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Thursday, April 29 and Friday, April 30, 2010, Radisson University Hotel, Minneapolis, MN
Social Movements for a Green Economy:
Panel on Institutional Theory and Innovation
Andy Van de Ven & Joel Malen
Carlson School of Management
University of Minnesota
Out on
Actors at
Institutional Diffusion
Collective Action
•Reproduction, diffusion or decline
of an institutional arrangement in a
population or organizational field
•Evolutionary processes of variation,
selection, and retention (isomorphism)
•Organizational institutional
ecology literature
•Political action among distributed,
partisan & embedded actors to solve a
problem or issue by changing
institutional arrangements
•Framing processes, mobilizing
structures & political opportunities
•Social movements & industry
emergence literature
Institutional Adaptation
In on
•Organizational efforts to achieve
legitimacy by adapting to institutional
environmental pressures & regulations
•Coercive, normative & mimetic
•New organizational institutional
Institutional Design
•Purposeful social construction &
strategies by an actor to create/change
an institution to solve a problem
or correct an injustice
•Bounded agency: Affordance and
partisan mutual adjustment
•Old institutional literature
Mode of Change
Models of Institutional Change
Source: Hargrave & Van de Ven, 2004
Collective Action Model: Social Movement
Political Opportunities Structure
Institutional Arrangements
-How/where institutional infrastructure
facilitates & constrains change
Framing Processes
-social construction of ideas,
issues, concerns, ideology
Collective Action
-emergent action & form
-partisan mutual adjustment
-political tactics & campaigns
Mobilizing Structures
Institutional Actors & Resources
-groups, organizations, networks
-entrepreneurs, activists, insurgents
Doug McAdam, John McCarthy, and Mayer Zald (eds.), Comparative Perspectives on Social Movements:
Political Opportunities, Mobilizing Structures and Cultural Framings, NY: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996
Collective Action: Social Movement on Electricity Feed-in
Political Opportunity Structures
•Dominant utilities prevent change through market
•RE advocates pursue political change
Collective Action/
Political Behavior
Framing Processes
•RE alternative to fossil fuels (fight climate change)
•RE alternative to dangerous nuclear energy
•RE minimizes negative social externalities
• Issue Awareness
against nuclear/climate change
•Electoral support for prorenewable candidates/parties
•Promote new ideas to
facilitate/support RE diffusion
Mobilization Structures
•Environmental Groups:
• Friends of the Earth Germany, Greenpeace
•Professional Organizations:
•Institute of Ecology; German Assn for Promotion of Solar Power
Eurosolar, Solar Energy Industries Association
Collective Action: Dialectics of Electricity Feed-in Law (1990)
Thesis (RE Opposition)
support for coal and
nuclear electricity generation
• No support to immature energy
•Electricity Feed-in
Law adopted (1990)
• Government
Anti-Thesis (RE Support)
•Government support for
renewable energy generation
•Feed-in law to provide grid access
and favorable rates to producers
Power (RE Opposition)
•Utilities focused on newly integrated
East Germany
•Do not view small scale of legislative
proposals as significant threat
•Despite overall power within German
POS, fail wield their power in conflict
adapted from Hargrave and Van de Ven (2006)
• German federal
legislature debates
proposed Feed-in
•Utilities must provide
grid access to RE
• Utilities must
purchase electricity
from RE producers
•Rates based on
percentage of retail
Power (RE Support)
•RE supporters have substantial power in
legislature it conflict
•Political support for Feed-in Law from
parties across political spectrum
Participants are Distributed, Partisan &
 Distributed: Different actors play key roles
 No single actor controls any developmental path
 Partisan: Actors participate from own frames
 Interests of producers, regulators, investors, etc.
are not the same
 Solutions through partisan mutual adjustment
 Embedded: Actors become dependent on paths
they create.
 Many learning opportunities occur as process
 Process of partial cumulative syntheses
 If social movement, pay attention to:
o Political structure, mobilizing actors & framing processes
o Collective action: conflict, power & political tactics
o Dialectics of thesis, antithesis & synthesis
 Politically-savvy innovators will outperform technicallysavvy innovators.
o Technical savvy is necessary but not sufficient;
also need political savvy
 Innovators who “run in packs” will be more successful
than those that go it alone.
o the liability of unconnectedness (Baum & Oliver, 1992)
Technical & Institutional Changes
Resemble Social-Political Movements