Revisiting the Phenomenon of Interests in Organizational Institutionalism

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Revisiting the Phenomenon of Interests in Organizational Institutionalism

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Title: Revisiting the Phenomenon of Interests in Organizational Institutionalism
The Case of U.S. Chambers of Commerce
Author: Crawford, Brett
Abstract: Much of the organizational institutionalism literature suggests that the phenomenon of interests is a central construct, however, portrays interests in an overly deterministic, rational, and liberal way. In this thesis, I challenge those views and suggest that interests are a complex and interdependent socially constructed phenomenon. Accordingly, interests represent an actor’s recognition, perceived importance, and participation in a number of figurations and social games. Illustrated through the institution of U.S. chambers of commerce, I explore how chambers of commerce have withstood a changing American culture to become both the world’s largest business federation and public-private partnership. Moreover, even as the United States represents the most liberal of liberal market economies, chambers of commerce represent a context where capitalists have set aside market competition and unified their interests to become one of the largest and most influential institutions in the world. Following a brief introduction of interests and chambers of commerce, this thesis begins with the first paper, which is a critical review of the phenomenon of interests within the organizational institutionalism literature. Tracing the conceptual variety of both the origins and functions of interests in institutional studies, I illustrate how an overly deterministic and rational view of interests is problematic. The critical review continues with a discussion of my critiques of the extant literature followed by an introduction of a less rational and calculative approach to interests by coupling Bourdieu’s (1998) conceptualization of interests with Elias’s (1978) sociology emphasizing figurations and social games. The three subsequent empirical papers test this approach to interests on macro-, meso-, and micro-levels of the institution of chambers of commerce.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10398/8452
Date: 2012-05-30

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