Interinstitutional shaping of retail innovation : the nineteenth century retail arcade

Alexander, Nicholas and Doherty, Anne Marie (2022) Interinstitutional shaping of retail innovation : the nineteenth century retail arcade. Business History. ISSN 0007-6791 (

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The retail arcade was an innovative format that proliferated across the urban landscape in the late nineteenth century. However, it has attracted limited research attention from business historians. This article addresses this research gap by identifying the reasons for arcade development and the business relationships that enabled their widespread commercialisation. The retail arcade provided a thoroughfare between two centres of urban activity. The realisation of this transitional retail space required civic support and a commercial framework that facilitated the reification of experiential retailing. It provided financial rewards to multiple business interests whose complex relationships underpinned its operational characteristics. Britain provides the research context. Adopting an institutional logics theoretical perspective, this paper considers the interinstitutional shaping of this hybrid organisational form over more than half a century. A rare and rich source of archival material facilitates the study of quotidian activity within this innovative retail format.