Activists and Incumbents Structuring Change: The Interplay of Agency, Culture, and Networks on Field Evolution

Academy of Management Journal, 56 (2): 358-386

Posted: 25 May 2012 Last revised: 1 May 2013

See all articles by Jakomijn van Wijk

Jakomijn van Wijk

Maastricht School of Management (MSM)

Wouter Stam

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Tom Elfring

VU University Amsterdam

Charlene Zietsma

York University - Schulich School of Business

Frank den Hond

VU University Amsterdam

Date Written: May 1, 2013

Abstract

We examine organizational field change instigated by activists. Contrary to existing views emphasizing incumbent resistance, we suggest that collaboration between incumbents and challenger movements may emerge when a movement's cultural and relational fabric becomes moderately structured, creating threats and market opportunities but remaining permeable to external influence. We also elucidate how lead incumbents' attempts at movement cooptation may be deflected through distributed brokerage. The resulting confluence of cultural and relational “structuration” between movement and field accelerates the pace but dilutes the radicalness of institutional innovation, ensuring ongoing, incremental field change. Overall, this article contributes to the emergent literature on field dynamics by uncovering the evolution and outcomes of collaborative work at the intersection of social movements and incumbent fields.

Keywords: organizational field, social movements, institutional change, collective action, collaboration, network dynamics, structuration

Suggested Citation

van Wijk, Jakomijn and Stam, Wouter and Elfring, Tom and Zietsma, Charlene and den Hond, Frank, Activists and Incumbents Structuring Change: The Interplay of Agency, Culture, and Networks on Field Evolution (May 1, 2013). Academy of Management Journal, 56 (2): 358-386, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2065995

Jakomijn Van Wijk (Contact Author)

Maastricht School of Management (MSM) ( email )

Endepolsdomein 150
Maastricht, Limburg 6201 BE
Netherlands

Wouter Stam

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology ( email )

Clear Water Bay
Hong Kong, -
Hong Kong

Tom Elfring

VU University Amsterdam ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, ND North Holland 1081 HV
Netherlands

Charlene Zietsma

York University - Schulich School of Business ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Room N317, Seymour Schulich Building
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada
4167362100 ext 77919 (Phone)

Frank Den Hond

VU University Amsterdam ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, ND North Holland 1081 HV
Netherlands

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