Amnesty in Translation : Ideas, Interests and Organizational Change

Detta är en avhandling från Stockholm : Företagsekonomiska institutionen

Sammanfattning: Swedish Amnesty was founded in 1964 for the purpose of working for the release of prisoners of conscience. Forty years later the organization has expanded its realm of activity to include ideas such as women’s rights, homosexuals’ rights and corporate responsibility for human rights. When these ideas were first introduced, they challenged prevailing assumptions about what the organization should be concerned with. Adopting a longitudinal approach, this dissertation investigates how these three ideas have been transformed from organizational anomalies into organizational practices. This study contributes to organizational institutional theory in general, and the translation of ideas in particular. The study shows that the translation of ideas in an organization is characterized more by conflicting interests and power relationships than previous research in the area has suggested. Four different editing strategies through which ideas were translated into practice could be seen: assimilation, colonization, creolization, and loose coupling. The processes were driven by institutional entrepreneurs who had a personal interest in the ideas and who saw the organization as a tool for promoting their development in society. The entrepreneurs were primarily new members who were shaped more by their historical life trajectories than by the organizational context into which they had entered. The study shows that the institutionalization of ideas about new practices is an incremental process in which ideas are translated into the organization in piecemeal versions. It suggests that institutionalization is an ongoing process in which the practice changes continuously. At the same time this process is also characterized by a certain amount of stability. New practices blend elements of old ones. Finally, this study has shown that organizational identities and interests are not antecedents of action, but rather are something emerging in the translation process.

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