Under the Radar: Institutional Drift and Non-Strategic Institutional Change

Maxim Voronov*, Mary Ann Glynn, Klaus Weber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Although researchers have acknowledged that not all institutional change results from the intentional efforts of relatively reflexive actors, we lack an explanation of how mundane interactions between actors can result in non-strategic institutional change. To address this, we advance the theory of institutional drift that reveals how the practice deviation(s) that occur between interaction partners in an institutional order, transformed into tolerable deviations by the self and others, can lead to the non-strategic transformation of that institutional order. Our framework extends the interactionist perspective in organizational institutionalism by showing how interpersonal interactions are animated and constrained by people’s passionate attachment to the fundamental sacred ideals, or ethos, underlying institutional orders. It is this connection with ethos that animates the interactional processes tied to both maintaining and disrupting institutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)819-842
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2022


  • institutional change
  • institutions
  • interactions
  • practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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