The Role of Verbal and Visual Text in the Process of Institutionalization

Renate Meyer, Dennis Jancsary, Markus A. Höllerer, Eva Boxenbaum

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In this article, we develop novel theory on the differentiated impact of verbal and visual texts on the emergence, rise, establishment, and consolidation of institutions. Integrating key insights from social semiotics into a discursive model of institutionalization, we identify distinct affordances of verbal and visual text based on the constitutive features of the respective semiotic modes. In an effort to extend scholarly inquiry into the relationship of text and institutions, we develop a set of propositions on how and under which conditions verbal and visual text, respectively, facilitate the institutionalization of novel ideas in each stage of the process. Our theory development has implications for research on institutions as communicative accomplishments, contributes to the nascent line of multimodal research, and provides novel insights into institutional emergence.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Review
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)392-418
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

Published online: 24. July 2017


  • Visual text
  • Verbal text
  • Affordances
  • Institutionalization
  • Social semiotics
  • Institutional theory
  • Multimodality

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