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As the new academic year approaches, OMT division’s new chair Royston Greenwood generously shared the visions he has for the division and provided his insight into our field.


Royston Greenwood

1. What are your goals and aspirations for the OMT division as the new incoming chair?

I have two main goals. One is to improve communication between our numerous members (OMT has over 4000 members and is one of the largest divisions in the Academy). One of the efforts that we are making is the revamping of our website, which is headed by Herich Greve (of INSEAD). Similarly, this new blog on the OMT webpage is also a great new channel for communication as well.

Another major goal is to come up with a better way to communicate with and serve our international members. We have had growing number of international members and they now account for a significant portion of the division – and one of the ways the division is trying to address this issue is by starting an International Task Force, led by Eero Vaara (of EMLYON). The goal of the task force is find out what the international members want and figure out how to implement the change that would benefit our growing international members. It’s a starting point in addressing this issue.

One last thing I’d like is to have more communications with doctoral students. Again, we have increasing number of students in our division and while we serve them well during the Academy with events such as doctoral consortiums, I’d like to continue to do so outside of the Academy.


2. OMT is one of the largest division in AOM -- what do you think is the role of OMT division in the Academy? Perhaps as a theoretical glue that holds all the other divisions together?

We’re the only division with the name that has ‘theory’ in the academy! But I’d be surprised if other large divisions like BPS or OB didn’t deal with any theory in their respective divisions. I think that OMT is pretty central in the Academy and connects with other divisions; theories we develop have implications in other division. For example, I’ve had a doctoral student from the Entrepreneurship division ask me, “How is OMT relevant for my research?” And immediately I had several major works from OMT – Deephouse on legitimation, to cite one – for him to turn to.


3. A major recurring theme in your research is organizational change. Which of today’s current events strike you as an interesting context to study organizational change?

I don’t think we know enough about how professionals behave in organization. Our belief of their behavior is too rosy! Look at past 5-10 years, and that rosy image is quite misleading. Arthur Anderson? What were they doing? Financial collapse? What was going on in the legal community? Organizations that should be promoting normative actions don’t always seem to be doing so.

Other areas I find interesting are institutional complexity, where different logics play in different org at different levels, such as professional firms and family firms, which must reconcile different norms. Also, what happened to organizational design? We ignore how organizations manage themselves. Today’s organizations are much more complex than 10-20 years ago and we still know such little about how they behave.


4. What do you think are the tradeoffs between focusing on theoretical versus empirical research? Would you recommend focusing on one over the other for graduate students starting their career in OMT?

No one should focus their career entirely on empirical research. [Our field has] gone too far with being pseudo-scientific and obsessing over methods. It’s easy to succumb to the idea that if an article uses elaborate methods then the finding must be somehow very important; but nothing is as powerful as a powerful ideas. We really need to showcase ideas rather than methodologies.


5. As one of the most successful scholars in the field, do you have any career advices for graduate students in OMT?

In my career I have been very lucky with working with other scholars. I personally am not a monastic scholar- I love working in research groups. One advice I have for students is to think of your career as a program of research. Have a program and not just any random topics because it will get published. You get more excitement building a research program, like the pieces that fit in a jigsaw puzzle. Research should be something that gives you personal excitement. I especially like doctoral students working with each other. The Academy is buzzing with energy from all the interaction – why not bring that over to research?


[Pr. Greenwood is Telus Professor of Strategic Management and the associate dean of Strategic Management and Organization department at University of Alberta.]


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