Typical Atypicality: Formal and Informal Institutional Conformity, Deviance, and Dynamics Defended on Thursday, 7 June 2012
This dissertation examines the differential effects of formal and informal societal orders, or institutions, in stable markets. Patterns of individual and organizational conformity with and deviance from these structures may arise from either the dynamics of the institutional order or the overlap of different institutions.
Institutional change is often conceptualized as the replacement of an established institution with a new set of beliefs and practices. However, change may also reflect a more subtle process of modification that ensures that the institution retains its coherence over time. I propose three different forms of institutional change, expansion, displacement, and contraction, and argue that the effect of each form on potency differs. In order to ascertain the presence of these forms of institutional change, I first analyze modifications to the provisions of a formal institution, the Enterprise Bankruptcy Law of the People’s Republic of China. I then examine their influence on organizational entry into bankruptcy and find that displacement and contractive have a negative effect on potency.
In addition to differences in how institutions change, differences in audience expectations may also contribute to patterns of observed deviance. I examine the effect of social status and market categories at the individual and organizational level on the inter-firm mobility of attorneys working for international law firms in Hong Kong. Results from a longitudinal study indicate that while individual-level deviance from the categorical order is sanctioned, the association with status moderates this negative effect. At the organizational level, category spanning positively influenced inter-firm mobility if the attorney occupied the same categories as their current employer.
institutional theory, status, market categories, regulatory change, inter-firm mobility, transition economies, law firms