Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Institutional Arbitrageurs: The Role of Product Managers as a Locus of Change in Journalism

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Abstract:  The modern news industry demands a continuous stream of products ready to meet audience needs; the emergent newsroom role of product manager serves to prioritize them by providing a holistic perspective on an organization’s goals. Product professionals bring in new skill sets and help to bridge the divide and align the priorities among editorial, business, and technology functions, serving as a locus of change in journalism. This sets the stage for institutional complexity where actors struggle to make decisions due to competing logics, which are socially constructed rules created to normalize behavior. This article thus focuses on the dynamics of change in a complex environment by examining news product professionals as institutional arbitrageurs, which are actors who bring competing logics together to create value during a time of complexity. This framing raises questions regarding the locus of change in journalism and aims to further understand the tactics used by actors in a complex environment such as the field of journalism. A qualitative study using interviews with digital journalism’s product professionals is used to address this phenomenon, which allows for a theoretical contextualization of the dynamics of change in journalism and specifically, how product managers act as a locus of change using their roles to manage complexity by bringing incompatible logics together to leverage differences between them.

Keywords:  innovation; institutional arbitrage; institutional change; journalism; news product manager; news professional; product managers



© Allie Kosterich, Cindy Royal. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.