Putney to Mortlake: Microprocesses of Institutional Maintenance

Date, Time, Venue

17 November 2011, Thursday


University College London

1st floor Exec-Ed room, 

Engineering Front Building ("Malet place" in Google maps)


Using a 199-day ethnography of Cambridge's 2007 season preparations for the annual University Boat Race, we explore the microprocesses through which highly institutionalized practices are maintained by examining how institutional inhabitants collectively restore breakdowns in institutionalized practice. Our analysis reveals how institutions can be inoculated from such breakdowns through maintenance work. We find that the salience and importance of different forms of maintenance work varies with the nature and process history of practice breakdowns. Thus our analysis suggests that institutional maintenance is a multi-layered process involving different forms of maintenance work that are interrelated in temporally contingent ways.


Mark De Rond is a Reader in Strategy & Organisation at Cambridge Judge Business School and a fellow of Darwin College. Prior to joining Cambridge Judge Business School, Mark was an assistant professor in strategy at ESSEC Business School, Paris (1999-2001), a college lecturer at University College and Trinity College (University of Oxford), and a research fellow at the Sol C. Snider Entrepreneurial Research Center at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. His research has featured in The EconomistTIME magazineThe Financial TimesThe TimesThe Sunday TimesThe Times Higher Education Supplement (THES)The IndependentThe GuardianThe ObserverThe TelegraphThe Chronicle of Higher EducationManagement TodayThe WeekDer SpiegelDe VolkskrantHet Financieel Dagblad, and on BBC Radio 4, the BBC World Service, BBC Cambridgeshire and TalkSPORT, as well as on Dutch national radio. Mark's most recent book "The Last Amateurs" was listed as one of the 12 Best Business Books of 2008 by The Financial Times, appeared on JP Morgan's 10th annual summer reading list (top 10 of 500), and included in a review of 10 of the Best Sporting Reads of 2008 by BBC Sport.