Revisiting the Foundations of Institutional Analysis: A Phenomenological Perspective

Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Forthcoming

40 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2009 Last revised: 1 Jun 2020

See all articles by Joel Gehman

Joel Gehman

University of Alberta - Department of Strategic Management and Organization

Date Written: May 19, 2020

Abstract

The concept of institution has been used by scholars from across a number of disciplines to explain a wide variety of phenomena. However, the philosophical roots of this concept have not been well examined, nor have implications for contemporary institutional analysis been fully appreciated. Returning to the works of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty reveals a depth of thinking that has otherwise been overlooked by institutional theorists. In particular, my analysis reveals two critical insights. First, whereas organizational scholars have closely linked the concepts of institution and taken-for-grantedness, these two concepts were originally understood to be phenomenologically distinct. Second, a detailed examination of Merleau-Ponty’s later work poses the concept of flesh—the twining of the visible and the invisible—as the basis for the interplay of institutions. In turn, the idea of flesh as the foundation of institution invites a more radical reimagining of the growing bifurcation between micro and macro foundations.

Keywords: phenomenology, institutional theory, taken-for-grantedness

JEL Classification: B15, B25, B52

Suggested Citation

Gehman, Joel, Revisiting the Foundations of Institutional Analysis: A Phenomenological Perspective (May 19, 2020). Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1327508 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1327508

Joel Gehman (Contact Author)

University of Alberta - Department of Strategic Management and Organization ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R6
Canada
(780) 248-5855 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.joelgehman.com

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