition a process that unfolds over long time periods with fundamentally unpredictable outcomes that can only be properly evaluated with hindsight. Because institutional change is a fundamental feature in historical research, many historians do not necessarily define or reflect on this as a research phenomenon in its own right. On the other hand many research debates in organization studies have remained curiously a-historical when developing the antecedents, outcomes and mediating factors for processes of institutionalization, institutional maintenance, and deinstitutionalization (Dacin, Munir and Tracey, 2010).
Nevertheless, between these two extremes there are many processes of institutional change in organizations that develop over time periods that are too long to research with the standard methods of qualitative social science such as interviews or participant observations. Here some historical approaches based on archival research may create more interesting research designs (Wright and Zammuto, 2013). Historical theory also has different insights to offer organization studies (Rowlinson, Hassard and Decker, 2014). It is in these areas that management and organizational history could contribute by investigating phenomena from a more long-term perspective. Suddaby, Foster and Mills (2014) have similarly argued for a more historical institutionalism to address unresolved issues in institutional theory, such as the paradox of embedded agency.
Within business and organizational history, there is an increasing interest in questions of theory and methodology. Alternative approaches, not just those drawn from the social sciences, but also from historiography, such as oral history or microhistory, offer new ways of approaching research. Historians interpret institutional theory in different ways from organization scholars (Rowlinson and Hassard, 2013), which offers new avenues for interdisciplinary dialogue.
We hope to attract papers with a long-term perspective focusing on institutions, organizations as well as on organizational fields. We envisage that papers will be empirically rich but also they are linked to current institutional theories. In addition we shall also consider theoretically or methodologically oriented contributions provided they address both historical and institutional theory concerns.
For more information, the full call may be accessed here: http://orghist.com/2015/11/07/cfp-historical-research-on-institutional-change-due-31-march-2016/