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University of Oslo, Norway



The salience of global issues initiates a shift in legitimacy values that puts well-entrenched fields and their legacy incumbents under pressure to engage in more substantial change. Yet, a multiplicity expectations prevails that might be in contrast to each other and threaten different dimensions of legitimacy. Through an inductive, longitudinal analysis of central field incumbents in the Norwegian oil and gas industry (2007 to 2022), we develop a model of frame inversion which illuminates how actors can balance contradicting legitimacy expectations through discursive and substantial business changes. Our findings suggests that organizations navigate pathways of change by serving both contested and novel business areas, legitimated by frame inversion. Frame inversion employs the emerging issue-based frame and inversely rewires it to re-legitimate contested lines of business. Our findings contribute to a dynamic perspective of framing by highlighting the interpretive framing dynamics around symbolic and substantial change efforts, as well as the management of conflicting legitimacy dimensions during times of change


Hannah Schupfer is a fourth year PhD candidate at the University of Oslo, Norway. Her main research interests lie within the intersection of organization studies, institutional theory and grand challenges. She seeks to understand organizational and institutional dynamics and change processes related to sustainability crises. Empirically, she conducts qualitative research on established organizations in the oil and gas industry, a setting that has become heavily contested due to its contribution to the climate crisis. In her work, she has investigated organizational approaches to green innovation through building purpose and legitimacy within conventional organizational structures, but also how incumbents collectively manage the rising stigmatization towards the industry through linguistic mechanisms. Streams of literature include frames and framing, categories, legitimacy, and green innovation.

Hannah Schupfer

Hannah Schupfer

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