Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Admin



Committee Chair

John M. Amis

Committee Member

Thomas B. Lawrence

Committee Member

Frances F. Fabian

Committee Member

Peter Wright


While institutional theory constitutes a useful lens to explain how change happens, some of its key concepts, such as power, resources, and fields, are more often assumed than directly investigated. Therefore, the purpose of this dissertation was to examine these three concepts during processes of institutional change and reproduction. I did so by analyzing the dynamics of change in two school systems, Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools, located in Shelby County, Tennessee. These two school systems had been maintained separate from the mid-1850s until 2010 when they began a highly contentious merger process. The first study examined the relationship between resources and change, and the role of rules in this relationship. I identified four rules that need to be effected for change to happen, and showed how these rules form the basis of a processual model of change. In so doing, I was able to expand Giddens’ structuration theory by teasing out the roles played by resources and rules in the production of change, and by showing how resources and rules interact to produce particular outcomes. The second study examined the ways in which fields are structured, and explored the particular dynamics that foster homogeneity and heterogeneity in actors’ behaviors. I found that actors’ understanding of the field varied along six dimensions. These dimensions were interpreted based on the actor’s perceived position in the field. As a result, actors’ reactions to ongoing events varied too. This paper highlights why and how responses to institutional pressures vary across fields. In the third study, I examined the interactions between episodic and systemic power in the production of change, and showed how those interactions relate to actors’ institutional logics. This study suggests that at the intra-organizational meso-level of fields, the ways actors use power are consistent with their espoused institutional logics. However, paradoxically, at the inter-organizational macro-level, actors’ behaviors do not necessarily conform to their logics. This work thus sheds light on the role of power in institutional change, and theorizes a link between power and institutional logics. I further uncovered some micro-processes that allow a new logic to become dominant.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.