Tyllström, Anna | 2019
Organization Studies, https://doi.org/10.1177/0170840619848014
In this paper, I study an epitomic case of institutional carriers of ideas: revolving door lobbyists. In a multi-directional interview study, I follow 25 ‘revolvers’ as they move back and forth between two institutional spheres that seem starkly at odds with each other: politics and corporate lobbying. My findings indicate that carriers do not just carry things, but they themselves are transformed as they move. In fact, the revolving door constitutes a cognitive-cultural shift, making ‘revolvers’ into persons who think and act differently as they enter new spheres. Seeing carrying as a socialization process, I contribute to translation theory by developing a theoretical model detailing how socialization of institutional carriers can enable institutional carrying in cases where carrier and knowledge are impossible to separate. By redirecting attention to the somewhat forgotten aspect of socialization, I also contribute more widely to the theoretical discussion of the role of individuals in institutional change. Finally, my findings speak to cultural perspectives on the revolving door, emphasizing that scholars should embrace the organizational and institutional embeddedness of regulators and lobbyists in order to gain a full understanding of how policy is formed. I also discuss potential practical implications of revolving door lobbyism from a socialization perspective.