Resist or comply: The power dynamics of organisational routines during merger

Mehdi Safavi, Omid Omidvar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


The role of power and agency in the development of organizational routines is under-theorized. In this paper, we draw on an in-depth qualitative case study of a merger between two academic institutions, a college of art and a university, and examine the diverging responses of two organizational routines (admissions and budgeting) during the course of the merger to understand how power dynamics contribute to resistance/compliance of routines. Our findings suggest that the differences in routines’ responses to a merger initiative can be explained by applying Bourdieu's theory of practice and by employing the concepts of field and symbolic capital to unpack power relations in the context of organizational routines, and to disclose why some routine participants can exercise their agency while others cannot. We find that (a) the field within which a routine operates and (b) the actors’ symbolic capital and position-taking during change implementation shape routines’ responses to organizational change initiatives.

Publisher Statement: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)550-566
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Issue number3
Early online date2 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


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