Broken Rules and Constrained Confusion: Toward a Theory of Meso-Institutions

Scott Droege, Nancy Brown Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Meso-institutions are weak, intermediate forms of institutions that bridge the gap between institutional disintegration. and the development of new, more firmly established institutions. Meso-institutions lack the stronger behaviour-guiding signs and symbols of more established institutions, but instead contain fragments of former institutions mixed with emerging, but fragile, components of developing institutions. Institutional disintegration leads to a disorienting period characterized by the dissolution of fundamental, widely held ideologies. This offers an opportunity for actions rather than institutions to guide actions. Because meso-institutions are weak, only after actions are repeated will they solidify into specific patterns that may be retrospectively granted legitimacy. Using archival data supplemented by interviews, we identified three meso-institutional occurrences with the phenomenologically based manifestations of fractured ideology, actions as rules and retrospective legitimization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-104
Number of pages24
JournalManagement and Organization Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2007


  • KEYWORDS China
  • institutional theory
  • transformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management


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