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Exploring Neo-Institutional Theory With Ethnographic Content Analysis

Case
By: Published: 2019 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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Abstract

This case study explores a new method of analyzing an organization’s strategy manifested in its strategic communications, which are intentionally produced documents such as press releases, intra-organizational newsletters, advertising, and many others. It employs ethnographic content analysis, a mixed methods form of research uncommon with the business and management discipline, designed to simultaneously examine documents in a quantitative and qualitative fashion. It leverages a recent transdisciplinary adaption to the traditionally management-focused neo-institutional theory, which has proved that organizations follow predictable patterns of behavior that are both institutionally and culturally prescribed. This theoretical adaptation offers three principles to guide an organization to implement the goals of neo-institutional theory: (1) Providing signal of compliance with existing cultural rules; (2) promoting, which attempts to modify existing rules in a manner that benefits the organization; and (3) co-opting the behaviors of other organizations to achieve cooperation and collaboration on institutional norms for a collective benefit. All of these practices serve an organization’s strategy in a variety of ways from influencing regulation to marketing. Applying ethnographic content analysis to examine an organization’s strategic communications through the lens of neo-institutional theory provides a range of benefits from competitor analysis to internal-external organizationally commissioned communications audits.

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