Le maintien institutionnel comme travail de justification : le cas de l'industrie de la notation du crédit
The work of maintaining institutions has been barely studied by neo-institutional analysis. We propose to enrich this notion thanks to the empirical study of credit rating. The credit rating industry is characterized by a paradox that lies in the opposition between the permanence that comes with this phenomenon while it is strongly criticized. Based on the approach of Boltanski and Thévenot’s economies of worth, we carry out an analysis of the institutional work of justification performed by the actors at the time of the public consultations led by the American Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) during the 2000-2010 crisis of justification. A qualitative analysis of 340 comments was conducted using NVivo software. The analysis indicates that the controversies permitted a reaffirmation of the established legitimacy principles, impeding any actual modification of the status quo. During the considered period, we distinguish between a first work of maintenance, lying on a simple confirmation of what actually is, and a process of maintenance much more complex and dynamic, in which various logics are put together in a way that leads to the reaffirmation of the effective legitimacy principles and to the rejection of any logic not involved in the compromise. The previously enounced paradox of credit rating shall therefore be reconsidered: the contestation of rating is precisely fueling the institutional maintenance in the industry. In its stability, the institution is to be conceived here as inseparable from its contestation.
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