ATTENTION TO VARIED FORMS OF AGENCY
The test draws attention to three forms of agency of varying
degrees of intentionality with regard to organizing principles that
may manifest themselves in combination in moments of test.
- First form: moderate degree of intentionality;
Interpretive agency involves efforts to ensure the proper
instantiation of an organizing principle in the specific situations
actors find themselves in.
- Second form: highest degree of intentionality;
Strategic agency involves efforts to challenge and undermine
the prevalent organizing principle, or to reassert an organizing
principle as adequate for the situation at hand, or even to
introduce a new principle in a situation of ambiguity.
- Third form: lowest degree of intentionality;
Pragmatic agency involves the suspension of the testing
and avoidance of confrontation around value schemes so that
action may resume. It consists in pragmatic accommodations
ATTENTION TO RELATIONALITY
The test draws attention to the relational nature of institutional
work, where actions engender emergent reactions as forms
of agency develop and evolve in context. It is this relational
interaction that generates outcomes, not the specific behaviors
of any particular agent.
ATTENTION TO TEMPORALITY
Tests punctuate the evolution of institutions. The test provides
a strong unit of analysis for considering the interplay of “quiet
periods” and moments of contestation in institutional evolution.
There is value in moving the unit of analysis away from specific
actors and towards the sequence of moments of test to better
capture the continuing nature of institutional work.
- Production and maintenance of opposing legitimating
accounts, all drawing on the civil rights principle, to determine
the mode of application of non-discrimination workplace policies
to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people (Creed, et al.,
- Efforts by environmentalists to change the basis for logging
decisions in the forest industry (Zietsma & Lawrence, 2010). A
form of agency that constitutes disruptive institutional work in
- Tolerance of rule violations within the Cambridge University
Boat Race team to enable action to continue (Lok & de Rond,
2012). A combination of the third form of agency (called
“containment work” by the authors) and the first form of
agency (called “restoration work” and found in cases of severe
deviations) promoted institutional maintenance.
- McInerney’s (2008) conventionalist study of a field configuring
event in the non-profit technology assistance field. The study
illustrates a moment of test in which the highly deliberate efforts
of one actor based on one set of principles were countered by
the more opportunistic reactions of another actor that succeeded
in structuring the principles in the field (an example of creative
institutional work). The outcome could not be explained without
understanding the nature of actions and reactions in context.
- Yamaguchi and Suda’s (2010) conventionalist study of
controversies about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in
Japan over 20 years. The study examines the interplay of quiet
periods and moments of controversy in the evolution of social
representations of GMOs.