State-Owned Enterprises as Institutional Actors: A Hybrid Historical Institutionalist and Institutional Work Framework

Olivier Butzbach, Douglas B. Fuller*, Gerhard Schnyder, Liudmyla Svystunova

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Although state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are recognized as important economic actors, the literature to date has assumed close state control over SOEs and, therefore, their passive stance towards institutions. Drawing on the institutional work and historical institutionalism literatures, we challenge this view. We develop a multilevel framework of SOE top management teams' (TMTs') embedded agency, spanning the national macro-institutional level, the meso-level of regimes of state-SOE relations, and sector-specific institutions. We then derive propositions regarding the factors across these multiple levels that shape SOE TMTs' motivation, resources, and scope for institutional work. This framework allows us to explain the leeway for and likelihood of SOE TMTs' engagement in institutional work across institutional contexts.

Original languageEnglish
JournalManagement and Organization Review
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1032-1076
Number of pages45
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Published online: 27 July 2021.


  • Agency
  • Financial repression
  • Historical institutionalism
  • Institutional work
  • Institutions
  • State-owned enterprises (SOEs)

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