Conversation at the Border Between Organizational Culture Theory and Institutional Theory

Mary Jo Hatch, Tammar Zilber

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This paper reflects our conversation at the border - a dividing line but also a potential meeting place - of organizational culture theory and institutional theory. First, we discuss the border between institutional theory and organizational culture theory by exploring two notions central to both - taken for grantedness and meanings. We ask what is taken for granted about institutions and organizational culture and how institutions and organizational cultures materialize? Our conversation reveals that although the notion of the taken for granted is important to institutional theory and organizational culture theory, what this means and implies is quite different for each. We also found that even though institutions and cultures involve meaning and evolve through meaning making, the two are understood and hence explored methodologically in quite different ways. So what seemed to be similar in these two theoretical frameworks actually differentiates them. Nevertheless, and still optimistically, we move on to suggest possible ways to bridge organizational culture theory and institutional theory, specifically through the notion of identity - both individual, organizational and interorganizational
TidsskriftJournal of Management Inquiry
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)94-97
StatusUdgivet - jan. 2012


  • Institutional logics
  • Institutional theory
  • Organizational culture
  • Organizational values
  • Shared meanings
  • Subcultures in organizations