This article contributes to the theory of rhetorical institutionalism (Green & Li, 2011) by considering the relationship between institutional entrepreneurs and the institutional fields in which they operate as configured by rhetorical strategies. Thus, we posit that the legitimacy of institutional entrepreneurs and institutional fields, respectively, is an inherently rhetorical construct (Suddaby & Greenwood, 2005), whereby rhetorical engagement becomes central to the establishment, maintenance, and reform of institutions (Brown, Ainsworth & Grant, 2012; Green, Babb & Alpaslan, 2008). Working with an illustrative case of the Co-operative Bank's financial distress and leadership scandal, we identify three particular strategies of rhetorical engagement with competing institutional logics, which we label convergence, conflict, and divergence. Thus, we add to the theory of rhetorical institutionalism by arguing, broadly, that institutional fields are arenas of rhetorical engagement between competing institutional logics and identifying, more specifically, three rhetorical strategies for constituting institutional legitimacy.
Bibliographical noteEpub ahead of print. Published online: 15. June 2020
- Institutional legitimacy
- Institutional logics
- Institutional entrepreneurship
- Rhetorical institutionalism
- Rhetorical engagement
- The co-operative bank