“The Leopard Does Not Change Its Spots”: Structuration Theory and the Process of Managerial Decision-Making Regarding Popular Management Theories

Research paper by Sonya Pagel, Robert Westerfelhaus

Indexed on: 03 Aug '19Published on: 22 Feb '19Published in: International Journal of Business Communication


International Journal of Business Communication, Ahead of Print. Popular management theories (PMTs) significantly influence how organizations are run. To date, scholarship investigating the PMT phenomenon has focused on their perceived popularity, relative merits, and dissemination patterns, while ignoring the decision-making processes of the managers who constitute PMTs’ prime audience. This study departs from that research tradition by drawing upon data collected from 22 interviews with upper- and mid-level managers. The authors employ structuration theory to chart the structural features influencing managerial decisions regarding PMTs at three sites of structuration: conception, implementation, and reception. And, they point out how tensions between and among the sites prompt and constrain organizational change. The authors contend that the play between these contradictory impulses ultimately determine the extent to which, if at all, managers pursue full or partial implementation of a particular PMT or reject it and explore other options.