They widened the definition of institutions, including, for example, socially constructed norms and rules (Meyer and Scott 1983), symbols, cognitive scripts, morals and culture (Hall and Taylor 1996, pp. 947-948). By adopting
65 this wider perspective of institutions, SI frameworks, theories and models aim to capture the complexity of decision-making and change processes. SI is typically based on the social construction epistemological assumption that there is no single view of reality and that social science, therefore, has to be interpretive (Mannheim 1936). Reality, including problems or groups, is politically and socially constructed (Kuhn 1970; Rochefort and Cobb 1994). How institutions originate or change in SI is explained through a legitimisation process (also referred to as ‘logic of appropriateness’ or ‘social appropriateness’). Legitimacy of an institution is a precondition for its survival. It needs to be “valued within a broader cultural environment” (Hall and Taylor 1996, p. 949). The relationship between institutions/structures and actors is explained by a two-way process. Actors are influenced by, but can also influence normative institutions by reflecting and approaching issues in a cognitive manner. This is where the social constructivist epistemological perspective is most evident and actors are provided with a higher level of agency than in RI or HI. Actors in SI are or can be purposive, goal-oriented or rational. SI researchers claim, however, that all these drivers are socially constructed. SI theories applied in politics and public policy research have developed organisational research and societal research. Meyer and Scott (1983) in the “societal sector” and DiMaggio and Powell (1983) in the “organizational field”, are commonly cited as the seminal authors of new institutional theory in organisational research. Mayer and Scott’s work was influenced by public policy research and community ecologists (Scott 2007). Hence, there is significant overlap in their understanding of change processes and SI public policy change literature. In DiMaggio and Powell’s organisational perspective, the objective of institutions is to survive. This happens via a process of
66 isomorphism or the adoption of the new institution by a growing number of entities that ensure its survival. Isomorphism occurs because of three forces, which are of coercive, normative or mimetic nature. This social organisational perspective of institutional theory has been widely applied in studies investigating financial accounting change. No study has specifically considered agenda setting and they are, therefore, not further reviewed here. SI researchers consider the motivations of actors from three main perspectives (Amenta and Ramsey 2010). In one view, actors seek legitimacy through status organizations or peers they perceive to be more legitimate (DiMaggio and Powell 1983; Hood 2005). In a second view, actors are motivated by substantive (cognitive and normative) policy concerns (Schmidt 2008) but are ambiguous in their preferences and the desired goals
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