Institutional entrepreneurship: a literature review and analysis of the maturing consulting field

Michael Smets*, Markus Reihlen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


With few exceptions (e.g. Fincham & Clark, 2002; Lounsbury, 2002, 2007; Montgomery & Oliver, 2007), we know little about how emerging professions, such as management consulting, professionalize and establish their services as a taken-for-granted element of social life. This is surprising given that professionals have long been recognized as “institutional agents” (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983; Scott, 2008) (see Chapter 17) and professionalization projects have been closely associated with institutionalization (DiMaggio, 1991).
Therefore, in this chapter we take a closer look at a specific type of entrepreneurship in PSFs; drawing on the concept of “institutional entrepreneurship” (DiMaggio, 1988; Garud, Hardy, & Maguire, 2007; Hardy & Maguire, 2008) we describe some generic strategies by which proto-professions
can enhance their “institutional capital” (Oliver, 1997), that is, their capacity to extract institutionally contingent resources such as legitimacy, reputation, or client relationships from their environment.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of research on entrepreneurship in professional services
EditorsMarkus Reihlen, Andreas Werr
PublisherEdward Elgar
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-78100-910-9
ISBN (Print)978-1-84844-626-7, 1-84844-626-8
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2012

Publication series

NameElgar original reference
PublisherEdward Elgar publishing

Bibliographical note

The chapter is for personal use only and directing any queries about re-use to Edward Elgar Publishing.


  • institutional entrepreneurship
  • institutional capital
  • consulting


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