Translating to Maintain Existing Practices: Micro-tactics in the Implementation of a New Management Concept

Susanne Boch Waldorff*, Marie Henriette Madsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

5 Downloads (Pure)


Research has demonstrated how the translation of a new management concept into organizational practices is impacted by the translators’ engagement with their local context. We expand this literature by demonstrating how a heterogenous institutional context prompts translators to create practice change but also practice maintenance. Building upon an interpretive analytical framework we offer a way forward to examine relationships between societal institutions and distributed collective work in change processes. Our longitudinal qualitative study based upon interviews and observations examines how the concept of value-based healthcare was translated at a hospital. The translators developed three micro-tactics: disregard, maintenance, and displacement, grounded in their narration of practice changes. Translators enacted institutional logics differently at the levels of meaning and practice when they framed, rationalised, and contextualised the potentialities of a new concept, and this complexity provided the possibility of various practice outcomes. We contribute to the understanding of translation by demonstrating how a heterogenous institutional context encourages translators to change selected practices but also to decouple and maintain most of the existing practices due to their enactment of institutionalised rationalities. Moreover, we discuss how translation outcomes are impacted by collaborating actors’ shared interpretations of their institutional context. Collaborating translators need to agree on whether and what practice change is valuable for the organization, and change is only possible when they interpret that they have the leverage to align a new idea with dominant institutional logics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)427-450
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Published online: 27 Jun 2022.


  • Translation
  • Editing
  • Institutional logics
  • Decoupling
  • Value-based healthcare
  • Interpretive analytical framework
  • Micro-tactics
  • Collaborative translation work

Cite this