Values, interests, and the capacity to act: Understanding professionals' responses to market-based improvement initiatives in highly institutionalized organizations

James R. Detert, Timothy G. Pollock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


This article uses a longitudinal, multimethod, comparative case study of teachers' behavioral and cognitive reactions to the implementation of Total Quality Management (TQM) in two U.S. high schools to explore professionals' reactions to change in a highly institutionalized environment. Detailed analyses using the metathemes of teachers' values, personal interests, and capacity for change revealed that teachers held positive views about most aspects of the change initiative but that personal interests and capacity issues limited their implementation. The findings also suggest that in neither school have changes become cognitively institutionalized, or self-sustaining, despite different levels of coercion coming from multiple levels of the schools' complex institutional environments and different patterns of actual practice change across the schools. The results contribute to a variety of literatures interested in explaining stability and change in highly institutionalized settings (e.g., neoinstitutional, professions, identity).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-214
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Applied Behavioral Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2008


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology

Cite this