This chapter will concern itself with institutional theory. Our intent is to sketch out the underpinning assumptions of institutional theories and map out its various strands. Furthermore, in order to help students to understand which strands of institutional theory might prove to be relevant and useful for helping to make sense of their research findings, we provide a literature review of its use within the accounting discipline.
The chapter is set out in three sections. First, we outline three institutional approaches that, to date, have probably had the most influence on accounting research. In the second section, we review extant accounting research that has been informed by institutional explanations, with a particular focus on those works that have adopted ‘new’ institutional sociology and both ‘old’ and ‘new’ institutional economics. Finally, the third section is dedicated to the consideration of providing a future research agenda for institutional research in accounting, including some discussion of current and recent criticisms directed at institutional theory.