Écologies de gouvernance et métissage institutionnel
This sort of either-or dynamics has some attraction. It emphasizes the integrity of socio-technical systems and underlines the importance of acknowledging the power of this logic. Lachmann has indeed shown that the institutional order has some capacity to thwart efforts at modifying it, and there is a Darwinian selection mechanism at work that often leads the system to reject alien accretions or transplants (Lachmann 1971).
However, this rigid perspective uses an "either-or" framework in dealing with "more-or-less" situations. In fact, real-time systems are much less rigid and much less "intégristes" than is implied by Bélanger. They are constantly evolving and have to adapt and adjust to ever-changing circumstances. As a result, institutional métissage is a fact of life.
Such a métissage may take many forms.
For instance, Vertinski has shown that natural systems like colonies of slugs reveal a capacity for cohabitation of both centralized and decentralized modes of operation. They switch from one mode to the other depending on circumstances. In placid times, a leisurely decentralized system prevails where every individual slug pursues its own activities. But this system is "instantaneously" transformed in an army-like centralized system when the colony is under attack. As soon as the threat has gone, the system reverts back to its decentralized state. Vertinski has shown that there are similarities between this sort of switching strategy and certain Japanese management strategies (Vertinski 1987).
Institutional and organizational métissage may also lead to a true coupling of top-down and bottom-up dynamics. This may be said to exist in systems like common law in which there is a learning loop - decentralized bottom-up experiments and decisions in the local environments cumulatively putting pressure on the institutional order and leading to changes in it. Such changes in turn, modify the institutional order and, top-down so to speak, lead to certain types of experiments being "adopted", i.e., gaining a higher probability of success.
As long as the bottom-up experiments do not push the system outside of a certain corridor of acceptable performance, the system remains self-regulating. However, if and when the system drifts out of the corridor and enters a danger zone for its stability, some form of top-down regulatory power kicks in. This is the moment when Delta organizations à la Dror, (i.e., standing in an authority position above the fray, like the Supreme Court) get into the act (Dror 1997).
In yet other instances, truly different dominant logics prevail routinely in an intermingled way and do so quite effectively. An example is the After Action Program of the US Armed Forces. This program entails planned temporary hiatuses in the hierarchical operations of the forces when horizontal and rank-free discussions are allowed to prevail among the troops and their officers on what went right or wrong in certain recent operations. The old hierarchical order is re-instated as soon as this after-action planned non-permanent debate has concluded (Pascale et al 1997).