Institutions under a microscope: Experimental methods in institutional theory

Alex Bitektine, Jeffrey W. Lucas, Oliver Schilke

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

26 Scopus citations


Alex Bitektine, Jeffrey W. Lucas, and Oliver Schilke describe the unconventional use of experimental research designs, using fundamental or applied research logics, to develop understanding of institutions in organizational contexts. The advantages and challenges of experimental designs are explored, and examples of experimental research in institutional theory are reviewed, emphasizing their methodological distinctions and the theoretical questions that they address. Institutional theory has traditionally focused on contextual, higher-order factors such as culture, norms, and beliefs, where experimental designs were largely overlooked. The approach advocated here, in contrast, focuses on the micro-foundations of institutions in individual cognition and agency. Practical guidance for researchers who are interested in using experimental designs in institutional theory studies is provided. Promising future directions for experimental research in institutional theory are explored, such as developing multilevel conceptualizations of institutional processes, and improving our understanding of the links between micro-level mechanisms and macro-level effects, and vice versa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationUnconventional Methodology in Organization and Management Research
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9780198796978
StatePublished - Apr 19 2018


  • Experimental research designs
  • Institutional theory
  • Micro-foundations of institutions
  • Unconventional research designs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • General Business, Management and Accounting


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