Values and emotions are an integral part of actors who inhabit institutions. Their importance, however, has been overlooked in the literature on microfoundations of neo-institutional theory, harboring the risks of falling back to the conceptualization of social actors as value-free, rational agents. In this dissertation, I seek to understand the depth and breath of actors’ values and emotions in institutional processes through a 212-day ethnographic study of multiple religious organizations in Indonesia.
Through two empirical studies I have managed to infuse the neglected yet essential concepts of values and emotions into the phenomenological foundations of neo-institutional theory. Specifically, I offer a more nuanced understanding of the dynamic mechanisms of how values and emotions are connected, how they are translated into different types of institutional work, and how their galvanizing power is restricted by systemic power or institutional contexts. Finally, findings from these studies carry relevant and far-reaching implications for corporate or governmental organizations whose leaders have absolute power over their followers or whose institutional contexts vary from facile to hostile.