From Institutional Entrepreneurship to Institutional Work: The World Bank in Ghana, 1957-1985

Danford Room, 2nd floor, Arts Building (R16 on the campus map)
Wednesday 18 October 2017 (16:30-18:30)

This paper offers a historical case study of institutional entrepreneurship and institutional work in Africa.

Our empirical interest is in analyzing the evolution of western economic development strategies in Ghana from 1950 to 1980. Our theoretical interest is in understanding the role of agency in processes of institutional change. Our historical analysis of development practices in Ghana reveals a distinct shift in its repertoire of agency, beginning with a highly functionalist notion of direct control (i.e. hyper-muscular agency) and ending with a much more distributed and negotiated form of agency. We describe this process as a shift from an early focus on institutional entrepreneurship to a later adoption of the ethos and character of institutional work. Our core theoretical contribution is to elaborate the differences and similarities between these two conceptions of institutional change and offer a conciliatory explanation of how they might fit together.

Stephanie Decker is Professor of Organization Studies and History at Aston Business School in Birmingham, UK, and co-editor of Business History. Her research combines approaches from organization studies and history, and focuses on the history of business in Africa, the uses of the past by organizations, and historical methodology for social sciences. Her work has been published in a range of journals, including Academy of Management Review, Journal of Management Studies, Organization, Business History Review, and Business History.

Speaker: Stephanie Decker (Aston)

Part of the Africa Talks Seminar Series Autumn 2017.

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