OMT WebOrganization and Management Theory Division of the Academy of Management
The Center for Leadership and Social Responsibility at the Milgard School of Business, University of Washington Tacoma is pleased to announce its fourth annual research conference, July 11-12, 2013 in Tacoma, Washington, USA. Conference website: http://www.tacoma.uw.edu/clsr/academic-conference
or call 253-692-5685 with questions about the conference.
2013 OMT Award Winners
The OMT Research Committee recently completed the process of selecting winners for the OMT paper and symposium awards that will presented at the 2013 Academy of Management Annual Meeting. Awards are given in five categories: (1) best paper, (2) best paper from a doctoral dissertation (Pondy Award) which will be the OMT division’s nominee for the Academy’s Newman Award, (3) best symposium, (4) best international paper which will be the OMT division’s nominee for the Academy’s Dexter Award for best paper that internationalizes the Academy of Management, and (5) best Empirical Paper on Social and Environmental Practices sponsored by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship.
Nominees were identified based on the ratings of OMT reviewers. Then subgroups of Research Committee members had the honor of reading each award-nominated paper or symposium in one of the five categories and voted on their picks for the most outstanding work submitted to this year’s AOM conference.
Congratulations to all of the award-winning and nominated paper and symposia authors listed below! The formal announcement and presentation of OMT Division’s awards will take place in August, on Monday night, at the OMT Business Meeting in Lake Buena Vista (Orlando), Florida. We hope you will join us at the OMT Business Meeting to celebrate the winners.
The OMT Business Meeting and Social Hour is also the perfect time to find out more about the OMT Research Committee, which is staffed by a dedicated group of OMT volunteers. Be a part of recognizing the excellence of OMT scholarship. Join the OMT Research Committee!
OMT Division Best Paper Award
“Social Distancing from Journalists Who Engage in Negative Coverage of Firm Leadership”James Westphal – U. of Michigan; Guy Shani – U. of Michigan
“Rubik’s Dilemma: Partial Knowledge and the Efficacy of Learning”Hart E. Posen – U. of Wisconsin, Madison; Dirk Martignoni -- U. of Zurich; Markus Lang – U. of Zurich
“Crime and Punishment: The Reputational Consequences of Withdrawal from VC Syndicates”Pavel Ivanov Zhelyazkov – Harvard Business School; Ranjay Gulati – Harvard Business School
“Moving from an Exception to a Rule: Analyzing Mechanisms in Emergence-based Institutionalization”Jeannette Colyvas – Northwestern U.; Spiro Maroulis – Arizona State U.
Louis R. Pondy Best Paper Based on a Dissertation (also AOM Newman Award nominee)
“The Illusions of Power”Murad Mithani – Stevens Institute of Technology
“Confused by the Middle: Status, Acquisition Advisors, and their Opportunism in Acquisition Premium”Yonghoon Lee – INSEAD
“Reunited: Exploring the Performance Effects of Newcomers’ Tie Reactivation”Massimo Maoret – Boston College
“Female Entrepreneurship and Alternative Career Advancement Inside the Firm”Aleksandra Kacperczyk – MIT
OMT Division Best Symposium
“Organizationally Diverse Capitalism: Exploring Alternatives to 20th Century Corporations”Suntae Kim – U. of Michigan
“Halos and Horns: Understanding Corporate Reputations for Social and Environmental Responsibility”Jenna P. Stites – Penn State U.; Barbara Gray – Penn State U.
“The Behavioral Theory of the Firm: The First 50 Years and the Next 50 Years”Vinit Desai – U. of Colorado, Denver; Chengwei Liu – U. of Warwick; Peter Madsen – Brigham Young U.; David Maslach – Florida State U.
Carolyn Dexter Nominee (OMT’s nominee for AOM Best International Paper)
Winner/Officially nominated paper:
“The Diffusion of Contested Practices across Environments: Social Movements’ Boundary-Bridging Role”Daniel Waeger – HEC U. of Lausanne; Sébastien Mena – U. of Alberta
“How Entrepreneurs Become Strategic Cultural Operators”Florian Ueberbacher – U. of St. Gallen; Claus D. Jacobs – U. of St. Gallen
“Evaluating Negative Evaluation: An Experimental Investigation of Category Spanning”Nathan Betancourt -- U. of Lugano; Inga J. Hoever – Erasmus U.; Jeroen Kuilman – Tilburg U.; Filippo Carlo Wezel – U. of Lugano
“Intentionality and Institutional Work: Emergency Physicians as Institutional Guardians”April Wright – U. of Queensland; Ray Zammuto – U. of Queensland
Best OMT Empirical Paper on Social and Environmental Practices (sponsored by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship)
“Be Fair or Care? Fairtrade and the Standardization of Ethical Practices”Juliane Reinecke – U. of Warwick; Shaz Ansari – U. of Cambridge
“Caught in the Revolving Door: Firm-government Ties as Determinants of Regulatory Outcomes”Ivana Katic – Columbia U.; Jerry W. Kim – Columbia U.
“Responses to Institutional Defiance: How Media Frames Alter the Rate of Sanctions”Thomas H. Allison – U. of Oklahoma; Matthew G. Grimes – U. of Alberta; Aaron Francis McKenny – U. of Oklahoma; Jeremy Collin Short – U. of Oklahoma
Best Published Paper Award
OMT first began honoring the Best Published Paper in Organization and Management Theory in August, 2010. In 2012, a committee of distinguished OMT scholars, chaired by C.R. (Bob) Hinings, Professor Emeritus of Strategic Management and Organization at the University of Alberta, named Ned Smith’s (U. of Michigan) 2011 paper, “Identities as Lenses: How Organizational Identity Affects Audiences’ Evaluation of Organizational Performance,” Administrative Science Quarterly, Volume 56, Number 1: 61-94, as the winner.
This year the Best Published Paper Committee is being co-chaired by Jane Dutton (U. of Michigan) and Mary Ann Glynn (Boston College). The committee is hard at work choosing the best paper in OMT published in 2012. Please join us at the OMT Business Meeting when we will reveal which paper published in 2012 wins!
Q: How do I become a member of the OMT Research Committee?
Approximately forty OMT division members annually volunteer their time as part of the Research Committee and are placed on one of five sub-committees. Research Committee members are asked to read and rank the three to five papers or symposia that have been nominated, working in a very compressed time frame, usually near the end of February and the beginning March. In some years committee members are also asked to participate with other tasks, such as the selection of the Martin Trailblazer Award winner. Nearly every year some new members are added to the Research Committee as long-serving members who have provided this valuable professional service to the division for many years cycle off. If you want to be a part of selecting which papers and symposia win awards, please volunteer. The requirements are that you are an active reviewer for the OMT division and that you can commit to being available during the time we review papers for awards. Simply contact Joe Broschak, University of Arizona, via email (
) or phone (520-626-0464), to join. Better yet, stop by and talk to Joe at the Meet OMT Social, the OMT Business Meeting, or the OMT Social Hour in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. After all, OMT is the Place to Be!
2013 OMT Research Committee Members
My sincere thanks go out to the all the OMT members who volunteered to be part of the 2013 OMT Research Committee. They make my life easy and provide a wonderful professional service by evaluating all of the potential award winners. As you can see below, the Research Committee represents a broad sample of OMT’s membership. Please consider joining the committee next year as a volunteer!
Report submitted by:
Joe Broschak Associate Professor of Management University of ArizonaEller College of Management405 McClelland HallTucson, AZ 85718
Tags: OMT awards | Research Committee
Call for Nominations: 11th Annual OMT Dissertation Proposal Workshop
The Dissertation Proposal Workshop aims to improve the focus and framing of research questions, identify and address methodological issues, and/or constructively critique conceptual foundations. Discussions may also address process issues like managing your dissertation committee, and completing the dissertation. The workshop consists of roundtable discussions between faculty and doctoral students working on dissertation proposals in the scholar’s area of expertise.
The dissertation proposal workshop is for students who have completed preliminaries and have selected a dissertation topic but have not yet defended their dissertation proposal. If you have a 50-page proposal with data, well-defined hypotheses, and a committee, you are probably too late. On the other hand, if you have not narrowed your ideas beyond a broad theoretical or phenomenological space, you are probably too early.
Deadline for Nominations: May 31, 2012. Attendance is limited to 27 students, so early application is advised.
For complete details, visit the Dissertation Proposal Workshop page.
Tags: AOM Annual Meeting | call for applications | dissertation proposal workshop
Call for Applications: 2013 OMT Junior Faculty ConsortiumAugust 9, 2011(Application deadline: May 15, 2013)
The OMT Division is pleased to invite applications for the 2013 OMT Junior Faculty workshop. If you have started a faculty position in the last few years, this workshop is for you! The workshop focuses on three areas: First, on developing your research for publication with the help of seasoned scholars in your area; second, on strategies for impact and growth as a scholar and teacher, and third, on navigating the early years of building a successful faculty career in diverse institutional settings. You will have a chance to interact with an exciting team of Faculty Fellows and diverse peers through developmental feedback on your research, panels, roundtable discussions and informal conversations.
For further details visit the Junior Faculty Consortium Workshop page.
Tags: AOM Annual Meeting | call for applications | junior faculty consortium
Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies (EEMCS) is the resource of choice for management educators worldwide for easy access online collection of quality peer-reviewed teaching cases about all aspects of business and management in the developing and emerging markets.
Do you have a business and management story related to any aspect of doing business with or in an emerging economy? Will it help shape business students into local and global leaders? We invite you to submit your teaching case to EEMCS.
Publication in EEMCS allows you to share your tried and tested cases with faculty and students in the top institutions around the world. EEMCS delivers swift and detailed reviews of submitted cases and ensures broad international dissemination upon publication.
Detailed guidelines on how to write and submit a case study for potential worldwide publication in the collection are available at: www.emeraldinsight.com/products/case_studies/index.htm
All case submissions should be made via ScholarOne:
For further information contact Jamie Allen
European Group for Public Administration 2013
11 - 13 September 2013, Edinburgh, Scotland
Permanent Study Group: Public Administration, Technology & Innovation (PATI)
Call for papers: Technology & Organization
This year’s main theme is technology and organisation. We are looking for contributions that deal with the ways how technology (not limited to just ICT) influences how organisations function (management structures, tasks, autonomy, coordination practices, accountability systems, etc). We are looking for both theoretical and empirical papers. Empirical papers can include both current and historical case studies that deal with technology and public sector organisations, and both current and historical comparative studies of how technology may influence private vs public organisations.
Deadlines for submission
Deadline for online submission of abstracts proposals: 15 May 2013
Deadline for decision and selection by the co-chairs: 1 June 2013
Deadline for submitting the complete papers: 5 August 2013
More information: http://www.egpa-conference-2013.org/
Submissions to be made at: https://www.conftool.pro/egpa2013/
For questions, please contact Dr. Erkki Karo:
2013 The Medici Summer School in Management Studies The Medici Summer School in Management Studies, Florence, June 9-14, 2013 We are pleased to announce the organization of the 5th edition of The Medici Summer School in Management Studies for doctoral students and young researchers which will be held in Florence, June 9-14, 2013. The School is sponsored in collaboration with organizing faculty from Alma GS (University of Bologna), HEC School of Management, and Stern School of Business (New York University). The Summer School is designed to promote doctoral education and research in management studies and contribute to the development of enlightened practice in the management of business organizations. Over the past several years, the Summer School has been a unique educational program for qualified doctoral students interacting with thought leaders in the management field who have shared their knowledge and wisdom on frontier research topics. The Summer School combines lectures and research seminars by international scholars with an active engagement of participant students. In the past four editions, the School has become a regular appointment to promote cutting edge international research and teaching in management studies. The title of the 2013 edition is: Internationalization strategies: old questions, new contexts The Summer School combines lectures and research seminars by international scholars with an active engagement of participant students. Confirmed faculty members: - Steve Tallman, E. Claiborne Robins Distinguished Professor in Business, University of Richmond - Torben Pedersen, Professor of Business Administration, Department of Strategic Management & Globalization, Copenhagen Business School - Xavier Martin, Professor of Strategy, International Business and Innovation, Tilburg University - Tatiana Kostova, Buck Mickel Chair and Professor of International Business, Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina - Sinziana Dorobantu, Assistant Professor of Management and Organizations, Stern School of Business, New York University Other faculty members who will “stop by” during the week: - Gino Cattani (NYU) - Rodolphe Durand (HEC Paris) - Simone Ferriani (University of Bologna) - Gianni Lorenzoni (Alma Graduate School) - Marcello M. Mariani (University of Bologna) - Zur Shapira (New York University)
The 2013 Summer School will begin on Sunday, June 9 with a welcome dinner. Closing session will be on Friday, 14 June. The venue for the Summer School will be the beautiful La Pietra International Conference and Events Center, which is New York University's satellite campus in Florence, Italy. La Pietra is a stunning 57-acre estate located in the foothills overlooking Florence.
Application procedure The School will admit 20-25 student participants. Applications for these slots are welcomed from current Ph.D. students in Management and related disciplines from universities worldwide. Students for the Summer School will be selected in accordance with the quality of their doctoral curricula, research interests, and application materials. There is no application or participation fee. Student participants will be responsible for their own long distance travel expenses to and from Florence, but the Summer School will cover all accommodation and board expenses during the week of sessions provided that students attend the entire week. The deadline for applications is April 1st, 2013. Admitted candidates will be notified by April 15. A waiting list of other candidates will be established. Full program and all further details can be found at: http://www.medicisummerschool.it/ or http://www.societyandorganizations.org/category/medici-summer-school/
Università degli Studi di Bologna
Dipartimento di Scienze Aziendali
Via Capo di Lucca, 34
40126 Bologna - Italia
With the consent of Jim March and the support from OMT division, we developed an on-line voting tool (using ‘All Our Ideas’) for finding out the top questions people want to ask Jim on the 50th anniversary of ‘A Behavioural Theory of the Firm’. We have developed 13 questions in the voting pool (Full list: http://tinyurl.com/AskJimMarch).
Feel free to add your favourite questions to the pool by using ‘Add your own idea’ on the voting website or by email Chengwei Liu (
Here is what you need to do to contribute to the questions that will be used for interviewing Jim:
First, log on ‘http://www.allourideas.org/interviewjimmarch’ and begin voting! You will be presented with randomly selected pair-wise comparisons of the questions from the pool. Keep voting for as long as you like!
Second, feel free to select ‘I can’t decide’ in cases such as you don’t like either question.
Third, forward this email or the link to your colleagues and let them have their say on this issue!
In case you have any question, please email Chengwei Liu (
). We will interview Jim on 28 March 2013 and announce the result in due course - with highlights to be aired in Orlando at a symposium celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the publication of ‘A Behavioural Theory of the Firm’.
We thank you for your attention and participation!
Organized by Chengwei Liu, Vinit Desai, Peter Madsen, and David Maslach
Tags: Behavioral Theory of the Firm | Jim March
Editor's note: These remarks were delivered at a memorial service held at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, February 9 in the Rogel Ballroom of the Michigan Union building at the University of Michigan. To see other memorial remarks, visit: http://omtweb.org/omt-blog/main/477.
Michael Cohen was my friend. He was more than that, of course. He was my colleague, my collaborator, my teacher, my student, my muse, my model. He was a perfect scholar – smart, thoughtful, careful, precise, supportive of others, modest about himself. I knew him as a doctoral student, one of those rare students who move immediately into your mind with intimidating ideas. I knew him as a co-author of a book that could not have been done without him. I have on my office wall a copy of his very early computer printout of a three dimensional graph of data from that book, a beautiful picture of not-so-beautiful data on college presidents. I knew him as a companion in a year of work and play in Norway and Denmark, a year that changed my life. I knew him as a co-teacher of a course on Aristotle. I knew him as a co-author (with Johan P. Olsen) of a paper on garbage cans that has achieved a certain notoriety. I knew him as a frequent, wise commentator on papers. I knew him as the de facto older brother to our two younger sons. I knew him from an unplanned voyage with our wives on the Greek Mediterranean. I knew him as a loving husband and doting father. He gave meaning to the designation of a mensch. He was loved by everyone who knew him. He was loved by me.
James G. MarchProfessor EmeritusGraduate School of BusinessStanford UniversityStanford, California
Tags: Garbage Can Model | Jim March | Michael Cohen
Editor's note: These remarks were delivered at a memorial service held at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, February 9 in the Rogel Ballroom of the Michigan Union building at the University of Michigan. To see other memorial remarks, visit: http://omtweb.org/omt-blog/main/477.
It is common knowledge here that Michael Cohen was a very special human being. Not only is that well understood in general terms, but there is a list of his specific virtues that is also widely acknowledged. As we have all struggled to cope with this loss, in this past week, I have been struck by the power of this consensus about him, how effectively people can evoke the person they knew, and how clear it is that it was indeed the same remarkable person that they all knew. Even the appraisal of him as the embodiment of typical Midwestern virtues, his California background notwithstanding, came to me from more than one source.
Since there is little profit in a recitation of common knowledge, what to do? One might try reaching for stronger superlatives: A supreme intellect, a virtual Superman of gentleness! What, a Superman of gentleness? I think super-sizing the superlatives is not the way to go, or at least not evidently my particular talent. I will reach instead for some resonant memories.
If the records do not lie, I was a colleague of Michael’s at the Institute of Public Policy Studies, predecessor of the Ford School, for a mere 5 semesters in 1973-75. Thinking about that today, it is incredible to me that our time as actual colleagues was that short, considering the durability of the connection formed. We had offices on the same hallway in the IPPS quarters on East Liberty Street. We had in common our enthusiasm for the IPPS mission and for the Carnegie School traditions that strongly shaped it. We had other shared enthusiasms … such as the idea of using computer simulation as a vehicle for theory, and also the aspiration to do interdisciplinary social science. Leaving Ann Arbor was painful for many reasons, but the truncation of the developing relationship to Michael was a major one.
Fortunately, we encountered each other in a number of conferences and workshops over the years, and especially so in recent decades. This was largely because of our shared interest in organizational routines. There were several small workshops of the kind where serious interdisciplinary conversation could take place. These events were held in a number of not-so-bad locales, such as Santa Fe, Laguna Beach and Nice, -- not to speak of Ann Arbor and Philadelphia. I recall these occasions with special pleasure and gratitude.
I remember Michael’s great value as a participant in such conversations, and particularly his talent for expressing skepticism in a helpful way. He would identify the logical weakness, the parochialism, the overstatement, or occasionally the ignorance, in a presentation or argument. As he did so, you saw the fabric of his character in one single piece … the fabric woven of the high intelligence, the learning, the serious-mindedness, the ever-constructive attitude … and then, always, the generosity, the gentleness and the humor. Or perhaps I should say, the playfulness. There was that twinkle of laughter and enthusiasm that frequently came into his eye. It said, “I’m really enjoying this and I trust you are enjoying it too.” That image is the one that will always be with me when I remember him.
Now, I think of myself as having reasonably good manners in the seminar room, at least when I’m talking. When I’m just listening, however, my inner agitation can become evident when I don’t like what I’m hearing. One day I was sitting beside Michael in one of those workshops and displaying such symptoms of distress. Michael leaned over and showed me his laptop screen, where he had brought up a Peanuts cartoon. Lucy is lecturing Linus about a little tree, while Charlie Brown looks on. Lucy says, “This is a palm tree. It’s called that because I can put my palm around it.” Charlie Brown makes a nauseated face and says, “My stomach hurts.”
That cartoon cured my own gastric distress of the moment, and it has been therapeutic in many similar episodes in the years since. It established Michael in my mind as my personal guru of the Zen of scholarly battle, not just in the workshop or seminar context, but in all its many forms.
Certainly I followed his guidance in many other domains, and particularly on the individual psychology of organizational behavior … a topic on which I happen to have a Michael-inspired, and strongly Michael-assisted, paper forthcoming. The last of that valuable assistance was received from him in the now long-ago month of December.
As I look around the country and the world today, I am repeatedly struck by the propensity to self-destructive behavior exhibited by the human species. Deep down, most of our collective problems are not so difficult; they are manageable. But instead of managing the problems, we seem to employ our expanding knowledge to discover new paths to self-inflicted pain.
To manage the problems, we need of course to understand the relevant policies and their complexities. In his teaching and research, Michael helped in building that detailed understanding.
We also need a deeper and more generic understanding of human behavior itself. Particularly in recent years, that was the path that Michael took in his research.
But is that enough? Isn’t the fundamental problem that we actually have need of “a better class of human beings” to make this planet the garden that it could be? As a solution, that may be close to “assume a miracle”, but not quite. History has shown us some examples of that “better class”, and the collective power of such examples shapes the future. Michael is one such example -- but now we have lost him to a problem that is not self-inflicted, and not yet in the class we know how to solve.
His influence will outlast the pain we now suffer at his loss; we can all ride the waves and currents of his special kind of humanity.
Sid WinterDeloitte and Touche Professor Emeritus of Management The Wharton SchoolUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
Tags: Michael Cohen | Sid Winter
I am grateful for this honor to join with you in celebrating the life of Michael Cohen. I would like to tell you about some of his recent research activities and what it was like to work with him directly.
In 2007, I was invited me to teach a doctoral course in qualitative research methods at the University of Michigan. I accepted and temporarily moved to Ann Arbor. To my surprise, Michael Cohen decided to sit in on my class—something that is unusual because professors are so busy, especially someone of Michael’s stature. After the first class session, I remember bumping into a friend on campus who said, “Hey, I hear that Michael Cohen is taking your methods course.” I replied, “That’s right. I don’t yet know where he’s taking it, but yes, he’s taking it.” However, my concerns were unnecessary because Michael was both a genius and a gentleman. He had a special knack of asking questions that pointed people in the direction of a keen insight—letting them get there first.
Soon I became aware of Michael’s expertise in organizational routines, including his specific interest in handoffs within medical settings. Most of the medical mistakes that harm patients involve some sort of miscommunication. And miscommunications often occur during handoffs—such as during a shift change, when an outgoing physician transfers information about and responsibility for a patient to an incoming physician. At the end of my fall semester in Ann Arbor, Michael and I drove to Kingston, Ontario, where we met with Dr. Roy Ilan, and we were eventually given permission to videotape real physician handoffs being conducted within the ICU of a university hospital—something that (to our knowledge) no one had ever done before. Roy joined our research team and helped us to record about 250 physician handoffs. A year later, we welcomed Marlys Christianson, who worked as a practicing physician before coming to the University of Michigan to earn a PhD in organization studies. Eventually, Lyndon Garrett also joined our efforts. Although Lyndon was only an undergraduate student at Brigham Young University, working as my research assistant, Michael recognized his intelligence and respected his dedication, and he graciously drew Lyndon into full collaboration. We called ourselves the “Kingston team,” and Michael has been a mentor and friend to all of us.
We decided to meet at least twice a year, usually in Kingston, so that we could analyze our video data together. Fortunately for me, it’s not easy to travel to Kingston. In fact, the quickest and cheapest way for me to get there is to drive from Detroit to Kingston, which takes about 7 hours. Once or twice each year, I flew to the Detroit Metro Airport. After collecting my bag, I would make my way to “passenger pick-up” where I would see Michael, always punctual, standing with a warm smile, a ready hug—the trunk of his car already open. After pulling away from the curb, Michael would tell me about some current and complex system—the weather, the traffic, airport operations or communications—something that had threatened (but failed) to make him late. And his tellings were always laden with public policy implications. Then we would drive for 7 hours each direction. How he tolerated being with me in such a confined space for 14 hours, twice each year, I will never know. For him, it must have been the emotional equivalent of Apollo 13. But so it was and I will be forever grateful because I had some of the most engaging conversations of my life.
First, with Michael there was no such thing as idle chatter. We never listened to music or the radio: We always talked, and I had to keep my wits about me. Michael’s mind was remarkably steady and methodical as he took deliberate and measured inroads into worthwhile issues. Over a 7-hour period, my thoughts and comments were often triggered by what I was seeing out the window. When I got hungry, my political opinions became more extreme. Depending on the condition of the roads, even my religious convictions were flexible. More than once, Michael gently pointed out that what I was saying at 3 PM was inconsistent with something that I had stated at 9:30 that morning. Or he would observe that our conversation had now come full circle and that we were now merely retracing our steps.
Second, it became clear that Michael is prepared to engage on any subject. And I mean any. Rather than me give you an example, I invite you to simply think of some topic—and there’s your example of something that Michael would be prepared to discuss. Two years ago December, my father died unexpectedly. When I met Michael three weeks later for our semi-annual drive to Kingston, the topic of my father’s death naturally came up. Michael knew all about it because he had read online articles and reports, not only about my father’s death but also about his life. During our heartfelt conversation, I shared with him my family’s faith in life after death, and our belief that family relationships and friendships are so precious that they will continue after death. With a twinkle in his eye, Michael responded, “Well, that’s a beautiful notion. And I’m grateful that no one has proven otherwise.”
Although Michael was prepared to engage on any subject, family was his favorite. Very early, we came to understand that I have 2 daughters who are identical twins, while Michael has 2 daughters and his wife Hilary is an identical twin, and most recently two precious granddaughters have joined his family. This “2 x 2 x 2” was like a conversational “Rubik's Cube” that allowed for endless turns at talk. We discussed each of these women individually, and then each of them in relation to each other, which also gave us entry into conversations about genetics, genealogy, sociology, philosophy and public policy. Until today, I had never met his daughters (Rachel and Amy), nor their partners (Matt and Laura), nor the little grandbabies (Hazel and Sylvia). But as I now see you, I feel well acquainted with you. It was obvious that Michael loved you profoundly.
I wish that everyone here could have seen Michael during our meetings in Kingston. Each member of our research team brought different strengths to the table, and then Michael worked to magnify them. Surgeons have a saying: “The Resident holds the knife while the Attending turns the table.” That’s how I would describe Michael’s influence. We were all better because he was with us, subtly turning the table to guide our collaboration. We were an interdisciplinary team, somewhat separated by the dialects of our disciplines, except that Michael was fluent across our discourse, which helped to facilitate our analysis, insights and writings. Michael has long been fascinated by what he called the “pattern in variety problem”: For a routine to be recognizable as a routine, it must have an element of “sameness”; yet routines must be adapted to fit the particular needs of the moment, such as when patients are hanging in the balance. Last year, our team had a couple of publications in leading medical journals, and this year we have a letter already in press. We have a few papers in our research pipeline that will appear in top social science outlets. Last year, when we were tired at the end of a long day, Michael leaned over a whispered: “What we are doing will save some people’s lives.” He brought passion to our work. I honestly did not know until two days ago that Michael had officially retired last year—he never said anything to me about it and I didn’t notice any change in the pace of his work.
I’m speaking to you today, not because I’m special. I’m speaking to you because I’m typical. I’m typical of the dozens or hundreds or thousands of people that Michael has influenced and mentored. Since Michael’s passing last week, I have received many emails from people who wanted to make sure that I had heard the news. One particular email resonated deeply with me, so I asked the author’s permission to share a couple of sentences with you. She gave me permission to share, though she wanted to remain anonymous. She wrote:
"Michael’s role in helping me carve out and pursue my own scholarly path was profound, both intellectually and personally – he was my “rock” in rough waters and a great mentor for almost two decades. Because of the depth of my feelings about his value to me personally, I have not been comfortable adding anything to the public (online) memorials, nor will I attend the memorial service in Ann Arbor."
For many people, including some who are not with us today, Michael’s passing is literally unspeakable.
We love you Michael.
Curtis D. LeBaronWarren Jones FellowAssociate Professor of Organizational Leadership & StrategyMarriott School of ManagementBrigham Young UniversityProvo, Utah
Tags: Curtis LeBaron | Michael Cohen | Routines
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