Coming Back and Giving Back: Transposition, Institutional Actors, and the Paradox of Peripheral Influence
Administrative Science Quarterly, Forthcoming
86 Pages Posted:
Date Written: March 22, 2020
This paper explores transposition as a mechanism for institutional change and studies the conditions under which institutional actors successfully undertake transposition. Prior work on transposition has emphasized the paradox of embedded agency; we complement this work by arguing that transposition is also subject to a paradox of peripheral influence. We suggest that these dual paradoxes can be overcome by actors who simultaneously have exposure to alternative institutional environments, and are sufficiently embedded in the focal field, allowing them both to see the potential of new ideas and navigate their implementation successfully. We identify returnees from abroad as one such type of actor and use data on publicly listed Chinese companies from 2000 to 2012 to show the presence of returnees with relevant exposure on the corporate board significantly raises firms’ donations, even after we account for the endogeneity of having returnees on the board. Consistent with our twin mechanisms, we show the effect of returnees is stronger, the greater exposure and embeddedness they or their partners on the board may have, and the more the field conditions present the need for exposure and embeddedness. We discuss implications for the literature on institutional change and corporate social responsibility.
Keywords: institutional change, embedded agency, transposition, institutional actors, corporate charitable donation, return migration, emerging markets
JEL Classification: M14, D22, F22, J6
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