This study takes an institutional perspective on industry creation, which argues that an industry's maturation relies on a process of building legitimacy and establishing rules for competition. It addresses the institutional evolution process that an industry experiences, in which existing rules for competition are disrupted and replaced by new regulatory frameworks, technological standards, and business models. These interruptions are referred to as institutional shifts. The study seeks to understand the role of specific actors in creating institutional shifts that drive an industry's institutional evolution process. Based on a study of the global solar industry over the period of 1982–2012, the findings suggest that the industry's institutional evolution was driven by an interplay of different public and private actors that influenced one another over time and across national borders. To create institutional shifts, companies employed a mechanism based on knowledge diffusion, while governments used a stimuli-based mechanism instead.