Temporary Organizations as Vehicles of Disruptive Institutional Work

Eva Boxenbaum, Sofia Pemsel, Jonas Söderlund

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearch


This paper investigates how institutional change agents used temporary organizations to disrupt institutions at the center of an organizational field. Our empirical study pertains to the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, the flagship of the Swedish healthcare field. The disruptive institutional work consisted in changing the dominant organizational principle from a professional logic to a market logic in a context of significant institutional maintenance work. We identified four consecutive phases in their disruptive institutional work: discursive, structural, legal and behavioral. We found temporary organizationsto enable advancement from one phase to another when organized as a megaproject and reinforced by a public-private partnership contractual agreement. Our findings suggest that temporary organizations represent a potentially powerful and under-recognized vehicle of disruptive institutional work that, in combination with discursive and material forms of such work, enable institutional change agents to effectively disrupt institutions at the center of a field, overcoming even intensive institutional maintenance work.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2019
Number of pages60
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event11th International Process Symposium Organizing in the Digital Age. PROS 2019: Understanding the Dynamics of Work, Innovation, and Collective Action - Minoa Palace, Chania, Crete, Greece
Duration: 1 Jun 201922 Jun 2019
Conference number: 11


Conference11th International Process Symposium Organizing in the Digital Age. PROS 2019
LocationMinoa Palace
CityChania, Crete
Internet address


  • Institutional change
  • Temporary organizations
  • Institutional work

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