The Role of Visual Communication in the Process of Institutionalization

Renate Meyer, Dennis Jancsary, Eva Boxenbaum, Markus Höllerer

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review


How does visual communication contribute to the emergence and consolidation of new institutions? Previous research on institutionalization has primarily focused on verbal text and neglected its interaction with visual forms of communication. We propose that a more thorough and systematic engagement with the ways in which the visual interacts with the verbal may help address existing ‘fault lines’ and ‘blind spots’ in our knowledge about processes of institutionalization. In order to theorize such contribution of a visual perspective, we utilize insights from social semiotics and flesh out a number of unique affordances (i.e., particular opportunities for meaning construction) of visual communication. First, we argue that the visual mode has certain ‘constitutive features’ that enable affordances different from those of verbal text. Second, we systematically discuss a set of affordances of visual communication and how it may extend, speed up, or strengthen the effect of verbal communication. Essentially, we argue that visual communication plays a crucial role in shaping the trajectory of institutionalization.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2016
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventFifth European Theory development Workshop. ETDW 2016 - Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland
Duration: 30 Jun 20161 Jul 2016
Conference number: 5


ConferenceFifth European Theory development Workshop. ETDW 2016
LocationHanken School of Economics
Internet address


  • Visual communication
  • Visual affordances
  • Stages and process of institutionalization
  • Social semiotics
  • Communicative institutionalism
  • Organization and management studies

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