Performative Work: Bridging Performativity and Institutional Theory in the Responsible Investment Field

Daniel Beunza, Fabrizio Ferraro

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Callon’s performativity thesis has illuminated how economic theories and calculative devices shape markets, but has been challenged for its neglect of the organizational, institutional and political context. Our seven-year qualitative study of a large financial data company found that the company’s initial attempt to change the responsible investment field through a performative approach failed because of the constraints posed by field practices and organizational norms on the design of the calculative device. However, the company was subsequently able to put in place another form of performativity by attending to the normative and regulative associations of the device. We theorize this route to performativity by proposing the concept of performative work, which designates the necessary institutional work to enable translation and the subsequent adoption of the device. We conclude by considering the implications of performative work for the performativity and the institutional work literatures.
Callon’s performativity thesis has illuminated how economic theories and calculative devices shape markets, but has been challenged for its neglect of the organizational, institutional and political context. Our seven-year qualitative study of a large financial data company found that the company’s initial attempt to change the responsible investment field through a performative approach failed because of the constraints posed by field practices and organizational norms on the design of the calculative device. However, the company was subsequently able to put in place another form of performativity by attending to the normative and regulative associations of the device. We theorize this route to performativity by proposing the concept of performative work, which designates the necessary institutional work to enable translation and the subsequent adoption of the device. We conclude by considering the implications of performative work for the performativity and the institutional work literatures.
LanguageEnglish
JournalOrganization Studies
Number of pages29
ISSN0170-8406
DOIs
StatePublished - 23 Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Epub ahead of print. Published online: 23. February 2018

Keywords

  • Actor network theory
  • Performativity
  • Materiality
  • Institutional theory
  • Corporate social performance
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Economic sociology
  • Financial system

Cite this

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title = "Performative Work: Bridging Performativity and Institutional Theory in the Responsible Investment Field",
abstract = "Callon’s performativity thesis has illuminated how economic theories and calculative devices shape markets, but has been challenged for its neglect of the organizational, institutional and political context. Our seven-year qualitative study of a large financial data company found that the company’s initial attempt to change the responsible investment field through a performative approach failed because of the constraints posed by field practices and organizational norms on the design of the calculative device. However, the company was subsequently able to put in place another form of performativity by attending to the normative and regulative associations of the device. We theorize this route to performativity by proposing the concept of performative work, which designates the necessary institutional work to enable translation and the subsequent adoption of the device. We conclude by considering the implications of performative work for the performativity and the institutional work literatures.",
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author = "Daniel Beunza and Fabrizio Ferraro",
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Performative Work : Bridging Performativity and Institutional Theory in the Responsible Investment Field. / Beunza, Daniel ; Ferraro, Fabrizio.

In: Organization Studies, 23.02.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

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T2 - Organization Studies

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AU - Ferraro,Fabrizio

N1 - Epub ahead of print. Published online: 23. February 2018

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Y1 - 2018/2/23

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AB - Callon’s performativity thesis has illuminated how economic theories and calculative devices shape markets, but has been challenged for its neglect of the organizational, institutional and political context. Our seven-year qualitative study of a large financial data company found that the company’s initial attempt to change the responsible investment field through a performative approach failed because of the constraints posed by field practices and organizational norms on the design of the calculative device. However, the company was subsequently able to put in place another form of performativity by attending to the normative and regulative associations of the device. We theorize this route to performativity by proposing the concept of performative work, which designates the necessary institutional work to enable translation and the subsequent adoption of the device. We conclude by considering the implications of performative work for the performativity and the institutional work literatures.

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KW - Performativity

KW - Materiality

KW - Institutional theory

KW - Corporate social performance

KW - Corporate social responsibility

KW - Economic sociology

KW - Financial system

KW - Actor network theory

KW - Performativity

KW - Materiality

KW - Institutional theory

KW - Corporate social performance

KW - Corporate social responsibility

KW - Economic sociology

KW - Financial system

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