THE WALTZ OF THE FLOWERS: HOW MATERIAL DEVICES BUTTRESS THE FORMATION OF ORGANIZATIONAL FIELDS
BIRTHE SOPPE, UNIVERSITY OF OSLO
(CO-AUTHOR; NADINE ARNOLD, UNIVERSITY OF LUCERNE)
In this paper, we turn attention to the micro-processes of field formation, that is, the underlying and less obvious dynamics that lead disparate actors to interact with one another and start to initiate field-formation processes. In particular, we analyze the role of material devices in underpinning field formation processes. Since prior research has only paid scant attention to the material micro underpinnings of organizational field formation, we build on and integrate three streams of literature that take up the role of material devices; economic sociology, science and technology studies, and the sociology of formality. Our empirical setting is the emergence of the field of fair trade flowers in Switzerland (1995-2005). Reporting an in-depth, longitudinal case study, we identify three mechanisms – the valuing, imbedding, and authorizing mechanisms - that reveal how material devices buttressed the creation of the fair trade flower field. Taken together, these mechanisms address how material devices afforded that organizational actors with disparate interests and motivations became related to one another and developed shared meanings about how to cultivate and trade ethical flowers. The results of our study have important implications for the literatures on organizational fields, materiality, and micro-foundations in institutional theory.
Birthe Soppe is Professor of Business Administration with a focus on Organization at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. She is also affiliated with the University of Oslo, Norway, as Associate Professor. Birthe’s research activities revolve around novel organizational phenomena. She bridges insights from institutional and organization theory as well as economic sociology to enhance the understanding of the fundamental social, institutional, and organizational underpinnings that shape new market fields and novel forms of organizing. Empirically, she often focuses on sustainability-oriented research settings. Her work has been published among others in Organization Studies, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, and Journal of Small Business Management, Social Psychology, and Energy Policy.
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