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

Michael Smets, Paula Jarzabkowski, Gary T. Burke, Paul Spee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-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 away from structural and relatively static organizational responses to institutional complexity and identify three balancing mechanisms - segmenting, bridging, and demarcating - which allow individuals to manage competing logics and their shifting salience within their everyday work. Second, we integrate these mechanisms in a theoretical model that explains how individuals can continually keep coexisting logics, and their tendencies to either blend or disconnect, in a state of dynamic tension which makes them conflicting-yet-complementary logics. Our model shows how actors are able to dynamically balance coexisting logics, maintaining the distinction between them, whilst also exploiting the benefits of their interdependence. 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 institutional complexity can itself become institutionalized and routinely enacted within everyday practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)932-970
Number of pages39
JournalAcademy of Management Journal
Issue number3
Early online date8 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015


  • competing institutional logics
  • hybrid organizations
  • professional work
  • multilevel model
  • paradox
  • science
  • field
  • innovation
  • community
  • strategy


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