Field or fields? Building the scaffolding for cumulation of research on institutional fields

Charlene Zietsma, Peter Groenewegen, Danielle M. Logue, C. R. Bob Hinings

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

215 Scopus citations


The concept of an institutional field is one of the cornerstones of institutional theory, and yet the concept has been stretched both theoretically and empirically, making consolidation of findings across multiple studies more difficult. In this article, we review the literature and analyze empirical studies of institutional fields to build scaffolding for the cumulation of research on institutional fields. Our review revealed two types of fields: exchange and issue fields, with three subtypes of each. We describe their characteristics, and subsequently, review field conditions in the extant literature and develop a typology based on two dimensions: the extent of elaboration of institutional infrastructure and the extent to which there is an agreed-upon prioritization of logics. We discuss the implications of field types and conditions for isomorphism, agency, and field change, based on a review of the literature that revealed six pathways of field change and the factors affecting them. We outline a research agenda based on our review highlighting the need for consolidation of field studies and identify several outstanding issues that are in need of further research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-450
Number of pages60
JournalAcademy of Management Annals
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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