Theorizing Institutional Entrepreneuring: Arborescent and rhizomatic assembling

Joel Gehman, Garima Sharma, Alim Beveridge

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


A growing body of research has cataloged the myriad actors involved in tackling persistent institutional problems. Yet we lack a theoretical toolkit for explicitly conceptualizing and comparing diverse modes of institutional entrepreneuring—the processes whereby actors are created and equipped for institutional action—capable of ameliorating grand challenges. Drawing on assemblage theory, we articulate two ideal-typical modes of assembling actorhood: arborescent and rhizomatic. We differentiate each mode along four principles: association, combination, division, and population. Building on our theorization, we propound an arborescent-rhizomatic space comprising clusters of arborescent, rhizomatic, and hybrid actorhood. To explore the generativity of our framework, we revisit selected research at the intersection of institutional entrepreneurship and grand challenges. We close by articulating how our concept of assembling actorhood reorients research toward institutional entrepreneuring and contributes to the application of assemblage theory within organization studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-310
Number of pages22
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • Deleuze and Guattari
  • actorhood
  • assemblage theory
  • grand challenges
  • institutional entrepreneurship
  • rhizome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


Dive into the research topics of 'Theorizing Institutional Entrepreneuring: Arborescent and rhizomatic assembling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this