Beyond red tape and fools:Institutional theory in entrepreneruship research 1992-2014
Journal article, 2017

Institutional theory has become an increasingly common lens in entrepreneurship research. Over the past years, the number of entrepreneurship studies that adopt institutional perspective (EIn research) has grown dramatically. This review systematically examines extant EIn research, analyzing 194 articles published in 11 leading journals from 1992-2014. In this review we focus on three characteristics of the articles, -institutional logic, level of analysis and methodology. Further, we identify three distinct periods of EIn research: the conceptual phase, 1992-2000, the exploration phase 2001-2007 and the acceptance phase 2008-2014. This allows us to provide detailed discussion on main characteristics of the articles and identify evolutionary trends of this research area. The overall surge of articles with institutional approaches in entrepreneurship research is promising. We can see an increasing variation of methods being applied and an increasing mutual interest between entrepreneurship and institutional theory researchers. Yet, we find substantial biases and omissions in the application of EIn. There is a focus of EIn research on national level analysis with assuming state and market logics. For EIn to move forward it has to move closer to field/industry level analysis and add new insights into entrepreneurship and alternative logics. Based on our framework and additional insights gained from the review, we outline directions for future EIn research.





Transition Economies

Nascent Entrepreneurs






Su Jing

Shanghai Finance University

Zhai Qinghua

East China Normal University

Tomas Karlsson

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Entrepreneurship and Strategy

Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice

1042-2587 (ISSN)

Vol. 41 4 505-531

Driving Forces

Innovation and entrepreneurship

Subject Categories

Business Administration



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