Bridging divides: translating the concept of sustainable livelihoods to rural Indonesia through institutional empowerment work

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Bruggemann, I 
Kroezen, JJ 

This study delivers insights into how heterogeneous promoters and adopters of an idea can overcome asymmetries regarding their life- worlds and positions of power to achieve idea translation. Based on the case of the translation of the concept of sustainable livelihoods to Indonesia, which involved rural farmers and an international conservation NGO, we argue that translation involving heterogeneous actors requires multiple dimensions of institutional empowerment work jointly executed through promoters, adopters and boundary-spanning intermediaries. First, political empowerment work refers to building structures for the participation of the low- power stakeholders during translation, enabling adopters to actively contribute their perspectives. Second, social empowerment work relates to establishing relationships between promoters and adopters that support the process of translation, through addressing a lack of interpersonal trust and adopters’ identification with an idea. We contribute through developing a processual view of translation, which complicates the largely one-directional notion of translation prevalent in the literature. Furthermore, we present types of institutional work required to establish cooperation among heterogeneous actors, a dimension of work that has so far been understudied, and deliver insights into tackling grand challenges involving outsider-driven institutional change.

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Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings
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Academy of Management
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Academy of Management