[We are pleased to welcome Trish Reay, Editor-in-Chief of Organization Studies.]
In the #OSEditorPicks for August, Behind Smoke and Mirrors: A Political Approach to Decoupling, Anja Kern, Aziza Laguecir, and Bernard Leca respond to calls for more attention to power and politics within institutional theory. They conducted an in-depth study of policy implementation by a Regional Health Authority (RHA) in a French Hospital, and found different patterns of response between surgeons and cardiologists. Surgeons used their sources of power to openly reject the proposed casemix approach. Cardiologists engaged in means/ends decoupling to implement casemix as a way to improve their own interests. Ultimately, the RHA acquiesced to the powerful surgeons and renounced their previous decision to base funding on casemix performance at the clinical level. The authors draw on power dependency theory to explain different types of decoupling that occurred and different ways in which power and politics played out for each group.
I am intrigued with this article for a couple of reasons. First, it is great to see an empirical article that brings power and politics back into institutional theory by revealing important aspects of decoupling. Such an approach is long overdue. Second, this article reminds me of Selznick’s detailed and fascinating account of institutional change in the Tennessee Valley Authority (1949). Kern, Laguecir and Leca tell a similarly captivating story that holds twists and turns, highlighting the ways that people can act in pursuit of their own interests. I believe that this article holds real value, and I encourage people interested in processes of institutional change to read it.
Join the conversation on Twitter with #OSEditorPicks
You can read Behind Smoke and Mirrors: A Political Approach to Decoupling by Anja Kern, Aziza Laguecir, and Bernard Leca free for the next 30 days.