Quotation Raynard, Mia, Kodeih, Farah, Greenwood, Royston. 2021. Proudly Elitist and Undemocratic? The Distributed Maintenance of Contested Practices. Organization Studies. 42 (1), 7-33.




This study examines the maintenance of highly institutionalized practices during periods of vehement contestation and changing external demands. Employing a cross-level longitudinal research design, we explore how the recruitment model of elite French Business Schools persisted, remaining fundamentally intact despite serious questions raised about its functional utility and social legitimacy. Comparing three periods of contestation, we document shifting coalitions of dispersed actors that were incentivized to ‘thematically’ maintain the practices in the focal field with little formal orchestration. Our findings indicate that practices which contribute to social stratification often foster meta-routines that cajole constituencies in multiple fields to, collectively and self-interestedly, promote and regulate conservative change. We identify three meta-routines – referential comparison, generative improvisation, and distributed monitoring and policing – that introduced flexibility and encouraged ‘unforced’ adaptations. In elaborating these meta-routines, we contribute to extant theory on the mechanisms of institutional maintenance, and shed further light on the role of complex embeddedness as a constraint on institutional processes.


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Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Journal article
Journal Organization Studies
Citation Index SSCI
WU Journalrating 2009 A
WU-Journal-Rating new FIN-A, MAN-A+, STRAT-A, WH-A
Language English
Title Proudly Elitist and Undemocratic? The Distributed Maintenance of Contested Practices
Volume 42
Number 1
Year 2021
Page from 7
Page to 33
Reviewed? Y
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/0170840619874462
Open Access Y
Open Access Link https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0170840619874462


Raynard, Mia (Details)
Greenwood, Royston (University of Alberta, Canada)
Kodeih, Farah (IÉSEG School of Management, France)
Management DP (Details)
Research areas (ÖSTAT Classification 'Statistik Austria')
5324 Organizational research (Details)
5333 Business management (Details)
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