Conference 29-30May, 2017 - Bringing Institutional Theory to Marketing

Organizing Committee

Karim Ben Slimane, ISC Paris Business School, France

Damien Chaney, ESC Troyes in Champagne, France

Ashlee Humphreys, Northwestern University, USA

Bernard Leca, ESSEC Business School, France


Despite a growing interest of marketing research for institutional theory (e.g. Humphreys 2010a; Humphreys, 2010b; Scaraboto, and Fischer, 2013; Dolbec and Fischer, 2015; Vargo and Lusch, 2016), many scholars acknowledge that there is still much insight to be gained using an institutional view of market dynamics (Ketchen and Hult, 2011; Chaney and Ben Slimane, 2014).

Institutional theory counts among the most powerful and influential social theories during the four last decades (Greenwood et al., 2008). It is also the most disruptive research endeavor to challenge a number of strong and commonly held assumptions within organization and business studies such as the methodological individualism (free agents) and the dogma of efficiency. Institutional theory originality hinges on a focus on the role of shared and diffused cognitive schemas that shape actors’ behaviors and dictate social forms and practices. Central to institutional theory is to consider legitimacy as an alternative explanation to efficiency (DiMaggio and Powell, 1991). Thus, social practices exist not because they are assessed as the most efficient but rather because they are viewed as the most appropriate by actors in the social and cultural environment (Suchman, 1995). It also raises issues about how actors create, maintain or disrupt established cognitive or practical categories such as markets or consumption practices (Lawrence, Suddaby and Leca 2009).

Recent work using institutional theory in marketing has pointed to insightful avenues through which marketing assumptions can been challenged (Dolbec and Fisher, 2015).   Institutional theory invites marketing scholars to move beyond the micro level consumer-firm dyad and to broaden the scope of marketing analysis to the macro-level of institutions. From this perspective one can understand how consumption practices are embedded in cognitive and cultural schemas socially constructed by a wide array of actors. Consumption occurs when macro institutional conditions that render them possible are established. Here institutional theory points to the role that several players can play in legitimating a given consumption practice.

Therefore companies should not be considered as the unique active agent in markets. Rather, marketing scholars should pay attention to the process through which consumption practices gain and lose legitimacy. In one attempt to nurture and reinvigorate marketing with new institutional analysis, Humphreys (2010a) calls to revisit the concept of megamarketing introduced by Kotler (1986). However, this broader view of marketing remains largely under-explored. Dynamics of consumption practices emergence, maintenance and disruption deserve particular interest from researchers who address the construction process of the macro level conditions of consumption practices to grasp how consumers behave at the micro level.


Chaney, D., & Ben Slimane, K. (2014). A neo-institutional analytic grid for extending marketing to institutional dimensions.. Recherche et Applications en Marketing, 29(2), 99-117.

DiMaggio, P.W.W & Powell, W.W. (Eds.) (1991) The New Institutionalism in Organization Analysis, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Dolbec, P. Y., & Fischer, E. (2015). Refashioning a field? Connected consumers and institutional dynamics in markets. Journal of Consumer Research, 41(6), 1447-1468.

Greenwood, R., Oliver, C., Suddaby, R., & Sahlin-Andersson, K. (Eds.). (2008).The Sage handbook of organizational institutionalism. Sage.

Humphreys, A. (2010a). Megamarketing: The creation of markets as a social process. Journal of Marketing, 74(2), 1-19.

Humphreys, A. (2010b). Semiotic structure and the legitimation of consumption practices: The case of casino gambling. Journal of Consumer Research, 37(3), 490-510.

Ketchen, D. J., & Hult, G. T. M. (2011). Marketing and organization theory: opportunities for synergy. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 39(4), 481-483.

Kotler, P. (1986). Megamarketing. Harvard Business Review, 64(2), 117-124.

Lawrence, T. B., Suddaby, R., & Leca, B. (2009). Institutional work: Actors and agency in institutional studies of organizations. Cambridge university press.

Scaraboto, D., & Fischer, E. (2013). Frustrated fatshionistas: An institutional theory perspective on consumer quests for greater choice in mainstream markets. Journal of Consumer Research, 39(6), 1234-1257.

Suchman, M. C. (1995). Managing legitimacy: Strategic and institutional approaches. Academy of Management Review, 20(3), 571-610.

Vargo, S. L., & Lusch, R. F. (2016). Institutions and axioms: an extension and update of service-dominant logic. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 44(1), 5-23.


Topics we are interested in

 We invite theoretical and empirical works that explores the process of emergence, maintenance and disruption of consumption practices and that acknowledges the variety of roles that actors can play in such institutional dynamics. The potential topics include, but are not limited to:


·                                 How consumption practices emerge at the first place?

·                                 How consumption practices are maintained and continue over time?

·                                 How consumption practices erode and collapse?  

·                                 How do illegitimate consumption practices evolve over time? Why do some illegitimate consumption practices become legitimate whereas others disappear?     

·                                 What is the role of consumers as agents in the shaping of consumption practices at the macro level?

·                                 Beyond the dyad firm-consumer, what is the role of media, critics, technology, and professions in legitimating and delegitimizing consumption practices?

·                                 How do collaborative dynamics among companies legitimate new market products and new consumption practices in emerging industries?


Important dates

15 February 2017                  Submission of short papers (around 3000 words)

5 March 2017                         Notifications of acceptance/rejection

                                                Online registration opens

29-30 May 2017                    The conference at ISC Paris Business School

15 December 2017               Selected papers of the conference will be considered for a                                                          publication of a Special Issue in Journal of Business Research.

                                             Deadline of Submission of full papers to the                                                            Special Issue at Journal of Business Research.