Normative Orders in the Coast Guard Response to Melting Arctic Ice: Institutional Logics or Anchoring Concepts
Haider, Haider A.
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Underlying institutional forms are normative orders which give meaning to rules, norms, practices and customs. It is only recently that scholars have seriously considered the role of normative orders in institutional dynamics. Two meta-theories of institutionalism offer competing visions of how these normative orders are invoked. The Institutional Logics Perspective calls normative orders “institutional logics” and suggest that they are invoked in a consistent stable fashion. The Pragmatist Institutionalism approach calls normative orders “anchoring concepts” and suggests that they are used in less predictable ways to produce meaning. This study introduces the concept of fidelity to capture the difference between these two approaches and test which approach may offer a more accurate account of how normative orders are invoked in practice. The study uses the case of the USCG response to melting Arctic ice to study this issue by focusing on the two most dominant normative orders of American government. The study relies on interviews conducted with USCG personnel dealing with the agency’s response to melting Artic Ice. The data is then analyzed through a narrative analysis framework. The study finds that normative orders are invoked, in this case, in a manner more closely aligned with Pragmatist Institutionalism. This finding has implications for how administrative judgement is understood especially with respect to public agencies.
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