Identifying elastic hybridity through a multilevel perspective of institutional complexity. Case study of a French prison


  • Basse Laurine


  • Elastic hybridity
  • Institutional complexity
  • Institutional logics perspective
  • Prison

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Driven by external constraints and internal requirements, the prison institution is an ever-changing environment. Prisons are subject to a pendulum effect of public policy, with grey areas around the application of best practices. To theorize the alternance between various institutional requirements, we will use the institutional logics perspective and question the recent concept of elastic hybridity. Drawing on the hybrid exploratory approach, we have performed a case study of a French prison in order to understand the beliefs, discourses and practices of the penitentiary field. First, we identified four institutional logics (protection, reintegration, legal bureaucratic, and performance), characterize the field and the organization to explain antecedents of oscillation. Therefore, we analysed the concept of complexity via multi-level characteristics: the degree of conflict intensity, the degree of attention to conflict, and the degree of means’ availability. Then, we identified consequences of this balancing act with greater precision through illustration of creation spaces. We illustrate how temporary organizational arrangements can shape and influence institutions through the creation of spaces for interpretation and negotiation. Therefore, our research contributes to deepening scientific knowledge in the management of societal institutions and its constant adaptation to societal challenges. The study of organizational practices resulting from the management of elastic hybridity in the penitentiary field also brings empirical contributions to institutional theory

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