Assembling Impact at #ACR19


An Anniversary Knowledge Forum by Samantha Cross and Markus Giesler

Saturday, October 19 2019, 10:30 to 11:45am, Hyatt Regency - Atlanta, Greenbriar

Since the late 1980s, institutional theorists have devoted considerable attention to questions of change and the role of institutional entrepreneurs in driving this change - actors in organizations who are interested in changing fields - their strategies and tactics, and the antecedents and consequences of their actions (e.g., Battilana, Leca, and Boxenbaum 2009; DiMaggio 1988). These researchers argue that institutional entrepreneurs, while they “may not be entrepreneurs in the conventional sense . . . must be regarded as “potential change agents” who often contend with “prevailing institutional logics that both constrain and enable” their activities (Scaraboto and Fischer 2013, 1237). These potential change agents remind us that there are several types of institution-maintaining work to be done to support the field of fashion (Dolbec and Fischer 2015), and we argue, to support the field of consumer research as well.

Institutional Entrepreneurship in Action

Impact Assemblage: The CMO Survey
Institutional Entrepreneur: Christine Moorman

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As ACR marks its Golden Anniversary, we, as scholars, are asked to reflect the continuities and discontinuities in practice that define us institutionally. On the ways in which our collective wisdom has evolved; to acknowledge our past and embrace our future; to appreciate and honor not just our accumulated past wisdom, but to encourage our ever changing present and our fledgling, often uncertain, futures. “Becoming Wise’ is the theme of this year’s conference and as we think about how to understand, expand and create new wisdom, we also need to think about how to harness the assembled collective impact of our accumulated past, current and future wisdom. Along these lines, our proposed forum is titled “Assembling Impact: Learning from Consumer Research’s Institutional Entrepreneurs. Our starting point is an institutional theory lens, applied to our own field at the time of ACR’s 50-year anniversary.

These enterprising consumer researchers have either created new audiences or reconfigured existing institutional arrangements.

This forum builds on the idea of consumer research as an evolving institutional field, supported, nurtured and propelled over the last 50 years by “an interdisciplinary, cross-method, international association of scholars building knowledge on all aspects of consumers’ thoughts, decisions and behaviors,” according to our ACR 2019 co-chairs. Our proposed knowledge panel will gather consumer researchers who, in addition to being productive scholars in the classic “institutional-maintaining” sense (Fligstein 1997), have acted as institutional entrepreneurs, thereby bringing new impulses and values to thefield of consumer research despite ongoing pressures towards stasis (Holm 1995; Seo and Creed 2002). These institutionally enterprising consumer researchers may have either created new audiences or reconfigured existing institutional arrangements. They may have produced novel and unexpected institutional partnerships or extended or created new consumer research subfields. Or they may have leveraged emerging technologies and resources to produce and disseminate their theoretical knowledge.

Institutional Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurial Actions and Value Outcomes


As part of the forum, we will debate which sociological and institutional theory concepts and frameworks are most appropriate for understanding and addressing the role of institutional entrepreneurs on the creation of impact. We will ask participating consumer researchers to (1) recall their personal motivations for engaging in practices of institutional entrepreneurship, (2) elaborate on how they have balanced between invariably competing traditional and novel practices and institutional logics, (3) linked consumer research findings to new modes of knowledge creation and distribution, and (4) explicate both the benefits and costs of institutional entrepreneurship in academic status games. We will focus on the development of institutional structures such as the creation of research centers and think tanks for managerial audiences and policy makers, institutional partnerships with other organizations such as funding agencies, media journalists, and non-for-profit organizations, and the opportunities and risks of technology in driving desired and undesired institutional change (e.g., MOOCs, blogs, etc.). 

As part of the forum, we will debate which sociological and institutional theory concepts are most appropriate for understanding and addressing the role of institutional entrepreneurs on the creation of impact.

Our proposed knowledge panel will be of interest to ACR members of all major perspectives and at all career stages in consumer research. It should be of particular interest to consumer researchers interested in leveraging social media technology and early-career researchers interested in overcoming institutional isolation, or what Belkhir et al. (2018) have recently described as “an involuntary perceived separation from the academic field to which one aspires to belong, associated with a perceived lack of agency in terms of one’s engagement with the field.”We also expect that, as competition among schools is becoming tougher and ever more globalized (Ryazanova and McNamara 2016), the need to co-create with other vested parties outside ofmarketing departments, to assemble and disseminate consumer-research knowledge will become increasinglyrelevant to building and legitimizing our collective wisdom. 

We have structured our knowledge forum in ways that should maximize inclusion of (and interaction among) researchers from various research traditions and career stages. We will begin with a brief introduction of our session goals and institutional entrepreneurship model. After that, our doctoral student moderators will conduct brief 3 to 5-minute interviews with each member of our “expert” panel of institutionally enterprising consumer researchers to showcase existing institutional activities. This will be followed by a 20-30 minutes workshop roundtable discussion. In this portion of our proposed forum, we would like to address three important questions: (1) how, and through what distinct practices and processes, is consumer research structured as an institutional field to date; (2) what are key emerging styles of institutional entrepreneurship in consumer research to be developed and embraced and what are the explicit benefits and risks at what career stage vis-à-vis the existing institutional landscape; and (3) which technologies and other resources are available to consumer researchers seeking to engage in successful institutional entrepreneurship. The forum will conclude with a distillation of useful future research themes as well as an overarching summary on key takeaways by the co-chairs.

Knowledge Session Structure and Teams


In the months leading up to the ACR conference, the co-chairs will engage in an iterative theory building process around institutional entrepreneurship with expert participants. We will interview participants via Skype and over the phone to distill key elements for a conceptual model of institutional entrepreneurship in consumer research that we will make accessible to all session participants at the conference. The findings from this preparational exercise and the resulting roadmap model will also help structure our introductory remarks, panel questions, and workshop discussion. We expect that our proposed knowledge panel will inform and inspire consumer researchers of all stripes and at all career stages, specifically members of younger cohorts who will be tasked with making research contributions in an ever more global, dynamic, competitive, and often also resource-deprived business school environment.

Institutional Entrepreneurship in Action

Impact Assemblage: Crossing Race and Markets
Institutional Entrepreneur: Sonya A. Grier et al.

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Darren Dahl (University of British Columbia), Sonya Grier (American University), Punam Anand Keller (Dartmouth), Chris Moorman (Duke), Connie Pechmann (University of California, Irvine), Americus Reed (Wharton), Cinthia Santornino (University of Connecticut), Maura Scott (Florida State University), Ela Veresiu (Big Design Lab), Madhu Viswanathan (UIUC), Michelle Weinberger (Northwestern University)


Samantha Cross (Iowa State University) and Markus Giesler (Big Design Lab)


Battilana, Julie, Bernard Leca, and Eva Boxenbaum (2009), “How Actors Change Institutions: Towards a Theory of Institutional Entrepreneurship,” Academy of Management Annals, 3 (1), 65–107.

Belkhir, Meriam, Myriam Brouard, Katja H Brunk, Marlon Dalmoro, Marcia Christina Ferreira, 

Bernardo Figueiredo, Aimee Huff, Daiane Scaraboto, Olivier Sibai and Andrew N. Smith (2018), “Isolation in Globalizing Academic Fields: A Collaborative Autoethnography of Early Career Researchers,” Academy of Management Learning & Education. 

DiMaggio, Paul J. (1988), “Interest and Agency in Institutional Theory,” in Institutional Patterns and Organizations, ed. Lynne G. Zucker, Cambridge, MA: Ballinger, 3–22. 

Dolbec, Pierre-Yann and Eileen Fischer (2015), “Refashioning a Field? Connected Consumers and Institutional Dynamics in Markets,” Journal of Consumer research, 41(6), 1447–68.

Fligstein, Neil (1997), “Social Skill and Institutional Theory,” American Behavioral Scientist, 40 (4), 397–405.

Holm, Petter (1995), “The dynamics of institutionalism: Transformation processes in Norwegian fisheries,” Administrative Science Quarterly,40, 398–422. 

Ryazanova, Olga and Peter McNamara (2016), “Socialization and Pro-active Behavior: Multi-level Exploration of Research Productivity Drivers in the US Business Schools,” Academy of Management Learning & Education, 15 (3),52548. 

Scaraboto, Daiane and Eileen Fischer (2013), “Frustrated Fatshionistas: An Institutional Theory Perspective on Consumer Quests for Greater Choice in Mainstream Markets” Journal of Consumer Research,39 (6), 1234–57.

Seo, Myeong-Gu and Douglas W. E. Creed (2002), “Institutional Contradictions, Praxis, and Institutional Change: A Dialectical Perspective,” Academy of Management Review, 27 (2), 222–47. 

Markus Giesler

Markus Giesler draws on concepts from economics, technology studies, and sociology to inform his research in marketing. He determines how ideas and things (products, services, experiences, technological innovations, intellectual property, brands, etc.) are made valuable over time, with research focused on improving marketing strategy through an understanding of markets as evolving social systems. Giesler's research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the European Research Council (ERC) and published in top-tier academic journals such as the Journal of Consumer Research and the Journal of Marketing. Giesler has an extensive entertainment industry background. He founded his own record label at age 17 and has worked in various production and marketing responsibilities for over a decade. He lives in Toronto, Canada.