Pushing Boundaries, Blurring Lines: How Repugnant Transactions Shape Institutional Entrepreneurship

Aureliu Sindila, Nicolai Juul Foss, Xueyong Zhan

Research output: Unpublished conference presentation (presented paper, abstract, poster)PosterAcademic researchpeer-review


Repugnant transactions, that is, commercially viable yet morally or socially questionable activities, represent a unique arena for the understanding of institutional entrepreneurship that has not yet been addressed in management research. Here, entrenched norms are exploited, challenged, and potentially transformed by entrepreneurs pushing the boundaries of ethical acceptability. This article theorizes the links between repugnant transactions and institutional entrepreneurship, drawing upon insights from research on repugnant transactions, moral markets, and stigmatized industries. We introduce the concept of the repugnance entrepreneur, highlighting their agency in (re-)shaping the legitimacy of transactions and associated activities. Repugnance entrepreneurs engage in norm-challenging activities motivated by the anticipated repugnance premium (i.e., expected additional payment for offering repugnant products or services) and the realized repugnance premium (i.e., the actual compensation received after navigating institutional entrepreneurship and societal reactions). Repugnant transactions’ deviance from established norms influences repugnance entrepreneurs’ participation in institutional entrepreneurship as well as the reaction of the rest of society, influencing the extent to which institutional entrepreneurship verily results in institutional change. This process may potentially culminate in the creation of new institutions or the transformation of existing ones.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2024


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