Showdown at Kykuit: Field-Configuring Events as Loci for Conventionalizing Accounts

28 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2008


Despite the centrality of fields as a concept in organizational research, the processes by which fields form and change have not been studied in great depth. By situating action in time and space, field-configuring events (FCEs) offer valuable settings for researchers seeking insight into such processes. This paper develops a theory of accounts as a way to understand a mechanism by which institutional entrepreneurs seek to shape fields and influence the institutions that govern them. Actors produce and distribute justified accounts narratives that describe the way work in the field ought to be done and attempt to persuade powerful actors in the field to adopt them as conventions. FCEs can thus be understood as loci for conventionalizing accounts. The theory of accounts and field-level change is illustrated with a case study of a turning point FCE during which competing institutional entrepreneurs in the field of non-profit technology assistance providers present alternative accounts. Successful institutional entrepreneurship comes from recognizing political opportunities to align one's account with the dominant orders of worth in the field, thereby convincing powerful actors to accept one's account as convention.

Suggested Citation

McInerney, Paul-Brian, Showdown at Kykuit: Field-Configuring Events as Loci for Conventionalizing Accounts. Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 45, Issue 6, pp. 1089-1116, September 2008. Available at SSRN: or

Paul-Brian McInerney (Contact Author)

UIC ( email )

4112 Behavioral Sciences Building (BSB)
1007 W. Harrison St.
Chicago, IL 60607-7140
United States

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