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Title: An investigation of change in the dominant logic of an organsational field : the case of senior English rugby union
Author: O'Brien, Daniel J.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3451 2619
Awarding Body: De Montfort University
Current Institution: De Montfort University
Date of Award: 2000
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In 1995, the International Rugby Football Board (IRFB) decided to open the formerly amateur game of rugby union to professionalism. This thesis focused on the impact this decision had on the organisational field of senior English rugby union. When the game was declared "open, " the amateur ethos was still heavily institutionalised in the English game. Therefore, amateur values and norms helped establish a mutually constructed world view, or dominant logic, that served to shape the repertoire of strategies chosen by organisational decision-makers. Focusing on the years between 1995 and 1999, the study examined a particularly turbulent period in the English game, as constituents attempted to manage the milieux of pressures caused by the field's shifting dominant logic. The professionalisation of senior English rugby union provided an excellent context to investigate the process by which the heavily institutionalised dominant logic of an organisational field changes. To accomplish this aim, primary data were gathered through 43 semi-structured interviews with key field-level actors. Secondary data were collected from sources such as the clubs' and Rugby Football Union's (RFU) historical documents and promotional material; media releases and Internet websites; newspapers, on-line newspapers, dedicated rugby publications, and broadcast media; and finally, archival material from the RFU Museum at Twickenham in London. Underpinned by the basic tenets of institutional theory, content analysis of these primary and secondary data allowed for a thick description of the change process to emerge. Structured in three main sections, the first part of this thesis showed that change in the field's dominant logic involved profound shifts in its communities of actors, exchangep rocesses,in terorganisational linkages, and regulatory structures.I n addition, extending current institutional accounts of change in organisational fields, it was also found that change in the dominant forms of capital at stake in the field provided another major indicator of a shift in dominant logic. The emergence of the new professional logic created unprecedented uncertainty, but simultaneously, led to increasing homogeneity in the organisational practices of actors throughout the field. This pattern of organisational change, known as institutional isomorphism, resulted when actors' individual efforts to deal rationally with the uncertainty and constraint inherent to the new professional logic, led to similarities in their structure, strategy, culture, and output. In the second part of this study, the mechanisms of institutional isomorphism - coercive, normative and mimetic pressures, were shown to be instrumental in facilitating the diffusion of the field's new professional logic. The initial pattern of diffusion was status-driven, where decision-makers mimicked the strategies implemented by high status competitors. Continued uncertainty rapidly led to a "bandwagon" of strategy diffusion, where clubs, fearing lost legitimacy, mimicked competitors' strategies in a poorly researched and ad hoc manner. This period of uncertainty was characterised by intense competitive pressures and, despite tighter system coupling, a marked reticence among organisations to exchange vital strategic information. As failing organisations were selected out, coercive isomorphic pressures applied by the field's new regulatory structures rose in salience. As a result, actors finally began sharing information of a strategic nature. This increase in the field's multiplexity of ties indicated that the social learning of adaptive responses was taking place. This was seen as a more productive means of strategy diffusion than the status-driven and bandwagon processes that hadearlier taken precedence. It was concluded that the social learning of adaptive responses was integral to the burgeoning maturity of the field. Actors came to agree upon a common purpose - the production of a strong league of clubs, as opposed to the existence of a handful of successful clubs. The third section of the thesis was a case study analysis of one English Premiership rugby union club's strategic response to institutional pressures for professionalisation. Utilising and extending Oliver's (1991) typology of strategic responses to institutional processes, the argument that organisations automatically conform to pressures in their institutional environment was analysed. It was demonstrated that organisational compliance with institutional pressures was by no means automatic. Rather, the organisation's strategic responses were revealed as the products of a protracted political debate among influential stakeholders that evolved over time. It was shown that organisations' strategic responses to institutional pressures might more accurately be viewed as taking place at multiple organisational levels. It was thus suggested that these responses could be viewed as the products of an amalgam of different responses at various organisational levels
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available