Community Building as Institutional Entrepreneurship: Exploring the Emergence of a Popular Music Community

Article excerpt


How institutions are created, maintained, shaped, and changed are the central interests of institutional entrepreneurship (Bruton, Ahlstrom, & Li, 2010). Current research on institutional entrepreneurship has investigated the questions of how institutional orders are changed by different types of social actors in industry fields, either in the center of the field or in the periphery (Greenwood & Suddaby, 2006; Greenwood, Suddaby, & Hinings, 2002; Maguire & Hardy, 2009; Maguire, Hardy, & Lawrence, 2004). Wherever the locations of institutional changes are, current research on institutional entrepreneurship has focused on the change of institutional order as the sole outcome of institutional change. In this conception, actors either achieve institutional change or fail to do so and the result of international entrepreneurship is dichotomous.

In reality, there could be a range of results that are associated with the institutional entrepreneurship, including partial change of institutional order (Glynn, 2000), or the creation of a community that cultivates a different set of orders, rules, and values within the community. Yet little is known about how institutional entrepreneurs construct an alternative social order when they build a community in parallel to mature institutions. Do they predominantly engage in changes to undermine the cognitive pillar of the institution, "theorization" to justify a new order (Greenwood, Suddaby et al. 2002), or policing or deterring to reinforce the new order (Lawrence and Suddaby 2006)? This lack of clarity is matched by the uncertainty about how the work of institutional entrepreneurs differs from "institutional followers" and how these behaviors are linked to "institutional work" (Lawrence and Suddaby 2006).

Before we move on, we explain the concept of community used in this paper. Sociologists have studied communities extensively since the early nineteenth century (Tonnies, [1887] 1957; Durkheim [1897] 1951; [1911] 1965). Since then, the idea of community has been accepted as a symbol of safety and familiarity (Brint, 2001). Communities are "aggregates of people who share common activities and/or beliefs and who are bound together principally by relations of affect, loyalty, common values, and/or personal concern (i.e., interest in the personalities and life events of one another)" (Brint, 2001: p8; emphasis in original). They are conceptually different from institutions, which are a pre-existing web of socially constructed, taken-for-granted prescriptions of appropriate behavior (Scott, 2001). Communities and institutions are both governed by cognitive-cultural, normative, and regulative forces but the forces prevailing in them are of a different nature (Marquis, Glynn, & Davis, 2007; Peredo & Chrisman, 2006). Importantly, communities are distinguished from institutions regarding the following two aspects: the extent of formality and the degree of regulation. Compared to institutions, communities are less formal; participants develop a sense of familiarity with one another through frequent social interactions rather than formal role specification. In contrast, institutions tend to orient towards formality and participants/actors tend to occupy specific roles in a pre-established structure. In terms of regulations, while in institutions, "... regulative processes involve the capacity to establish rules, inspect or review others' conformity to them, and, as necessary, manipulate sanctions--rewards or punishments--in an attempt to influence future behavior"(Scott, 2001, p35), the regulative forces in communities are based on interpersonal relationships and lack the coercive power of institutions.

Using qualitative procedures, we explore the creation and emergence of an elective community that is based on choice and activity (Brint, 2001). In contrast to geographic-based communities such as small scale communities of place or neighborhood groups, an elective community such as a fan community of a music group is based on relationship ties bound by choice and activity. …