Monday, January 21, 2019


The Management Department & The Research Center


Arijit Chatterjee, Anjan Ghosh, & BERNARD LECA

will present their paper

Tuesday, January 29th 2019
   Room N231 – 9:15 a.m. in Cergy
4:15 p.m. in Singapore

Scaling up Good Ideas: Institutional Work from the Margins

Grand challenges – lack of drinking water, marine pollution, food scarcity, gender disparities, or resource depletion – have been around for a long time. We know from available evidence that rules and laws, routines, scripts and schema, norms and habits make this stability possible (Banerjee & Iyer, 2005; Milanović, 2010; Nunn, 2008). In other words, institutional arrangements lead to the reproduction and survival of these enduring social ills (Deaton & Dreze, 2009; DiMaggio & Powell, 1983; Meyer & Rowan, 1977). Governments and multilateral agencies have taken initiatives, NGOs have proliferated (Boli & Thomas, 1999) but these acute and widespread problems persist.
Upward scale shifts (McAdam, Tarrow, & Tilly, 2001) – contentious actions that diffuse vertically – can surface issues from small to large arenas. However, unlike social movements, some problems do not necessarily need confrontation but quiet constructive problem-solving that requires tenacity and the ability to work within the system. Many grand challenges do not require us to contest the already enshrined rights but to engage with the existing system and ensure their effective implementation on the ground. Structure, therefore, is not simply an exogenous restraining force. It is also a resource to be deployed to enlarge the catchment area and address grand challenges – enabling one’s own path without confronting existing institutions (Djelic & Quack, 2007; Garud & Karnøe, 2001).
What practices enable organizations to achieve large scale change? We explore this question in an inductive study of the Child In Need Institute (CINI), a non-profit organization working to eradicate child malnutrition in India. Relying on forty years of archival data, semi-structured interviews and field notes, we derive a theory of scaling up ideas from the margins. We make three contributions: we develop a set of transferable practices (creative disruption ® linking ® imbrication) for addressing grand challenges; we find how marginal actors can engage in long-term and large-scale institutional work; and we show how impact and reach was achieved by constructing a dense network.