Institutional Fields as Arenas of Rhetorical Engagement: Convergence, Conflict, and Divergence Between Competing Logics in the Field of Finance

Sine Nørholm Just*, Sara Dahlman, Nicolaas T.O. Mouton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This article contributes to the theory of rhetorical institutionalism (Green & Li, 2011) by considering the relationship between institutional entrepreneurs and the institutional fields in which they operate as configured by rhetorical strategies. Thus, we posit that the legitimacy of institutional entrepreneurs and institutional fields, respectively, is an inherently rhetorical construct (Suddaby & Greenwood, 2005), whereby rhetorical engagement becomes central to the establishment, maintenance, and reform of institutions (Brown, Ainsworth & Grant, 2012; Green, Babb & Alpaslan, 2008). Working with an illustrative case of the Co-operative Bank's financial distress and leadership scandal, we identify three particular strategies of rhetorical engagement with competing institutional logics, which we label convergence, conflict, and divergence. Thus, we add to the theory of rhetorical institutionalism by arguing, broadly, that institutional fields are arenas of rhetorical engagement between competing institutional logics and identifying, more specifically, three rhetorical strategies for constituting institutional legitimacy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCommunication Theory
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)696-713
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • Institutional Entrepreneurship
  • Institutional Legitimacy
  • Institutional Logics
  • Rhetorical Engagement
  • Rhetorical Institutionalism
  • The Co-operative Bank

Cite this