Reinsurance trading in Lloyd’s of London: balancing conflicting-yet-complementary logics in practice

Michael Smets

Research output: Contribution to journalConference abstractpeer-review


Drawing on a year-long ethnographic study of reinsurance trading in Lloyd’s of London, this paper makes three contributions to current discussions of institutional complexity. First, we shift focus from purposeful organizational responses to institutional complexity to the everyday practices by which individuals collectively address competing demands on their work. Based on our findings, we develop a model of how individuals can balance conflicting institutional demands through a set of four interrelated practices, labeled segmenting, switching, bridging, and demarcating. Second, moving beyond the dominant focus on contradiction between logics, we show how these practices comprise a system of conflicting-yet-complementary logics, through which actors are able to both work within contradictions, whilst also exploiting the benefits of interdependent logics. Third, in contrast to most studies of newly formed hybrids and/or novel complexity, our focus on a long-standing context of institutional complexity, shows how balancing logics can become a matter of settled complexity, enacted routinely within everyday practice.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
JournalAcademy of Management Proceedings
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012
EventAcademy of Management Annual Meeting - Boston, United States
Duration: 3 Aug 20127 Aug 2012


  • institutional logics
  • institutional complexity
  • practice theory

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