Imitation and processes of institutionalization - Insights from Bourdieu's theory of practice

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New institutional theory highlights the importance of language in processes of institutionalization, but Bourdieu argues that institutions are also transmitted by mimesis, i.e., the unconscious imitation of other actors' actions. The aim of this paper is to develop a framework that explains institutionalization through imitation. I show that through imitation, actors unconsciously incorporate a field's practices and build field-related cognitive schemata that enable them to better adapt to a field's specificities. The paper contributes to new institutionalism by developing a new perspective on the process of institutionalization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-42
Number of pages19
JournalSchmalenbach Business Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • bourdieu
  • cognition
  • habitus
  • institutionalization
  • new institutional theory

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