Christopher Steele

Assistant Professor

Alberta School of Business

Strategic Management and Organization

About Me

From the beginning of my career, I have been interested in three overarching topics: the production and consumption of knowledge, the emergence and maintenance of identity, and the production of order, meaning, and innovation in everyday life. I continue to focus on these questions, which would keep me happily occupied for several lifetimes. I did my undergraduate and master’s degrees at the Said Business School, University of Oxford, and my doctorate at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.


Research Interests

Within the three broad themes mentioned above, my work connects to a variety of more specific questions. How is it that certain things come to be accepted as true, self-evident, practical or impossible? When are different methods of knowing prioritized in organizations, and in societies more broadly? When, and with what effect, do people attribute character and intentionality to organizations and other collectives? And how do these various processes ground efforts at innovation and entrepreneurship? My research to date has explored the dynamics of identity and innovation within a new physician specialty in the U.S., and the efforts of business analysts and others to design, legitimate, and implement data analytic techniques, as well as a theoretical consideration of the role of history in the formation and dynamics of societal logics. Theoretically, I draw on resources from institutional, organizational, and practice theory, and from the sociology of knowledge; as well as social theory more broadly.


Ocasio, W., Mauskapf, M., & Steele, C.W.J. 2016 (all authors contributed equally). ‘History, society, and institutions: The role of collective memory in the formation of societal logics’. Academy of Management Review, 41(4): 676-699.

Pouthier, V., Steele, C.W.J., & Ocasio, W. 2013. ‘From agents to principles: The changing relationship between hospitalist identity and logics of healthcare’. Pp. 203-241 in Michael Lounsbury and Eva Boxenbaum [Eds.], Institutional Logics in Action (Research in the Sociology of Organizations volume 39A).

Steele, C.W.J., & King, B. 2011. ‘Collective intentionality and the organization: A meta-ethnography of organizational identity and strategic decision-making’. Pp. 59-95 in Shane R. Thye, Edward J. Lawler [Eds.], Advances in Group Processes, Volume 28. Emerald.

Research in Progress:

Steele, C.W.J. Institutional legibility.

Steele, C.W.J. An empirical study of legitimacy dynamics in the production of knowledge.

Steele, C.W.J. Analytics for others: How business analysts craft knowledge practices for use by other groups.

Steele, C.W.J., & Ocasio, W. Communal entrepreneurship: How the business analytics community produces skilled change agents.

Steele, C.W.J., Ocasio, W., & Pouthier, V. The generativity of institutional logics.

Steele, C.W.J., & Pouthier, V. The co-evolution of identities and logics: The metaphor of identity as territory.

Steele, C.W.J. & Weber, K. Material moralities: The roles of objects in the production of moral cognition and behavior.

Wang, M.S., & Steele, C.W.J. Socializing the market: Institutional de-composition and re-composition during the marketization of China, 1978-2004.


I teach undergraduate-level courses in management (SMO 310) and business strategy (SMO 441). These courses are both designed to blend theoretical depth and practical relevance, and to provide plentiful opportunities for discussion and reflection. While at Northwestern, I also taught a course to medical students, on “The politics of life: Biopolitics and biopower’.