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Divided we stand: How contestation can facilitate institutionalization

Eun Young Song

Journal of Management Studies, 2020, vol. 57, issue 4, 837-866

Abstract: Existing literature on institutionalization highlights that regulatory institutions emerge from resolving disputes, paying little attention to the key behavioral aspect of disputes: contestation. In this paper, I aim to advance the literature by developing a model of contestation‐based institutionalization; contestation facilitates the adoption of new regulatory institutions, laws. Drawing on socio‐legal and network perspectives on the way people argue in a dispute, I focus on a behavioral code of contestation – the shared understanding and expectation about how to argue rather than what to argue. Contestation makes it easier for lawmakers to adopt a new regulatory institution when the lawmakers argue in conformity with the code. Network and event history analyses of animal lawsuits and laws in the United States from 1865 to 2010 confirm this model. This paper highlights the value of looking into the behavioral dimension of disputes and advances our understanding of institutionalization without emphasizing dispute resolution.

Date: 2020
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