Developing balancing practices to overcome institutional voids in Tanzanian forest sector management

Jarkko Levänen, Sara Lindeman, Matti Tervo, Tatu Lyytinen, Minna Halme

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientificpeer-review


This article shows how fundamental diverging issues between key actors in base of the pyramid (BOP) markets enlarge institutional voids, and how intermediaries can aim to bridge such voids through the development of balancing practices. From an empirical vantage point we identify three institutional voids – lack of knowhow, standards and value chains – hampering the development of Tanzanian forestry. We analyse these voids in relation to stakeholders’ differing conceptions about the system in which they operate, the optimal time frame of operations, and the required quality of wood processing and products. Fundamental diverging issues stem from deeply held socio-cultural conceptions that are difficult, but not impossible, to change. The article shows how the imbalance between subsistence, market and development logics further adds to the institutional voids and thus produces and maintains inefficiencies in forestry, holding back the whole sector. Institutional voids and inefficient practices are among the mechanisms that are keeping the local poor people locked in poverty. The article illustrates how an intermediary organization can proactively develop more sustainable informal practices that ease the problem of institutional voids and gradually resolve inefficiencies. The development of new practices is based on the idea of balancing between competing logics in different everyday situations. Balancing practices synthesize divergent conceptions, clarify the operational environment and improve learning. Once sufficiently developed, new practices may gradually become institutionalized, providing an opportunity for the whole institutional structure to reproduce itself. Based on the analysis presented, the article puts forward a model describing the dynamics between institutional voids, logics, fundamental diverging issues and proactive balancing. The results contribute to a deeper understanding of the root causes underlying institutional voids in BOP markets.


Vol. 2018, No. 1


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Published online 9 July 2018
Published in print 1 July 2018


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AOM Annual Meeting Proceedings 2018
AOM Chicago 2018
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeNot Eligible
EventAcademy of Management Annual Meeting: Improving Lives - Chicago, United States
Duration: 10 Aug 201814 Aug 2018
Conference number: 78


ConferenceAcademy of Management Annual Meeting
Abbreviated titleAOM
Country/TerritoryUnited States


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