How institutions communicate: Institutional messages, institutional logics, and organizational communication

John C. Lammers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Institutional messages provide a conceptual and empirical link between the predominantly macro world of institutions and the micro world of organizational communication. The concept of the institutional message is used colloquially but has not been developed theoretically.The conception that emerges from a review of the scholarly and primitive uses is that institutional messages are collations of thoughts that take on lives independent of senders and recipients. They may have the force of rules, spread intentionally or unintentionally via multiple channels to narrow or wider audiences. This essay considers the institutionality of messages in terms of their endurance, reach, encumbency, and intentionality. Institutional messages carry institutional logics-patterns of beliefs and rules. They are collations of thoughts that are intentional, enduring, have a wide reach, and encumber organizational participants to engage in certain behaviors or to take performative responses. It is argued that individuals and organizations develop institutional logics as they make sense of institutional messages. Implications and suggestions for research are included.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-182
Number of pages29
JournalManagement Communication Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • institutional theory
  • organizational communication
  • organizational theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Strategy and Management


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