Values are pivotal to institutions. Although prior research has mostly highlighted their positive effects, values also have a “dark” side, which we illuminate by looking at cases in which values perpetuate societal grand challenges, such as corruption or climate change. Societal deliberation plays an important role in efforts to change such values. In this essay, we explore how institutional scholars can produce insights that support societal deliberation on values that perpetuate grand challenges. We develop a framework on how institutional scholars can support such deliberation by analyzing (1) which alternative values are attainable and (2) how dominant values create trade-offs. By using this framework, institutional researchers can take a middle position between activist research on values, which jeopardizes the independence of research, and detached research on values, which loses the connection to practical concerns.
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The authors thank editor Pablo Martin de Holan, section editor Kamal Munir, and three reviewers for their excellent guidance throughout the review process. The authors also benefited from feedback on earlier versions of this article by Eva Boxenbaum, Corinna Frey, Pursey Heugens, Dennis Jancsary, Andreas Scherer, Marc Ventresca, and Christopher Wickert. The authors thank Artemis Gause for the language editing. The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
© The Author(s) 2022.