Cultural encounters: A practice-driven institutional approach to the study of organizational culture

Milo Shaoqing Wang, Michael Lounsbury

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations


Narrow, managerially centered notions of organizational culture remain hegemonic, marginalizing richer, anthropological approaches as well as efforts to understand how the beliefs and practices of organizations are fundamentally shaped by the wider societal dynamics within which they are embedded. In this paper, the authors draw upon recent efforts to explore the interface of scholarship on practice and the institutional logics perspective to highlight the utility of a practice-driven institutional approach to the study of organizational culture that brings society back in. Empirically, the authors present a longitudinal case study of a Chinese private enterprise, and analyze how the unfolding dynamics of a strong community logic increasingly affected by a rising market logic, shaped the formation of political coalitions internally and externally as organizational members aimed to maintain truces between the push and pull of logics over a period of 22 years. Through an analysis of seven episodes that we conceptualize as “cultural encounters,” the authors find that a combination of compartmentalization and overall integration of logics contributes to provisional truces, and that people in the same cohort who share common geographic socialization are more likely to form allies. Our aim is to encourage future scholars to study how societal beliefs and practices work their way into organizations in a variety of explicit as well as more mundane, hidden ways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationResearch in the Sociology of Organizations
PublisherEmerald Group Holdings Ltd.
Number of pages34
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameResearch in the Sociology of Organizations
ISSN (Print)0733-558X


  • China
  • Cultural encounter
  • Institutional logic
  • Organizational change
  • Organizational culture
  • Practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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