Institutional maintenance as narrative acts

Tammar B. Zilber*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

124 Scopus citations

Abstract

IN this chapter, I address the forms of institutional work involved in symbolic institutional maintenance. Taking a narrative approach, I define symbolic institutional maintenance as the travel of institutional stories across social levels, and I explore the forms of institutional work used to translate societal meta-narratives into organizations and the lives of individuals. Based on the study of a rape crisis center in Israel, I examine the maintenance of the feminist and therapeutic institutions within which the organization was embedded. I follow the feminist and therapeutic meta-narratives prevalent in Israeli society, as they traveled into, and were modified by, the rape crisis center. Further, I follow the use of these societal-level narratives, and the organizational versions thereof, by organizational members, as they strove to make sense of their own lives and identities. I conceptualize this series of narrative acts as institutional maintenance, worked out in the interfaces of various social levels; embedded in power relations; and involving the delicate balance of duplication and change. At the societal level, institutions are embodied within diverse meta-narratives that encode the “taken-for-granted” in shared poetic tropes, like protagonists and villains, dramatic settings and plots. Organizational members carry these institutional meta-narratives into the organization. Still, societal meta-narratives that are taken up within organizations do not simply duplicate the institutional order. Rather, through reinterpretation organizational elites translate them into local – more specific and selective – versions, which are then used in organizational sense-making processes.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationInstitutional work
Subtitle of host publicationActors and agency in institutional studies of organizations
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages205-235
Number of pages31
Volume9780521518550
ISBN (Electronic)9780511596605
ISBN (Print)9780521518550
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2009

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2009.

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