We develop and corroborate the latent aspect of institutional theory that institutional spectators observe and reproduce inter-organizational symbolism. Prior research has explored whether institutional norms produce symbolic similarity across organizations, but assessments of whether such symbolic imagery is in fact monitored by institutional audiences are rare. Nonetheless, this process of institutional spectatorship represents an important foundation of various strands of institutional theorizing. Also, a better understanding of the ceremonial interactions between organizations and their spectators would help the field of institutional theory reconnect itself to its phenomenological origins. To advance our grasp of institutional spectatorship, we report a study of the Canadian beer brewing industry that shows how the symbolic self-presentations of breweries are reproduced by a central spectator: the news media. The results suggest that institutional spectatorship is an important dramaturgical process that influences the structuration and stratification of organizational fields.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1177/0170840609337935, hdl.handle.net/1765/55365
Journal Organization Studies
Lamertz, K, & Heugens, P.P.M.A.R. (2009). Institutional Translation through Spectatorship: Collective Consumption and Editing of Symbolic Organizational Texts by Firms and their Audiences. Organization Studies, 30(11), 1249–1279. doi:10.1177/0170840609337935