PDW-11: Experimental Research in Institutional Theory: Opportunities and Challenges

Alexandre B. Bitektine
HEC Montréal, Canada
Patrick Haack
University of Zurich, Switzerland
Lynne Zucker
University of California, USA

Call for Applications



The overall purpose of this pre-Colloquium Paper Development Workshop (PDW) is to facilitate a conversation on the role of experiments in the development of institutional theory. Experiments may complement the methodological toolkit available to institutional theorists and contribute to better explicate the assumptions on which institutional theory research is based. Furthermore, experiments enable scholars to more rigorously test the fundamental propositions and conditions specified in institutional theory, especially at the micro-level of analysis. Experiments may thus add to the integration of psychological and social-constructionist viewpoints within an ideational paradigm that will open the "black box" of institutional processes (Zucker, 1991, p. 104).

Although scholars have frequently encouraged applying experiments to scrutinize institutional dynamics (see e.g. Meyer & Rowan, 1977 on decoupling), this recommendation has been rarely implemented. The reluctance to engage actively with experimental methods is possibly due to a lack of training and familiarity with experiments among institutional theorists. Therefore, the workshop seeks to address this issue by familiarizing participants with experimental methods.

This PDW will follow a tripartite format, involving (1) opening remarks by Lynne Zucker, (2) an expert panel discussing opportunities and challenges of experimental research in institutional theory, and (3) a project development workshop.


The workshop will take place on Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 09:00am–14:00pm.






All scholars interested in institutional theory are invited to apply. However, preference will be given to PhD students/early career scholars. To be considered as an early-career scholar, the applicant needs to have completed his/her doctoral/PhD thesis within the last three years.


Please submit – via the EGOS website! – a single document of application (.doc, .docx or .pdf file) that includes:

  • On the first page: a short letter of application containing full details of name, address (postal address, phone and email), affiliation (date of PhD completion for early career scholars), and a statement of why you consider it valuable to attend this PDW;
  • A CV;
  • A two-page proposal of the project idea outlining the research question and its relevance. The proposal should also motivate why an experiment is needed to answer the research question and specify the dependent and independent variable(s) in the experiment. Please note: the experiments can be carried out after the PDW. The purpose of the Round Table sessions in this PDW is to discuss project ideas, not fully developed papers.



Meyer, J.W. & B. Rowan (1977): "Institutionalized organizations: Formal structure as myth and ceremony." American Journal of Sociology, 83, pp. 340–363.
Zucker, L. (1991): "Postscript: The role of institutionalization in cultural persistence." In W.W. Powell & P.J. DiMaggio (eds.): The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 103–107.


Alexandre B. Bitektine is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Management at HEC Montréal, Canada. His research interests include social judgments, institutional theory, strategic management and non-market strategies, as well as application of experimental methods in organizational research. He currently serves as a member of editorial review boards of the 'Academy of Management Review' and the 'Journal of Management Studies'.
Patrick Haack is a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Business Administration of the University of Zurich, Switzerland. His specific research interests include the cognitive and communicative mechanisms underlying legitimacy in transnational governance, the international diffusion of corporate responsibility practices and recent developments in research methodology, especially the application of experiments and quasi-experiments to the study of institutionalization and legitimation. Patrick's dissertation work has been published in 'Organization Studies' and is forthcoming in the 'Journal of Management Studies'.
Lynne Zucker is Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at the University of California (UCLA), USA, and Director of the Center for International Science, Technology, and Cultural Policy at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Concurrently, she holds appointments as Research Associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research and Fellow of the California Council on Science and Technology. Her current research, joint with Michael Darby, is on academic science and high-technology industries.