OMT WebOrganization and Management Theory Division of the Academy of Management
Earlier this year, the Journal of Management Studies featured two articles discussing the past, present, and future of organization theory: one by Michael Lounsbury and Christine Beckman, who celebrate contemporary efforts to build theory; and one by Jerry Davis, who calls for a shift in the way we think about organizational research as a tool to address social problems. All three authors were kind enough to sit down and share their thoughts with us about the role of organization theory (and organizational theorists!) in today’s world.
-Interview conducted by Madeline Toubiana and Michael Mauskapf
Madeline Toubiana and Michael Mauskapf: Mike and Christine, your paper is quite provocative and pushes the field to think about what we should research and how we should frame our findings. What inspired you to write this paper now, given that some of these critiques have been outstanding for some time?
Mike Lounsbury and Christine Beckman: As members of the OMT executive committee, we were charged collectively with supporting and developing OMT membership within the Academy. In one of the executive committee discussions, as we were discussing some of the outstanding concerns (e.g., relevance of OMT scholarship and lack of jobs for young OMT scholars), Forrest Briscoe wisely asked whether we had any data on these questions. This idea had come from Jerry, when he was leading the OMT executive committee. He had done an analysis of 2005 program data and job announcements that was published in JMI in 2006 (Mechanisms and the Theory of Organizations). This is where his critique of the relevance and fruitfulness of “theory” in OMT commenced in full bloom, and where he began to promote a mechanism-based approach to theorizing. As an aside, as part of his efforts on the OMT executive, he is also responsible for creating the Teaching Roundtables. These continue to be a very robust way to share knowledge about how to integrate OMT knowledge into a diverse array of courses from strategy, entrepreneurship, OB, leadership etc.
Nonetheless, it was the 2005 data and associated set of critiques that also provided the grist for subsequent critiques across the field, including his 2010 paper that we focalized in our effort to shift the narrative about OMT away from a near empty glass frame and towards one with a frothier mug. As social scientists, we thought it useful to re-examine these issues with fresh data. Christine took the lead in surveying former doctoral consortium attendees, then examining the program data from 2011. Our data and analyses suggested something very different from what Jerry had been arguing. Thus, the inspiration for our paper emerged from those analyses, and from a concern that the critiques promulgated by Jerry, and that had begun to uncritically spread, were not accurate and were based on an outdated view of the field. We wanted to share the vibrancy that we saw in the field and encourage young scholars to continue to frame, identify and invest in organizational theory research. As we document, our survey indicated that young OMT scholars do not seem to have big problems getting jobs, but their jobs have them teaching a wide variety of kinds of courses—a nod to the success of Jerry’s teaching roundtables! In addition, we argue that the theoretical conversations in OMT seem to be quite diverse and robust.
MT and MM: You discuss five promising theoretical domains in OT: institutional logics, categories, networks, performance feedback, and practice theory. Do you think these areas share some affinities that make them more generative for contemporary theory building? Is there one theoretical domain that each of you see as more promising than the others?
ML and CB: We chose the theories to highlight based on submission data from the Academy program. So these are five promising theoretical domains that are relatively well established and are drawing audiences at the Academy. Do they have greater possibility for theory building than other areas? Not necessarily. These are theoretical conversations that have built audiences and are engaged in a vibrant conversation. Perhaps what they have in common is an attempt to build and develop a set of theoretical ideas among a community of scholars. While some of these conversations have strong roots in the past, they are all important areas of new and continued growth in people and the generation of scholarly knowledge. One could certainly be critical of the knowledge being produced, but this was not our central aim. Our aim was to highlight that OMT’s rich theoretical heritage and generative capacity continues to be robust, and as OMT executives we have continually sought to nurture this capacity and encourage and support the flowering of variegated theoretical communities. Note the five theoretical conversations we highlighted were just examples, but there are many others that merit attention including institutional work, learning, routines, identity, and social movements, not to mention how our organizational theories are helping to expand our understanding of topics like entrepreneurship, corporate governance, inequality and the like.
MT and MM: Jerry, in your response, you highlight three problem-driven areas for research: where do jobs come from?; can supply chains be accountable; and can new technologies liberate us? What inspired you to choose these areas in particular, and are their others that you would encourage OMT scholars to investigate?
Jerry Davis: These three areas came up for me because they are pressing questions around the world right now. Research that addresses them can draw on ideas from OMT, and they are questions that have the potential to yield answers that might make a difference in the world. I also highlighted these three because they are questions that should be the subject of lots of OMT research, but have not been so far – perhaps because we have been too swayed by the demand for papers to contribute to theory.
We are living through a period of massive change in the organization of our economy and our society. In the US, public corporations are shrinking and disappearing, and along with them benefits like health care and economic security. The centripetal force that used to draw more and more transactions inside organizational boundaries has reversed, a process we might call “Nikefication.” For many activities, markets are replacing hierarchies. There is a market price for almost everything now, including specific components of what labor does. Careers were replaced by jobs, and now jobs are being replaced by tasks that can be contracted on demand (which we might call “Uberization”). Uber has 162,000 drivers in the US, but only 2000 actual employees; meanwhile GM has shrunk to the same size it was in 1928. And because of its cost advantages and convenience for consumers, there is an Uber emerging for everything, from rides across town to health care. The Uberization of labor markets is likely to lead to even more widespread economic insecurity, greater inequality, and limited mobility.
There are real, tangible, pressing problems to be solved, and OMT researchers have the tools to address them. Arguably, no other field is so perfectly placed to make sense of our current situation as OMT, given that it sits at the crossroads of so many diverse disciplines (sociology, psychology, political science, anthropology, economics and all the business school disciplines). It is therefore frustrating when we devote so much of our attention to things that might be considered frivolous, or at least not so pressing. The emergency room is not the right place for elective plastic surgery. We should be able to give confident advice to policymakers, activists, and businesspeople, grounded in research, to make sure that (for example) avoidable tragedies like the Rana Plaza disaster do not happen again, or employment practices do not impose rampant insecurity on the working class.
One area I would have added to this list is organizations and inequality. I’m happy to see that this domain is finally getting more sustained attention from organizational researchers. Hari Bapuji and Suhaib Riaz just published a very nice special issue of Human Relations on “Economic inequality and management,” and Adam Cobb has a new piece in AMR that can help organize this conversation. There are more conferences and special issues out there as well, but of course there is a lot more work to be done. I would also add that there is still plenty of room for work on social movements and organizations, and specifically how social justice issues are interpenetrating organizations. Mobilizing is a lot quicker and cheaper than it used to be, and the repertoire of contention keeps growing. Finally, new forms of work organization seem understudied, particularly the new workforce management systems that have turned retail and food services into a nightmarish panopticon that would make Frederick Taylor stammer.
MT and MM: You call for more problem-driven (rather than theory-driven) research, but this would disqualify the work from many of our field’s top journals, which is an especially risky proposition for junior scholars and PhD students. How would suggest we produce--and reward--this type of research?
JD: Here I would like to dispute the premise that problem driven research is risky and potentially unpublishable for younger scholars. Many of us share Don Hambrick’s concern that journals are too obsessed with a paper’s contribution to theory. This can lead authors to dress up mundane things that we already knew (“Who you know matters”) with a lot of theoretical mumbo-jumbo (“The embeddedness of social life in webs of socio-affective affiliations manifests itself in a panoply of outcomes”). The flip side of this is what Mike and Christine described, which is atheoretical data dredging. Just because you can download giant datasets and analyze them using fancy fixed-effects models doesn’t mean that you should, and just because you find statistically significant coefficients doesn’t mean that they add up to anything.
I find that reviewers (and even some editors!) are sympathetic to carefully-done research that addresses an important question even if it does not commence with 20 pages of dense theory leading to hypotheses to be tested. Ethan Bernstein’s dissertation study of a Chinese phone factory became an instant classic because it rigorously addressed a genuinely important problem, with a minimum of theoretical mumbo-jumbo. So: have a little faith in the review process, it may not be as bad as its reputation. If you are reporting important insights based on careful research on a worthy problem, reviewers are not going to torment you about your contribution to theory. They will, however, torment you (appropriately) about making good inferences based on your data, so go back and re-read your Cook and Campbell (1979).
MT and MM: You also mention the need for “good taste” in identifying social problems. What advice would you give PhD students or junior scholars on developing or refining such taste?
JD: I realize that talking about having “good taste” sounds snobbish (or as theory snobs would say, “Bourdieusian”). It might be more accurate to say “develop a good problem sense.” My old friend and mentor Mayer Zald had a fantastic problem sense: he had the ability to read the newspaper and find three fascinating research topics every morning. I always admired his capacity to say see a particular event as an instance of something bigger, to see it as an exemplar or an anomaly. That’s a quality of mind worth developing, to ask the question “What is this a case of?”, and it requires being steeped enough in the literature to be able to identify the relevant categories. And it’s not enough to just label something (“Aha: This store follows a panopticon institutional logic”): you want to go on to try to explain it, using the tools of the theorist. So, pay attention during your organization theory seminars.
I always liked C. Wright Mills’ description of social research as making sense of the intersection of biography and history in social structures. What are the tectonic shifts we are undergoing? What are the structures where they play out? How are they affecting peoples’ lives? One of the biggest shifts in our time is the radically lower cost of collaborating and engaging in collective action. When much of the population carries a smartphone that gives them instantaneous access to all the world’s knowledge (from the formula for kurtosis to how to deliver a baby), and the capacity to communicate with everyone else for free, social life changes in lots of ways, from how people hook up to how they work to how they engage in rebellion. There’s so much worth studying – don’t be stuck with Compustat!
MT and MM: Mike and Christine, you call specifically on PhD students to find their theoretical niche. What advice would you give them for learning how to flex their theoretical muscles, especially given the current publishing environment? What role do you see the OMT division playing in this regard?
ML and CB: There are many domains out there that are growing and have great promise. Check out some of the emerging areas. Christine (along with Robert David and Dick Scott) are organizing a PDW on Saturday morning at the Vancouver Academy meetings titled “Revitalizing Organization Theory.” In this session, there will be three panels each highlighting a different area where OT has great promise: big data, organizing outside organizations, and OT in understudied geographic contexts (Session 17699, 8:00-10:30 am, Saturday, August 8, Convention Center 214). Jerry (and Paul Adler) have a session on Friday titled “Alternative Economic Futures” (Session 11949, 1:00-3:30 pm, Convention Center 011). In addition, on Friday from 4:30-6:00 at the Vancouver Convention Centre (room 118), right before the Meet OMT Social, there is a session organized by Jo-Ellen Pozner and Emily Block, OMT New and Returning Member Networking and Research Forum, that we encourage everyone to attend. That session will have a variety of roundtables staffed with prominent scholars to discuss issues related to publishing and careers across varied theoretical areas of focus.
We believe that more important than the particular topic or theoretical perspective is bringing an OT theoretical sensibility and an engagement in the world we live in. The publishing environment goes through phases and fads. The OMT division has been hosting and co-sponsoring paper development workshops around the world (for details, go to: omtweb.org). They are focused on supporting junior faculty and doctoral students at Academy and beyond. The new executive committee will continue their efforts to support the membership in other ways, but certainly we suspect this will continue to be the core objective of the division. We hope that in 10 years time, we will find ourselves as the counter-point to the next set of debates about how to unlock the full potential of organization theory scholarship.
MT and MM: More generally, what might the “gatekeepers” of OT do to bridge the two “world views” you cultivate in this dialogue? Should journals (and hiring/tenure committees) support both kinds of research as separate but equal/complementary; or are we better served by integrating them?
JD: Journals and promotion committees shape the kind of research that gets done by what they reward, so if we want to get to Pasteur’s quadrant, it might take a conspiracy among deans, editorial boards, and accrediting bodies to define who and what it is we think management research is for. Left on our own, we will have no trouble filling pages of journals, and we will evaluate each others’ work according to our own internal criteria (is it interesting, are the methods sound and the inferences valid, does it contribute to theory). But we might want to consider who our constituencies are and what they need. “Managerial relevance” used to mean “Middle and upper managers at Eastman Kodak can benefit from this,” but that’s not such a useful model now. Should we be aiming to benefit the people who write the employee monitoring and scheduling algorithms for Starbucks, or the brogrammers running Uber and its ilk? Or are our obligations to a broader constituency? (For a longer rant on this topic, see http://asq.sagepub.com/content/60/2/179)
ML and CB: Although a point/counter-point format suggests we are on opposite sides of a debate, we agree more than we disagree. We are all great supporters and believers in organization theory – having all been trained as organizational theorists and having committed five years of professional service to serving on the executive committee. We have all thought deeply about the health and growth of the field. Problem-based and theory-driven research are both important. We see them as different pathways into the same question. The best research will inform both the world and develop our theoretical understandings. Without theory, our empirical findings lack the deep understanding of the how and why that is required to be useful in the world. This is consistent with Jerry’s calls for a focus on mechanisms. Without problems, our theories are abstractions that lack grounding. We want theories that describe and inform the world we live in. So, without question, we should try to integrate them. This is the holy grail in Pasteur’s quadrant: “fundamental knowledge inspired by use”. But we will not always succeed on both dimensions simultaneously, and as editors and members of hiring and promotion committees, we should cut papers a little slack that tackle really important problems or add deep theoretical insight. But that doesn’t mean we don’t try to do both.
MT and MM: What is it you would want current or potential OMT members to take-away from this conversation regarding the current state and direction of OT?
ML and CB: OMT IS THE PLACE TO BE! As a field, we have the tools and the curiosity to address important problems in a deep and meaningful way. We don’t want to sit out on solving those problems or engaging in those debates with other disciplines because we are focused inward on whether our field is thriving. Instead, take your OT tools, develop new ones, and ask interesting and important problems about the societies we live in. There will be an audience (and a job) for people that do that well.
JD: Completely agree with Christine and Mike: OMT is the place to be!
This year’s OMT Doctoral Consortium, co-organized by Forrest Briscoe (Penn State) and Peer Fiss (USC), saw a large number of applications and an exceptionally strong pool of nominees. For the first time this year, the event was run as an independent OMT Division consortium, and we were able to include 45 diverse doctoral students from around the world. In addition, more than 20 faculty members generously donated their time and expertise to make the consortium a success.
The event started Thursday night with the traditional cocktail hour and dinner at Todd English’s bluezoo restaurant, followed by a full day of activity on Friday that included panels on doing great research, managing your career and having an impact, and preparing for the job market. This year the consortium saw even more time allocated to small-group research roundtables organized using project proposals that participants submitted in advance. These roundtables provided an opportunity for detailed feedback and close dialogue with established scholars and other participants sharing common interests. The program also included a message from AMD Associate Editor Chet Miller about the newly established Academy of Management Discoveries journal.
In mid-afternoon, the Doctoral Consortium joined up with the OMT Junior Faculty Consortium for teaching roundtables, organized again by David Touve (Washington and Lee U.), Chair of the OMT Teaching Committee.
This event was generously sponsored by Emerald and USC’s Marshall School of Business.
Interview by Jochem Kroezen (Rotterdam School of Management) and Shilo Hills (University of Alberta).
The 2013 OMT Division's Best International Paper Award went to Daniel Wäger (Kellogg School of Management/Amsterdam Business School) and Sébastien Mena (Cass Business School) for their paper: “The Diffusion of Contested Practices across Environments: Social Movements’ Boundary-Bridging Role”. Congratulations to the winners! In this interview they reflect on the paper and winning the award.
Could you briefly describe what the paper is about?
DANIEL: The paper is about how transnationally connected social movement activists drive the cross-national diffusion of a corporate practice. We look at how the corporate governance practice 'Say on Pay' (granting a consultative vote to shareholders on a company's top management remuneration policy) has made its way from Anglo-Saxon countries to Switzerland between 2008 and 2012. We show that the pressure of transnationally connected activists was crucial especially for the initial introduction of 'Say on Pay' to Switzerland, whereas later on, local institutional pressures arose that led to the further spread of Say on Pay among Swiss companies. The adoption of 'Say on Pay' was strongly opposed by the top management of the corporate elite in Switzerland. Corporate governance in Switzerland has traditionally been controlled by this elite group, whereas shareholders have been largely marginalized and the state has instead focused on the self-regulatory efforts of corporations. Over the past 15 years, however, three parallel developments have strengthened the role of shareholders in Swiss corporate governance: First, the constitution of Ethos, a central shareholder activist organization whose members are recipients of Swiss pension funds and are in favor of improving Swiss companies' performance regarding environmental, social and corporate governance issues. Second, the development of a transnational shareholder activist infrastructure through platforms such as the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), whereby shareholders from different places around the world pool their shares together in order to push for changes regarding companies' environmental, social and corporate governance performance. And third, an explosion of the percentage of Swiss companies' shares that are held by foreign (especially US and UK) investors, who are much more inclined to engage in shareholder activism than traditional Swiss investors. In the largest Swiss companies, foreign investors hold up to 50-60% of the shares. Hence, when Ethos pushed for the adoption of 'Say on Pay' at Swiss companies, the support of allied transnational investors could be relied upon, which led to a tipping of the balance in favor of this transnational coalition of shareholder activists.
The Best International Paper Award celebrates work that deals with themes and settings that are of interest to an international audience. How does your paper appeal to an international audience?
DANIEL: I think that the paper appeals to an international audience in two ways: First, it looks at how a local corporate practice travels across national boundaries. Second, and maybe more interestingly, it points to what social or political embeddedness can mean in the age of globalization. While during the post WWII-period companies were socially and politically embedded in a national community, many researchers have argued that globalization has led to a dis-embedding of companies, which have become ever less dependent on their non-mobile national communities. Our paper shows that social embeddedness does not have to be confined to a national space. Transnationally connected activists can lead to social embeddedness at the transnational level.
SÉBASTIEN: I think that our paper also speaks to several different internationally-focused sub-disciplines and audiences. Like the activists of our paper, I believe the topic of our paper manages to cross boundaries between disciplines. It has obvious implications for international business, as most of the companies in our study have international operations. It also speaks to the importance of international shareholders in corporate governance. And of course, it speaks to diffusion and transnationality of institutional processes and to transnational social movement research.
How did you come up with the idea for the paper?
DANIEL: This paper is part of a research project of Seb and I about shareholder activism and corporate governance. That research project is constituted of two articles, which are part of my dissertation. This paper is the second article of my dissertation. The first dissertation article examines how the role identity of pension funds was translated from the US to Switzerland over the past 30 years. Through this successful translation of the pension fund role identity away from mere holders of shares and towards conceiving of themselves as co-owners of companies, Swiss pension funds moved from being passive elements to becoming active participants in the governance of Swiss companies. We wanted to examine whether this change in the role identity of pension funds also had real consequences for Swiss companies. Hence, in the present paper we show how Swiss pension funds - together with their transnational allies - push for the adoption of a corporate governance practice.
SÉBASTIEN: The genesis of the whole research project stems really from the common interest Daniel and I share in social movement activists and societal change. I remember Daniel looking for a fitting research context for his dissertation and we had discussed several times one of the current issues in our country: the (excessive) remuneration of executives and the apparent prodigious changes brought on this issue by a shareholder activist organization - Ethos.
Do you have any interesting anecdotes about the data collection process for the paper or about other parts of the research process?
DANIEL: Well, the paper is certainly a great example of how the end of your dissertation should NOT look like. So, I had to hand in my PhD-thesis mid-November 2012. By mid-May 2012 we did not have one single data point. The following 6 months were…. a bit of a rush.
SÉBASTIEN: Since we had to get information from annual reports manually, we now know that BlackRock (a US investment firm) basically owns corporate Switzerland. We were quite impressed by the amount of shares of Swiss corporations they own.
What is the most surprising finding of the paper? What are the implications of your findings for practice?
DANIEL: The paper points to the importance of politics and power in the transnational space: when activists manage to connect across borders and put their resources and strengths together, there can be important consequences for the traditional balance of power between corporate elites and their stakeholders in local settings. For the reality of companies this means that it is not enough to monitor the evolution of their proximal institutional environments, but that they have to be prepared to deal with socio-political changes that have their origins in remote places far beyond their sphere of influence. In this sense, the paper is a great example of how globalization has enhanced the complexity that companies are exposed to in the environments they are operating in.
SÉBASTIEN: Again, I think you can look at the paper from a lot of different angles and derive different implications. So, for example, I believe that our paper provides guidance to firms when it comes to dealing with shareholder activists. It also provides quite a lot of implications for successful shareholder activism. The paper also highlights important issues when it comes to policy and corporate governance laws and self-regulation.
Were you surprised by the critical acclaim for the paper? What does this prize mean for you?
DANIEL: The prize is a huge honor. It is a great feeling to get recognition from your peers for your academic work. I really did not expect to win the prize – I was all the more excited when Candy informed us that we had won!
SÉBASTIEN: It is definitely a great honor to be the recipients of this award, especially when it comes from your own community of scholars - OMT. And of course, as with every piece of work, it's never quite 'finished', so it's surprising, and great as well, to be recognized in this way.
2013 Best International Paper Award Sponsor
Chair’s Message -- Christine Beckman, University of California Irvine, introduces this issue of the OMT Division newsletter, highlights the latest OMT news and events, and explains what the OMT officers have been up to recently. Read More...
For a recap of the Academy Meetings in Boston, check out Michael Lounsbury's Program Chair Conference Report, the Doctoral Consortium Report by Eva Boxenbaum, and the OMT Business Meeting presentation. We've launched an OMT Facebook page. Please help us get to 100 likes, and while you are there check out the nearly 100 photos from Boston, plus our photo archive of past OMT Artifacts!
One of the many wonderful OMT traditions is an interview of the distinguished scholar by the winner of the OMT best dissertation award. Please be sure to read the interview with the 2012 Distinguished Scholar Linda Argote by Louis Pondy Dissertation Award Winner Kaisa Snellman. (If you missed her presentation, it is available through Slideshare, along with presentations from some past distinguished scholars and OMT Business Meetings!)
After giving us Adventures in OMTLand, Candy Jones has moved on to be the Program Chair, so please help her by signing up to review for OMT and by sending in terrific papers and symposiums come January. Read more...
David Touve, the Teaching Committee Chair, provides an update that includes new Academy initiatives...
Joe Broschak, Research Committee Chair, announces the Chairs for the 2013 Best Published Paper Award...
Keep an eye out for the formal call for applications for our annual PDW workshops. Peer Fiss and Forrest Briscoe will be organizing the Doctoral Consortium. Martine Haas and Chris Marquis will be organizing the Junior Faculty Consortium. I will be organizing the Dissertation Proposal Workshop.
The OMT Blog is also the place to read great original content. Evelyn Micelotta (Alberta) and Mia Raynard (Alberta) put together an interview with 2012 Best Published Paper Award winner Edward (Ned) Smith and another article on tips for the job market. Diane-Laure Arjaliès (HEC Paris) and Mia Raynard (Alberta) put together a fascinating and in-depth interview with Roger Friedland. And Marco Clemente (HEC Paris) interviewed 2012 Best International Paper Award winners Joris Knoben, Tal Simons and Patrick Vermeulen. The Communications Committee is always looking for more help. If you'd like to get involved, email Joel Gehman, our Communications Committee Chair.
Upcoming OMT-Sponsored Workshops
Henrich Greve and Philip Anderson have organized a workshop on Organization Theory and New Venture Creation, January 5-6, 2013, in Singapore.
Stewart Clegg, Antoine Hermans, Emmanuel Josserand, Danielle Logue, Markus Hollerer, Hokyu Hwang, Jaco Lok and Gavin Schwarz have organized a workshop on Organizing Practices, April 4-5, 2013, in Syndney Australia.
Diane Burton, Lisa Cohen, Michael Lounsbury have announced a workshop on The Structuring of Work within and across Organizations, July 6-7, 2013, in Montreal, Quebec.
John F. Padgett and Walter W. Powell have published a book: The Emergence of Organizations and Markets, Princeton University Press, 2012.
Israel Drori, Shmuel Ellis and Zur Shapira have also published a book: The Evolution of New Industry: A Genealogical Perspective, Stanford University Press, 2013.
Scott Newbert is editing a special issue of the Journal of Social Entrepreneurship.
Thank you to our 2012 AOM sponsors!
Distinguished Scholar Award and Breakfast Sponsors
OMT/MOC Doctoral Consortium Sponsor
Best International Paper Award Sponsor
Best Published Paper Award Sponsor
Best Empirical Paper on Environmental and Social Practices
For sponsorship information, contact Christine Beckman, OMT Division Chair.
Thank you to everyone who made the Boston OMT program fun and intellectually engaging! We had a record number of submissions (695!), many exciting sessions, and ample opportunities to catch up with old and meet new colleagues and friends (Meet OMT, our post-business meeting social, and first ever Monday night after-party!). More than ever, OMT is the place to be!
Linda Argote provided a splendid Distinguished Speaker presentation (click here for photos from the event and a copy of her presentation), providing insights into her intellectual journey as well as where research on organizational learning and knowledge transfer is heading.
At the business meeting, I presented data on our paper submissions (click here for the complete OMT Business Meeting presentation). OMT is one of the most internationally-oriented Academy divisions with around 60% of submissions coming from outside North America. In fact, the highest percentage of submissions this past year came from Europe (43%). This is the first year that European submissions have outpaced those from the United States, although there remains relative balance in European and North American submissions.
The growth of European participation in OMT has been explicitly seeded by our strategic efforts to develop a partnership with EGOS and to sponsor OMT paper development workshops for doctoral students and young scholars in Europe over the past couple of years. The paper development workshops—with HEC and ASQ in Paris, with the Judge Business School, EGOS, Sage Publications and Organization Studies in Cambridge, and with Bocconi and Academy of Management Journal in Milan—have been particularly successful in recruiting new and reaching out to extant international members. Partnering with Insead and ASQ, we will also seek to reach out to Asia members in Singapore in January 2013.
With regard to the content of submissions, Institutional Theory submissions continue to dominate, with research on networks and embeddedness, learning, adaptation and routines, and behavioral theory/decision making providing other theoretical domains receiving substantial numbers of submissions. Topically, corporate governance and strategy, institutional logics and complexity, identity and categorization, and innovation and creativity were most salient. The topic of institutional logics and complexity exhibited the most growth in submissions compared to last year (56 vs. 44), and according to data on keywords chosen by our reviewers, this topic is now the dominant focal point for those interested in institutional theory. With regard to regional variation, the one interesting observation is that European submissions are greater than North American submissions (52% vs. 43%) on the topic of institutional logics and complexity, while it is the reverse (59% vs. 30%) for the topic of identity and categorization. I encourage you to look at the slides for more detail.
OMT continues to be the division where the top scholarly work is presented. For the third year in a row, OMT took top honors with the Carolyn Dexter Award for best international paper presented at the AOM (click here for photos of all the award winners). Read an interview with Ned Smith, winner of the best published paper award. There are also updates on the Doctoral Consortium and Teaching Roundtables.
Thank you for your participation in the OMT program, and please remember to renew your membership, submit your best papers and PDW and symposia ideas, and sign up to review for OMT. It is only with your continued engagement and participation that incoming program chair Candace Jones will be able to design another great program. We look forward to seeing you in Orlando next year!
Mike Lounsbury2012 OMT Division Program Chair
Tags: Conference Report | Mike Lounsbury | Program Chair
On Monday, August 6, the OMT Division held its annual business meeting. Speakers included Matt Kraatz, Christine Beckman, Mike Lounsbury and Candace Jones. The Division's membership statistics were reviewed, details of submissions and acceptances to the annual meeting were discussed, and many awards were announced. For photos of the event, visit the OMT Division Facebook Page.
If you missed the meeting, or simply want a refresher, download the 2012 OMT Business Meeting Presentation on Slideshare.
Tags: OMT Business Meeting | Presentation
In Boston, nearly 100 OMT members of the Academy, including doctoral students, junior faculty, and experienced faculty mentors, gathered for the OMT Teaching Roundtables. At each table, one of 12 faculty mentors managed a discussion around a course in their portfolio, with the set of courses for discussion spanning organization theory, entrepreneurship, leadership, strategy, and more--at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
These OMT Teaching Roundtables complement the junior faculty and doctoral student consortia, adding an additional version of "T," as in Teaching alongside Theory, to the "T" in OMT.
We continue to add syllabi to the TeachOMT.com website. So please feel free to email David Touve (
) with any course syllabus you would be willing to share. In the near future, we will also add interviews from OMT members willing to share their insights and expertise in the classroom.
David TouveChair, Teaching CommitteeSeptember 15, 2012
Tags: David Touve | Teach OMT
On the morning of August 6, 2012, Linda Argote became the latest recipient of the OMT Division Distinguished Scholar Award. A number of former Distinguished Scholars were on hand, including Dick Scott, Paul Hirsch, Andy Van de Ven and Howard Aldrich. For photos of the event, visit the OMT Division Facebook Page.
After a very warm and heartfelt introduction by PDW Chair Candace Jones, the room was treated to Linda's talk on Learning about Organizational Learning.
Linda is the David M. Kirr and Barbara A. Kirr Professor of Organizational Behavior and Theory and Director, Center of Organizational Learning, Innovation and Performance at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1979 and a B.S. from Tulane University in 1975.
Since 1980, the Organization and Management Theory Division has been presenting the Distinguished Scholar Award to scholars whose contributions have been central to the intellectual development of the field of organization studies.
The 2012 Distinguished Scholar Award and Breakfast was sponsored in part by the University of Alberta School of Business and Oxford University Press.
Tags: Distinguished Scholar Award | Linda Argote | Organizational Learning
This year's OMT / MOC Doctoral Consortium was organized by Eva Boxenbaum (Mines ParisTech), OMT Division Rep-at-Large, Shelley Brickson (Illinois-Chicago), MOC Division Rep-at-Large, Frances Fabian (U. of Memphis), MOC Division Rep-at-Large, and Peer Fiss (U. of Southern California), OMT Division Rep-at-Large.
More than 20 faculty volunteered their time and expertise. And 45 doctoral students from around the world participated after being selected from an exceptionally large pool of nominees. The event started Thursday night with a cocktail hour and dinner at Restaurant Avila in Park Square, Boston.
Friday's agenda kicked off with a keynote on engaged scholarship by Majken Schultz (Copenhagen Business School); She kindly stepped in with two days notice to replace Mary Ann Glynn, who was held back by family illness. The keynote was followed by dissertation roundtables where 15 OMT and MOC scholars gave feedback to groups of three doctoral students. Prior to lunch, we heard from Gerry Davis (U. of Michigan) on the publishing process. After lunch, Renate Meyer (WU Vienna) spoke on the topic of being an organizational researcher in Europe, followed by Colin Fisher (Boston U.), who provided an insider’s guide to the US job market. In mid-afternoon, the Doctoral Consortium joined up with the Junior Faculty Consortium for teaching roundtables, organized by David Touve (Washington and Lee U.), Chair of the OMT Teaching Committee.
Colin Fisher has kindly made his slides and his original 2009 job package available on the 2012 OMT / MOC Doctoral Consortium Google Site.
This event received a helpful sponsorship from Emerald.
Tags: AOM | doctoral consortium
Note: On Monday, August 6, 2012, at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting in Boston, Candace Jones, OMT Division PDW Chair, introduced Professor Linda Argote as the 2012 OMT Distinguished Scholar. Below is the text of her introduction.
by Candace Jones
I have the distinct honor and pleasure of introducing Linda Argote as the OMT Distinguished Scholar. We all know Linda is an amazing and accomplished scholar. A brief look at google scholar will show you citation and publication numbers that many of us can hardly imagine, let alone achieve.
I asked colleagues for insights into what made Linda tick, her influence on them and here is what I learned:
I learned she is married to Dennis Epple. I had no idea!
An important lesson from Linda is not to worry that you will give a party and no one will come; it’s important to have good ideas and it’s important to take the risk of putting them those ideas out there.
Linda has a remarkable ability both to synthesize an area of research and to chart important new directions. She also has the courage to take risks. Committing to produce a work like Organizational Learning: Creating, Retaining and Transferring knowledge requires not only a great deal of talent and hard work but the courage to chart a new path.
Linda has an authentic love for scholarship and ideas. Her work always serves ideas and for the long run. This allows her to avoid traps that distract so many others.
Her work is programmatic; she has sustained interest in a topic: learning, knowledge transfer and group dynamics. Her work is also interdisciplinary. Linda is the modern day embodiment of the Carnegie tradition.
Being a successful Editor-in-Chief of Organization Science similarly requires courage — to assume responsibility, to make key decisions, to undertake new initiatives. She also ran a complex, decentralized organization like a well-oiled machine — an amazing job of coordination.
Linda also apparently lives her research; when she first moved to Carnegie Mellon she bought her first car — a Volkswagen Rabbit with a stick shift. This is noteworthy because Linda had never driven a stick shift so she had a crash course (without any real crashes) in learning by doing.
She has a charming tendency to misquote familiar sayings, as in “that is water over the bridge” and she takes the perspective of the other, including inanimate objects.
Linda grew up hearing her mother’s mantra “Organization is salvation.”
Linda is more than just an amazing scholar. She is a warm and generous person, who is an exemplary role model not only for women but for all scholars.
Linda mentors junior faculty in the full sense of the word: she looks at your papers, she keeps in touch, she looks out for your best interest. “I always trusted that she had my interests in mind.”
She is exemplary for building community; she has a talent for pulling people together.
Linda is influential for young scholars because she is doing research for the right reason — to advance knowledge, and because she is a great mentor. Her approach to scholarship is an encompassing endeavor, and doing it well involves taking care of the people with whom she works.
Tags: Candace Jones | Distinguished Scholar Award | Linda Argote | Organizational Learning
On Monday night at the OMT Business Meeting, Edward "Ned" Smith received the OMT Best Published Paper Award. This is the third time the award has been handed out. Ned's paper -- Identities as Lenses: How Organizational Identity Affects Audiences’ Evaluation of Organizational Performance -- was published last year in Administrative Science Quarterly.
Other finalists for the award were:
Edelman, Lauren B., Linda Krieger, Scott Eliason, Catherine Albiston and Virginia Mellema. 2011. When Organizations Rule: Judicial Deference to Institutionalized Employment Structures. American Journal of Sociology, 117: 888-954.
Fauchart, E. and Gruber, M. 2011. Darwinians, Communitarians and Missionaries: The Role of Founder Identity in Entrepreneurship. Academy of Management Journal, 54: 935-957.
Scherer, A. G. and Palazzo, G. 2011, The New Political Role of Business in a Globalized World: A Review of a New Perspective on CSR and its Implications for the Firm, Governance, and Democracy. Journal of Management Studies, 48: 899–931.
Whiteman, G. & Cooper, W.H. 2011. Ecological Sensemaking. Academy of Management Journal, 54: 889-911.
The winner was determined by a special committee, headed by Bob Hinings. Members of the committee included:
The OMT Best Published Paper Award is sponsored by Sage Publications.
Once again, OMT is the place to be... Below are just a few of this year's must see events:
Meet OMT SocialFriday, Aug 3 2012 6:00PM - 8:00PMat Sheraton Boston Hotel in Constitution Ballroom B
OMT Distinguished Scholar BreakfastMonday, Aug 6 2012 8:00AM - 9:30AMat Sheraton Boston Hotel in Independence West
OMT Business MeetingMonday, Aug 6 2012 6:30PM - 7:30PMat Sheraton Boston Hotel in Independence West
OMT Social HourMonday, Aug 6 2012 7:30PM - 9:00PMat Sheraton Boston Hotel in Back Bay Ballroom D
OMT After PartyMonday, Aug 6 2012 9:00PM - 1:00AMat Back Bay Social Club in the downstairs bar867 Boylston St., http://www.backbaysocialclub.com/A cash bar with fine mixology and a late dinner menu will round out the fun.
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