This paper endeavours to contribute to the growing institutionalist literature on the conception of the institution. We draw from John Davis’ (2003) analysis of the individual in posing the questions: what differentiates institutions, and how can changing institutions be identified through time and space? Our analysis develops Searle’s (2005) argument that language is the fundamental institution. Searle’s argument is rather functionalist, however, and does not convey the ambiguity of language. Moreover, language and understanding, surely when related to most institutions in real life, delineate and circumscribe a community. A community cannot function without a common language, as Searle argued, but language also constitutes a community’s boundaries, and excludes unsavoury outsiders or alien topics for discussion. This is how institutions both constrain and enable. By drawing upon Luhmann’s (1995) systems analysis and notions of discourse, communication, and text we aim to augment the existing analytical role ascribed to habit in institutional analysis. Thus, we submit, understanding institutional change and thus durability may progress.

Discourse Re-Indentification, Institutional Change, Institutions, Language
Historical; Institutional (jel B15), Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior (jel L2), Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting (jel M), Business Administration: General (jel M10), Personnel Management (jel M12)
Erasmus Research Institute of Management
hdl.handle.net/1765/7109
ERIM Report Series Research in Management
ERIM report series research in management Erasmus Research Institute of Management
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Dolfsma, W.A, McMaster, R, & Finch, J. (2005). Institutions, Institutional Change, Language, and Searle (No. ERS-2005-067-ORG). ERIM report series research in management Erasmus Research Institute of Management. Erasmus Research Institute of Management. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/7109