The Evolution of Issue Interpretation within Organizational Fields: Framing Trajectories and Field Settlement


AuthorsLitrico, J.B., David, R. 

Publication: Academy of Management Journal 


We seek to understand how actors' interpretations of contentious issues evolve over time within organizational fields and how these interpretations lead to field settlement. Empirically, we examine how groups of actors in the field of civil aviation interpreted the environmental issues of noise and emissions over the period 1996-2010. Actors employed various cultural frames to interpret these issues as they rose and fell in prominence within the field. We develop a framework to track actors' framing trajectories over time, in particular the extent to which these frames reveal actors' stance towards buffering versus integrating issues into their core operations, and describe four such prototypical framing trajectories. We find that actors' framing trajectories were influenced by the extent to which they were directly linked to issues in societal discourse and by direct contact with concerned audiences. Based on our analysis, we build theory of how actor framing of issues evolves over time and leads to field settlement of contentious issues.

Read full article: Academy of Management Journal, March 21, 2016