Sub-theme 35: [hybrid] Institutional Microdynamics: The Roles of Emotions, Values, and Evaluation

Gry Espedal
VID Specialized University, Norway
Jose Bento da Silva
Warwick University Business School, United Kingdom
W.E. Douglas Creed
University of Rhode Island, USA

Call for Papers

Hybrid sub-theme!
For further information on hybrid sub-themes, please click here.

Our aim with this sub-theme is to strengthen the quality and coherence of research on the micro-dynamics of institutions by highlighting the roles of values and emotions in shaping how people evaluate social arrangements and participate in institutional processes. In brief, work on emotions and values has highlighted the dynamic and processual (Askeland et al., 2020; Espedal & Carlsen 2021; Gehman et al., 2013; Kraatz et al., 2020; Vaccaro & Palazzo, 2015; Wright et al., 2017; Wright et al., 2021). Emotions often appear in this work as integral to social life and as the “glue binding people together” (Fan & Zietsma 2017; Zietsma et al., 2019; Zietsma & Toubiana 2018). In addition, emotions are understood as structured by norms, practices, beliefs, and values.
In this sub-theme we seek to extend our understanding of the interconnected roles of emotions, values, and evaluation processes. As a point of departure, we embrace the view of an institution as a ‘complex whole that guides and sustains individual identity’ (Bellah et al., 1991: 40), at the centre of which are ‘individual and collective patterns of activity’ performed by ‘aspirational actors who are accountable and responsible to others’ (Creed et al., 2020: 58).
Increasingly, thinking on institutional microdynamics attends to the role of values, evaluation, and human aspirations in animating action (Friedland, 2018; Lawrence et al., 2013; Lawrence & Suddaby, 2006; Lawrence et al., 2009; Schatzki, 2001; Selznick, 1957/1983). Because people use values ‘to judge the world, each other, and themselves (Kraatz et al., 2020: 477; Hirsch & Lounsbury, 1997), evaluation offers ‘a sort of bridge’ [ibid.] between what is and what ought to be (Selznick, 1992). Arguably, it is that gap that underpins people’s participation in institutional processes (Creed et al., 2020). However, much more importantly, we argue, attention to values and evaluation can help us understand the existential concerns – the joys and sorrows, the hopes and fears – that suffuse the work of sustaining or challenging institutional arrangements. Through this sub-theme, we hope to frame a language, currently emergent but underdeveloped in organizational institutionalism (see Bento da Silva & Quattrone, 2021), capable of doing justice to the implications of human embodiment and existential concerns for participation in institutional processes.
Without limiting the scope of questions, we hope to see submissions that address such questions as:

  • How do the emotions stemming from embodied concerns affect participation in processes of institutional maintenance, change, or renewal, particularly during periods of disruption?

  • What kind of institutional processes emerge when people implicitly or explicitly bring embodied experiences and their ‘world of concern’ into the dynamic (Creed et al., 2020)?

  • During a period of disruption and/or institutional erosion, what is the nature of values work (Gehman et al., 2013; Wright et al., 2021) in preserving or transforming social arrangements? What is the mix of emotions, values, concerns and evaluation that in concert animate the institutional work of rebuilding or transforming humane social systems?

  • How can we better understand existential concerns as animating forces in institutional processes? Such concerns might include threats to wellbeing, the (in)capacity to cope with disruption and uncertainty, or the aspirations to create and sustain the conditions for wellbeing (Creed et al., 2020).

  • What are the roles of anxieties over grand challenges or of a shared crisis of imagination in fruitless processes of institutional renewal or transformation? What might be the role of hope in such situations?

  • What are the roles of confidence, trust, and mutuality in institutional experimentation and innovation?

  • How do values, emotions, and/or evaluation play a role in creating reflexive institutions capable of transforming entrenched and unsustainable socio-economic practices?

  • How do emotions such as resentment and fear or (anti)democratic ideals shape the evaluation of what is at stake when heretofore valued institutions are potentially subverted?

We invite colleagues to contribute to this endeavour with conceptual work, empirical studies, and methodological reflections.


  • Askeland, H., Espedal, G., Løvaas, B.J., & Sirris, S. (2020): “Understanding Values Work in Organisations and Leadership.” In: H. Askeland, G. Espedal, B. Jelstad Løvaas & S. Sirris (eds.): Understanding Values Work. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 1–12.
  • Bellah, R.N., Madsen, R., Sullivan, W.M., Swidler, A., & Tipton, S. (1991): The Good Society. New York: Knopf.
  • Bento de Silva, J., & Quattrone, P. (2021): “Mystery-driven institutionalism: the Jesuit Spiritual Exercises as a book of practices leading nowhere.” Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 71, 145–164.
  • Creed, W.D., Hudson, B.A., Okhuysen, G.A., & Smith-Crowe, K. (2020): “A place in the world: Vulnerability, wellbeing, and the ubiquitous evaluation that animates participation in institutional processes.” Academy of Management Review, in press,
  • Espedal, G., & Carlsen, A. (2021): “Don’t Pass Them By: Figuring the Sacred in Organizational Values Work.” Journal of Business Ethics, 169 (4), 767–784.
  • Fan, G.H., & Zietsma, C. (2017): “Constructing a shared governance logic: The role of emotions in enabling dually embedded agency.” Academy of Management Journal, 60 (6), 2321–2351.
  • Friedland, R. (2018): “Moving institutional logics forward: Emotion and meaningful material practice.” Organization Studies, 39 (4), 515–542.
  • Gehman, J., Trevino, L.K., & Garud, R. (2013): “Values work: A process study of the emergence and performance of organizational values practices.” Academy of Management Journal, 56 (1), 84–112.
  • Hirsch, P.M., & Lounsbury, M. (1997): “Ending the family quarrel: Toward a reconciliation of ‘old’ and ‘new’ institutionalisms.” American Behavioral Scientist, 40 (4), 406–418.
  • Kraatz, M.S., Flores, R., & Chandler, D. (2020): “The value of values for institutional analysis.” Academy of Management Annals, 14 (2), 474–512.
  • Lawrence, T.B., Leca, B., & Zilber, T.B. (2013): “Institutional work: Current research, new directions and overlooked issues.” Organization Studies, 34 (8), 1023–1033.
  • Lawrence, T.B., & Suddaby, R. (2006): “Institutions and institutional work.” In: S.R. Clegg, C. Hardy, T.B. Lawrence, & W.R. Nord (eds.): The SAGE Handbook of Organization Studies. London: SAGE Publications, 215–254.
  • Lawrence, T.B., Suddaby, R., & Leca, B. (2009): Institutional Work: Actors and Agency in Institutional Studies of Organizations. Cambrigde: Cambridge University Press.
  • Schatzki, T.R. (2001): “Introduction: Practice theory.” In: T.R. Schatzki, K.K. Cetina, & E. von Savigny (eds.): The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory. New York: Routledge, 1–15.
  • Selznick, P. (1957/1983): Leadership in Administration. A Sociological Interpretation. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Selznick, P. (1992): The Moral Commonwealth: Social Theory and the Promise of Community. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Vaccaro, A., & Palazzo, G. (2015): “Values against violence: Institutional change in societies dominated by organized crime.” Academy of Management Journal, 58 (4), 1075–1101.
  • Wright, A.L., Irving, G., & Selvan Thevatas, K. (2021): “Professional values and managerialist practices: Values work by nurses in the emergency department.” Organization Studies, 42 (9), 1435–1456.
  • Wright, A.L., Zammuto, R.F., & Liesch, P.W. (2017): “Maintaining the values of a profession: Institutional work and moral emotions in the emergency department.” Academy of Management Journal, 60 (1), 200–237.
  • Zietsma, C., & Toubiana, M. (2018): “The valuable, the constitutive, and the energetic: Exploring the impact and importance of studying emotions and institutions.” Organization Studies, 39 (4), 427–443.
  • Zietsma, C., Toubiana, M., Voronov, M., & Roberts, A. (2019): Emotions in Organization Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gry Espedal is an Associate Professor at VID Specialized University, Oslo, Norway. Her research falls within organization theory, institutional theory, and sociology of religion. She has published articles on a national and international level on institutionalizing values work, the emergence of institutional logics, and the connection between stories, practice, values, and emotions. Gry is the editor and author of several books within fields such as values-based leadership, authentic leadership, appreciative leadership, coaching, and solution-focused approach.
Jose Bento da Silva is an Assistant Professor at Warwick University Business School, UK. His research focuses on how ambiguity, mystery, temporality, the ineffable, and categories deemed ‘irrational’ can foster our understanding of social and institutional order(ing). This theoretical interest has driven Jose’s historical and ethnographic research on large scale religious and social organizations.
W.E. Douglas Creed is Professor of Management at the University of Rhode Island, USA, and Professorial Fellow at the Department of Management and Marketing, The University of Melbourne, Australia. His work focuses on the role of identity and embodiment in inhabited institutional processes and the micro-politics of contested institutional change.