Benefiting from Institutional Complexity: How Organizations Engage with Minority Logics
Paper in proceedings, 2015
Institutional complexity – being simultaneously exposed to multiple institutional logics – is commonly perceived as a challenge for organizations. We argue that, contrary to this assumption, complexity also represents an opportunity for organizations to accrue benefits and hence they may strategically expose themselves to institutional complexity. Using an inductive study of university-industry research centers, we illustrate how research universities obtained benefits by embracing a minority logic (the commercial logic) while remaining committed to their dominant logic (the academic logic). This was achieved by creating special boundary spaces where institutional complexity was carefully managed. We find that minority logic engagement occurs via three mechanisms: (a) logics leveraging whereby dominant logic practices are used to achieve minority logic objectives; (b) creating a minority logic capability confined to a boundary space; and (c) managing compatibility with the dominant logic through the maintenance of a dominant logic representation in the boundary space. Throughout this process, the presence of hybrid leaders who are steeped in both logics is vital as they put the above mechanisms in place and maintain them over time.