Challenge in the Fourth Estate: Institutional complexity in news organizations

Authors: Nordberg, D.

Conference: European Group for Organizational Studies

Dates: 2-5 July 2014


In liberal democracies, news organizations have an institutional character. This short paper outlines a project to examine the literature on journalism for examples of institutional complexity and the coping mechanisms that develop to deal with it. Like certain other professions, news organizations enjoyed a privileged status in liberal democracies, owing to the public service role they are supposed to play. But news is not a profession in the way law and accountancy are, with a formal body of knowledge, rules and codified professional ethics. Its norms are more informal but still often deeply held and therefore at risk of cognitive dissonance as actors engage with overlapping, competing and contradictory logics. But its actors suffer in those interactions from information asymmetries, and they face increasing technological and social change in their own industry, adding to the institutional complexity. This paper seeks to review the literature on journalism, identity and capture through the lens of the institutional logics perspective. It is part of a larger project to examine a particular case of such complexity: the role of the business and financial press in three countries in institutionalizing changing views of the nature of corporate governance.

Source: Manual