When Institutional Work Backfires: Organizational Control of Professional Work in the Pharmaceutical Industry



Journal of Management Studies, Special Issue Professions and Institutions, 5 ed., vol. 50, pp. 900-929, October (4th Quarter/Autumn) 2013


This paper develops a Logics-Roles-Action framework to examine how organizations may internalize pluralistic logics, institutionalize distinct roles embedded in these logics, and script role enactment plans to direct professional work. Using this framework, we empirically explore managed professional work in the pharmaceutical industry. We find evidence of four distinct organizational strategies to script role enactments of sales professionals in their interactions with physicians. Each strategy is intended to reaffirm prevailing institutional logics, but eventually disrupts the very institutional structures that it seeks to maintain and replicate. We show that this disruptive effect is mediated by changes in the social knowledge of professional work. We close with theoretical and managerial implications for managed professional work and institutional change.

Jagdip Singh