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Governing and Balancing Harmonisation in Complex Organisational Fields

In her dissertation project, PhD Student Cecilia Fredriksson is studying harmonisation efforts (i.e. homogenisation) and the re-organisation of independent auditing in a European perspective. This is studied in the context of European accreditation auditing, where one homogenisation effort took place in 2008 with the form of a new legal framework.

Background and research questions:

In society, it is possible to observe a variety of efforts to homogenise states and organisations, while at the same time, organisations are traditionally seen as autonomous and independent. From previous studies, we can expect that organisations are likely to face multiple, and at times conflicting, institutional demands in changing and multi-dimensional organisational settings, causing tensions and challenges. Thus, tensions are likely to arise between organising autonomous organisations in a homogenised structure. How organisations deal with and balance this tension is examined in the dissertation, with the following preliminary research question:

  • How are harmonisation efforts governed and how do organisations balance and respond to these efforts?

Research approach:

This study is a qualitative and interpretive study consisting of data collection through document analysis, interviews with representatives from different organisations within European and international accreditation, as well and participant-observation of one European and one global accreditation audit meeting.

Expected contributions:

This PhD project aims at responding to the call for research by Greenwood et. al. (2011) by providing a better understanding of the intersection of organisations, fields and logics and the nuances of the relationship between them, as well as deepening the knowledge on organisational responses when facing multiple and conflicting demands. The PhD project is expected to contribute with a problematisation and conceptualisation of homogenisation (i.e. harmonisation) and how organisations balance institutional complexity. Furthermore, the empirical field of accreditation audit opens up for contributions regarding the organisation and performance of accreditation audit in Europe and its role as a control function, as well as the organisation of auditor independence.

Further information:

This PhD project has been funded by Handelsbankens forskningsstiftelser and Stockholm School of Economics. The PhD project is part of a bigger research project, which you can read more about by following this link.

Referenced publications:

Greenwood, R., Raynard, M., Kodeih F., Micelotta, E., & Lounsbury, M. (2011). Institutional Complexity and Organizational Responses, The Academy of Management Annals, 5(1), 317-371.