Shifting responses to institutional change: The national football league and player concussions

Kathryn L. Heinze, Di Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Institutional research increasingly suggests that organizations are not passive recipients of institutional demands. Organizations can adopt a variety of strategies, including dismissing, decoupling, and co-opting, in response to pressure to change. Over time, organizations likely adopt different approaches, particularly as the institutional field continues to evolve. Through a longitudinal case study of the National Football League's responses to player concussions, we investigated shifts in how a powerful sport governing body responds to institutional change over time. We found that the National Football League moved through different responses, from more reactive strategies-including dismissing, decoupling, and acquiescing-to proactive attempts to control institutional change. Using data on the National Football League, we offer propositions about the factors that may influence organizational responses. This study advances understanding of powerful sport governing bodies' responses to institutional change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)497-513
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Sport Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Institutional change
  • Institutional theory
  • Organizational responses
  • Sport governing body


Dive into the research topics of 'Shifting responses to institutional change: The national football league and player concussions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this