Explaining Institutional Perception: The Role of Ego Development in Institutional Entrepreneurship
44 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2009 Last revised: 7 Apr 2014
Date Written: April 30, 2008
Despite its success in bringing agency back into organizational studies, some argue that institutional entrepreneurship leaves unresolved the paradox of embedded agency, which asks how actors are able to change the very institutions which have conditioned them. I propose dissolution of this paradox by focusing on the overlooked role of seeing. From this perspective institutional conditions are both constitutive of and constituted by an actor's perceptions. Once the individual is seen as a socius, an ego-alter dialectic, understanding the development of the self becomes central to explaining why some actors see one combination of interests-opportunities-resources while others do not, even when embedded in the same institutional matrix. The paper introduces organization scholars to Loevinger's (1976) ego development, a theory and measure of the developmental sequences of the self, and one of the most extensively validated and widely used constructs in the field of psychology. Using ego development I show that actors vary systematically in their ability to perceive conditions which enable institutional change.
Keywords: institutional perception, ego development, institutional entrepreneurship
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