The Organisational Theory & Information Systems group focuses on organisational theory and the dynamic relationship between information technologies and organisations. The range of research interests crosses individual, group, organisational levels of analysis in developed and developing country contexts.
The group focuses on:
Organisational and institutional creation, maintenance and change
Information systems and organisational change
Group behaviour in organisations
Corporate social responsibility
Knowledge translation and service innovation
People and organisational effectiveness
Strategic and international human resource management
Entrepreneurship and innovation
The group is engaged with cross-disciplinary themes including health management, financial services, public sector, international development, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Barrett, Michael Professor of Information Systems & Innovation Studies, Director of Research
de Rond, Mark Professor of Organisational Ethnography, Head of the Organisational Theory & Information Systems Subject Group
Grimes, Matthew Reader in Organisational Theory & Information Systems, Co-Director of the Entrepreneurship Centre
Haugh, Helen Senior Lecturer in Community Enterprise, Research Director of the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation
Group members have published widely in leading journals, including Academy of Management Journal, MIS Quarterly, Administrative Science Quarterly, Journal of Applied Psychology, Organization Science, Personnel Psychology, Human Resource Management, Organization Studies, and Research in the Sociology of Organizations as well as theory outlets such as the Academy of Management Review.
A number of the group members have editorial appointments in leading journals in their research areas.
The research agenda of the group is stimulated by regular contacts with senior personnel of large national and international organisations such as Cadbury, Rolls Royce, Oracle, British Telecom, BAE Systems, Sealed Air, Daikin, Samsung, Matsushita, SIAM, Infosys, TCL, Unilever, ABB, Proctor and Gamble, Siemens, Total, EDF, American Express, Shell and International Business Machines (IBM), Statoil, Bank of China, UK Government, Cambridge University Hospitals, World Health Organization, UNICEF.
There are long-standing collaborations with leading academics and cognate groups in the UK, Europe and across the Atlantic.
The Organisational Theory & Information Systems subject group hosts a seminar series of distinguished visiting scholars. Please contact Luke Slater if you would like to be added to the mailing list.
In their recently published book Dreams of the Overworked: Living, Working, and Parenting in the Digital Age, Melissa Mazmanian and co-author Christine Beckman offer vivid sketches of daily life for nine families in Southern California, capturing what it means to live, work, and parent in a world of impossible expectations – expectations amplified by smart devices. In this book, the reader is invited into the homes and offices of these working professionals in order to witness the crushing pressure of unraveling plans and celebrate how people – through a web of social “scaffolding” – support each other’s dreams. This book challenges the seductive myth of the individual with phone in hand, doing it all on their own. This ideal didn’t capture the reality of everyday life, even before the pandemic hit. In truth, beneath the veneer of technology is a complex, hidden system of support – our dreams have always been scaffolded by retired in-laws, friendly neighbors, spouses, schools, and paid help. This book makes the case for celebrating the structures that allow us to strive for our dreams by supporting new public policies, challenging workplace norms, reimagining family and community, and valuing invisible work on the home front. In this talk, Dr Mazmanian will provide an overview of the book and preview a journal article that examines how families respond to work demands that assume everyone should be an Ideal Worker.
Melissa Mazmanian is an Associate Professor of Informatics at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences and Associate Professor of Organization and Management at the Paul Merage School of Management (joint) at the University of California, Irvine. Her interests revolve around the use of technology in personal and organisational contexts, specifically in relation to co-ordination, interpersonal dynamics, and the nature of personal and professional time in the digital age. Melissa has published in Organization Science, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Annals, MIS Quarterly and ACM venues such as CHI and CSCW. She earned her PhD in Organisation Studies from the MIT Sloan School of Management and Masters in Information Economics, Management and Policy from the University of Michigan, School of Information. She serves as a Senior Editor for Organization Science.
I will present early stage work that revisits my early research on the spread of recycling in universities (Lounsbury, 2001) to understand how the instantiation of activist recycling co-ordinators in the 1990s shaped the subsequent development of sustainability programmes. Drawing on the literature at the interface of social movements and organisations, we show how insider activists, seeded by the recycling movement, expand organisational opportunity structures in ways that enhance receptivity to a subsequent movement. We document that the expansion of opportunity structures relied on building a field-wide community of practice that provided social and technical support for localised efforts to deepen, stretch and expand recycling practices in ways that enhanced receptivity to sustainability across their university communities. These efforts were often more mundane and under the radar, and rarely involved efforts to agitate. Implications for the study of insider and outsider activists, and the study of how social movements can affect organisational change are discussed.
Professor Michael Lounsbury is the Canada Research Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Alberta School of Business. His research focuses on the relationship between organisational and institutional change, entrepreneurial dynamics, and the emergence of new industries and practices. In addition to serving on a number of editorial boards, Professor Lounsbury is the series editor ofResearch in the Sociology of Organizations. He has previously served as Chair of the Organization and Management Theory Division of the Academy of Management. His PhD is in Sociology and Organization Behavior from Northwestern University.
12:00-13:30, 11 February 2020 Room W4.03, Cambridge Judge Business School
Drawing on an ethnographic study of decision-making in a rape crisis centre characterised by institutional complexity, I follow the work of institutional logics in interactions. While decision-making interactions were structured by logics that dominate the organisation, decision-making does not merely reflect given institutional logics, but rather serves as occasions for their reconstruction. Participants translated institutional logics into concrete stories that define problems, roles and solutions. These stories were co-authored by participants, while negotiating which institutional logic is relevant to the issue, and how this logic implicates how to understand, evaluate and react to it. While narrators were creative in translating institutional logics into stories, they were also limited by an expectation of coherence between logics, the subject positions and interests of narrators and the role the stories assign to narrator and recipients. Acknowledging the way institutional logics come to life through interactions necessitate a new conceptualisation thereof, one that emphasises their emergence, and complements current understandings of institutional logics as either deterministic or strategic resource easily manipulated by actors. It also highlights the role of storytelling, translation, and power relations in bringing institutional logics into effect.
Professor Tammar B. Zilber (PhD, the Jerusalem School of Business, the Hebrew University) is interested in how organisations operate in light of their embeddedness within shared meaning systems (institutions) and how people negotiate these meanings on the ground, as part of their daily work, or as they strive to create, maintain, and change institutions. By inquiring into the micro foundations of organisational, field and societal level institutional dynamics – such as change, maintenance, translation, and the work of logics – Tammar highlights the role of meanings, emotions and power relations in institutionalisation processes. She uses qualitative research methods and has written on narrative research, field level ethnography and multimodality. Tammar serves as an associate editor at the Academy of Management journal. She also serves on the EGOS board and has been a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley, MIT, Boston College and UC San Diego, and a research fellow at Gothenburg University.
12:00-13:30, 13 March 2020 Room W2.02, Cambridge Judge Business School
This presentation addresses a question of institutional change with a particular focus on the role of the building as a site of contestation and a place where the conflicts over the nature and extent of institutional change are played out. I draw on my ethnographic study of the UK Parliament, specifically the restoration of the Palace of Westminster, in an attempt to answer two questions: How do various actors use buildings to drive or resist institutional change? To what extent are the workings of the UK Parliament as an institution intertwined with the buildings and their current design? I locate the study in the theoretical framework of institutional disruption (Lawrence & Suddaby, 2006; Rodner, Roulet, Kerrigan & Lehn, 2019) and draw on the concepts from organisational geography and sociology of the place. I attempt to capture the notion of “the ghost of the place” (Bell, 1997), how it is created, maintained and disrupted, and I throw some light on the social magic (Bourdieu, 2014) sustained by the physical surroundings.
Because the restoration of the Palace of Westminster has not happened yet, the analysis will remain in the realm of possibility. In line with the sociological approach of “possibilism” (Appadurai, 2013; Mica, 2018; Mische, 2009), I intend to understand the perspective of institutional actors surveying the future in terms of multiple possibilities, in contrast to the commonly adapted perspective of the institutional actors who interpret the past.
Sabina Siebert is Professor of Management at the Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow. Her research interests include institutional change, organisational trust and distrust, and organisations and professions. She employs a range of qualitative methodologies including discourse analysis, narrative analysis and organisational ethnography. She researched an ancient profession – Scottish advocates (a paper based on this study was published in the Academy of Management Journal). She has been an academic fellow of both the UK Parliament and the Scottish Parliament. In collaboration with Barbara Czarniawska, she is also researching the careers of secret service agents drawing on spies’ biographies.
The Digital Prism: Transparency and Managed Visibilities in a Datafied World Professor Mikkel Flyverbom, Copenhagen Business School
The Organisational Theory & Information Systems subject group regrets that this seminar has been cancelled.
Digital technologies expose everything we do, like and search for, and it is difficult to remain private and out of sight. How can we as individuals, organisations and societies, deal with these technological and social transformations? Seen through the prism of digital technologies and data, our lives take new shapes and we are forced to manage our visibilities carefully. Meanwhile, many people are concerned about the unchecked powers of tech giants and the hidden operations of big data, artificial intelligence and algorithms and call for more openness and accountability. The Digital Prism: Transparency and Managed Visibilities in a Datafied Worldis a book that challenges common ways of thinking about transparency, and argues that the management of visibilities is a crucial, but overlooked force that influences how people live, how organisations work, and how societies and politics operate in a digital, datafied world. The book has just been published by Cambridge University Press.
Mikkel Flyverbom is Professor and Director of the Digital Transformations Platform at the Department of Management, Society and Communication, Copenhagen Business School. He is also a Research Fellow at the Center for Information Technology and Society at the University of California, Santa Barbara, a columnist for the Danish newspaper Politiken and a frequently consulted expert on tech issues.
A Macro Perspective on Status Dynamics: the Hollowing and Hallowing of the Haute Couture Category Professor Déborah Philippe, University of Lausanne
The Organisational Theory & Information Systems subject group regrets that this seminar has been cancelled.
Unlike prior organisational status research that has dedicated significant attention to the dynamics underlying status-based market interactions and the potential sources of alterations in actors’ status positions, we examine the status dynamics of an entire field. Building on the categorical nature of many status orders and using a case study of the French high-end fashion field, we investigate, in the context of an evolving status order, the categorical work taken to enact and preserve a category’s status over time. This setting is characterised by a sophisticated, stratified system of categories and key actors actively contributing to the construction and alteration of these categories. Focusing on the haute couture category since 1911, we show how, over time, the field’s main professional association attempted to juggle two imperatives that became increasingly at odds: maintaining the category status and ensuring the category’s survival. Our findings contribute to the status literature by showing how status orders can be purposefully altered by the actors immersed in them. Our study also contributes to research on categories by showing that the categorical work at the level of one category affects and is affected by the work of other actors at other levels of the category system. Finally, we show how a category can be repurposed to maintain its viability, thereby contributing to recent debates on the persistence of categories.
Déborah Philippe is Professor of Strategy in the Faculty of Business and Economics of the University of Lausanne. She holds a PhD in strategy and management from HEC Paris (2009). Her primary research interests lie at the intersection of organisation theory, economic sociology, and strategy. She investigates the role of social evaluations (i.e. status, legitimacy, reputation, and stigma) in shaping organisations’ strategic behaviour. Specifically, she looks at organisations’ strategic behaviour to manage social evaluations and at the impact of these social evaluations on inter-organisational dynamics.
12:00-13:30, 11 October 2019 Room S3.04, Cambridge Judge Business School
Everyone has received help at work that, in actuality, was not very helpful. Yet, organisational researchers have developed theories of helping that fail to account for help that misses its mark. To build theory on how attempts to help go astray, we conducted a qualitative study at a leading design consultancy, using data from daily diaries and weekly interviews from four project teams and a separate sample of critical incident interviews. We use this data to theorise unhelpful help – times in which givers agree to help, but instead deliver something receivers do not value. We argue that unhelpful help emerges through two mutually reinforcing processes. The first is shaping help content, in which givers and receivers use conflicting logics to arrive at the nature and extent of the assistance. The second is managing identity concerns, in which givers use help to affirm their own identities, while receivers seek to minimise the extent to which help threatens their identities. These processes are interrelated – tactics used to manage identity concerns impede efforts to shape help content. Moreover, the tacit nature of helpfulness evaluations makes it difficult for parties to correct the process as it unfolds. These factors perpetuated unhelpful help, leading unhelpful helping processes to erode receivers’ relationships with givers and the organisation. We conclude by discussing how these findings contribute to theory on helping, prosocial behaviour, and interpersonal coordination in organisations.
Colin M. Fisher is an associate professor of Organisational Behaviour at University College London. His research deals with leading, helping, and coaching teams and individuals in situations requiring collective creativity, improvisation, and effective decision-making, with a focus on how temporal issues (for example, timing, rhythm, development over time) shape group processes and outcomes. His research has been published in leading journals, such as Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Academy of Management Perspectives,Small Group Research, and Harvard Business Review. Colin received his PhD in Organisational Behaviour from Harvard University. In his work as a professional jazz trumpet player, Colin was a long-time member of the Grammy-nominated Either/Orchestra, with whom he toured the US, Europe, and Africa and recorded several critically acclaimed albums.
12:00-13:30, 23 April 2019 Room W2.01, Cambridge Judge Business School
The study, co-authored with Innan Sasaki, University of Lancaster, examined how the subjective perception of history shapes how organisational leaders think and act in Japanese ultra-century firms – collectively known as shinise – in the Kyoto area. The findings point to how, in these managers, a heightened sense of history was reflected in the simultaneous mobilisation of the three temporal orientations, induced by a felt obligation to preserve the past while at the same time ensuring its continuity in the future. The combined effect of these orientations resulted in a particular pattern of agency, characterised by what they described as farsighted self-restraint and bounded imagination, whereby managers subjectively experienced history as a set of boundaries and resources shaping their engagement with past, present, and future as they consolidated traditional trajectories of action or explored new ones.
Davide Ravasi is Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the UCL School of Management, University College London. His research examines interrelations among organisational identity, culture, and strategy in times of change. He is interested more generally in cultural processes influencing how new objects and new practices come to be, and whether and how they are adopted by individuals and organisations. Materiality, craft and design have a special place in his heart. His works have appeared on Administrative Science Quarterly, the Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Organization Science, Organization Studies, and the Journal of Management Studies, among others. He is a co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Organizational Identity, and currently serves as Chair of the OMT Division of the Academy.
11:45-13:30, 23 May 2019 Fadi Boustany Lecture Theatre, Cambridge Judge Business School
Expertise is central to today’s knowledge economy. Yet as experts increasingly move between work contexts to perform their jobs, the translation of expertise across distinct contexts remains less understood. Building on a relational view of expertise, we examine how changes in work configurations – here, relational disconnects between experts and their core audience – might affect the nature of expertise. Through an inductive study of puppeteers’ move from “stage” to “screen” (namely, an expert-audience disconnect), we show that while all puppeteers drew on comparable basic skills to perform, puppeteers in stage relied heavily on audience interactions to gain recognition. By contrast, puppeteers in screen gained recognition by showcasing their technical proficiency. The latter understanding of expertise as a readily-accessible proficiency was also associated with a critical shift in learning practices – from learning via experimenting with audiences to learning by repeatedly training individually – and reinforced by the nature of work patterns in screen contexts. As puppeteers’ labour market shifted and they came to perform more work disconnected from their core audience, the nature of expertise shifted as well. More broadly, we argue that expertise should not be viewed as a static construct and that novel work configurations can gradually shape the essence of expertise. We discuss implications of these findings for expert work in organisations and beyond.
Michel Anteby is an Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business and (by courtesy) Sociology at Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences. Prior to joining Boston University (BU), Michel taught in master, doctoral, and executive programs at the Harvard Business School and the Yale School of Management.
His research looks at how individuals relate to their work, their occupations, and the organisations they belong to. He examines more specifically the practices people engage in at work that help them sustain their chosen cultures or identities. In doing so, his research contributes to a better understanding of how these cultures and identities come to be and manifest themselves. Empirical settings for these and other inquiries have included airport security officers, clinical anatomists, factory craftsmen, and university professors.
Michel’s research has appeared in journals such asAdministrative Science Quarterly,Ethnography,Organization Science,Social Science & Medicine, andSociologie du Travail. He also is the author of two monographs: an ethnography of the Harvard Business School titledManufacturing Morals: The Values of Silence in Business School Education(also available in French and Chinese) and a study of illegal factory production titledMoral Gray Zones: Side Productions, Identity, and Regulation in an Aeronautics Plant. His work was recognised by BU’s Slatkin Family Fund award, NYU’s Herman E. Krooss award and the David M. Graifman Memorial award. He also is a recipient of the Donald & Valerie Ruth Honerkamp fellowship, a Susilo fellowship, and a Marvin Bower fellowship.
12:30-14:00, 11 July 2019 Room W4.03, Cambridge Judge Business School
Ralph Hamann will draw on 20 years of studying Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and related themes in South Africa, focusing on recent publications and work with widely – perhaps wildly – diverging temperaments. In the critical register, they argue that CSR has been used as a smokescreen to mask deeper, exploitative organisational behaviours. So, while mining companies have been among the most prominent in making “corporate social investments” in health and education in neighbouring communities, such efforts were scant fig-leaves in comparison with a hundred years’ history of exploitative labour practices. More recent strategies to play a more positive role in community development have led to failure – in some instances, tragedy – because business-government interactions progressively dissipate the social responsibilities of both the government and business. In contrast to all this critique, they will then report on current work-in-progress, which explores why and how some corporations seek to build community resilience as a relatively novel strategic ambition that explicitly recognises their interdependence with social-ecological systems. Apart from these arguments themselves, they look forward to discussing how such widely varying registers might be possible – they might reflect different times, settings, or organisations, for instance, or they might merely reflect a split personality of the researcher.
Ralph Hamann is Professor and Research Director at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, where he also directs the School’s PhD programme. His research and teaching is on why and how organisations create or address complex social-ecological problems. Rated an “internationally acclaimed” researcher by the National Research Foundation, he has published in diverse outlets including Journal of Business Venturing, Journal of Management Studies, and Organization Studies. Among his other roles, he is an executive editor of Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development; South Africa lead at the Embedding Project (which received the inaugural International Impactful Collaboration Award from the Academy of Management), and is Co-Founder of the Southern Africa Food Lab (for which he received UCT’s Distinguished Social Responsiveness Award). He has held diverse visiting positions, most recently as Pearson Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship and Engineering at Brown University. In collaboration with the CJBS Impact Forum.
12:00-13:30, 9 October 2018 Room W4.03, Cambridge Judge Business School
The study of hybrid organisations, which combine previously incompatible logics within a firm, has emerged as an area of interest for scholars interested in how new (de novo) organisations can address social and environmental problems in an economically sustainable manner. However, the survival of such ventures has not yet been systematically examined. This study examines the impact of sector density, competition from diversifying de alio firms, and regional institutional logics – regionally bound, socially constructed meaning systems that legitimise specific practices and goals – on the persistence of hybrid ventures. Drawing on a unique, multi-year panel of entrants into the green building supply industry, the results show regional economising and ecologising institutional logics moderate: a) the impacts of sector legitimation and competition effects, and b) the ability of de novo hybrid entrants to compete against diversifying incumbents. Research finds that ecologising logics intensify legitimation and dampen competition effects, while economising logics have the opposite influence. Consistent with prior studies, hybrid ventures in this context are largely outlasted by diversifying incumbents. However, in regions with complex institutional logics, that is where both economising and ecologising logics are present, the study observes that hybrid entrants can achieve competitive parity with incumbents. The study integrates research on population ecology, institutional logics, and is one of the first to examine the strategic consequences of new venture hybridity.
Dr Jeffrey York is an Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, Research Director for the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship, and Shane Faculty Scholar at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He received his PhD from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. Dr York’s teaching and research are focused on how and why entrepreneurs create new products, services, and industries that reduce environmental degradation. He teaches classes in business planning, entrepreneurial thinking, and environmental ventures at the undergraduate, MBA and PhD levels. Dr York has published research in journals such as the Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Business Venturing, Organization Science, and Strategic Management Journal. He serves as a Field Editor for the Journal of Business Venturing and on the editorial boards of the Academy of Management Journal, Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, and Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal.
12:00-13:30, 1 November 2018 Room S3.04, Cambridge Judge Business School
A major reason for the success of machine learning has been its ability to represent two aspects of social phenomena that are resistant to representation by traditional statistics: hidden generative structures and path dependence. We use organisational routines, much studied in management, as a site to demonstrate this ability and, accordingly, the potential for the algorithms used in machine learning to advance management theory.
Eric W.K. Tsang is the Dallas World Salute Distinguished Professor at the Jindal School of Management, University of Texas at Dallas, and is also a fellow of the Academy of International Business. He received his PhD from Cambridge Judge Business School. Before joining academia, he was a corporate banker at HSBC in Hong Kong. His main research interests include organisational learning, strategic alliances, corporate social responsibility, and philosophical analysis of methodological issues. He has published in leading business journals, such asAcademy of Management Journal,Academy of Management Review,Journal of International Business Studies,Marketing Science,MIS Quarterly, andStrategic Management Journal.
Dr Florian Ellsaesser is Assistant Professor at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management. He teaches technical classes on deep learning and Nnatural language processing in the Master in Data Science. He completed his undergraduate degree in Economics and Philosophy in the UK. His PhD at the University of Cambridge was a comparison of three approaches to explanation in management research, focusing on causal inference and the construction of explanatory frameworks. For one of his research papers Florian received the Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick Interdoctoral Conference Best PhD Paper award. During his PhD he began to study Mathematics and has continued ever since. After his PhD Florian first worked as a strategy consultant and then as a project manager at McKinsey & Company. He then moved into the entrepreneurial world and was involved in founding a number of technology startups. He also published on causal inference and machine learning in theAcademy of Management Reviewand theStrategic Management Journal. Florian’s main research interest lies in decision making under uncertainty and the application of machine learning to managerial and organisational problems.
12:00-13:30, 19 November 2019 LT4, Cambridge Judge Business School
How is an industry kept alive following a substantial and sustained drop in consumer demand? Existing explanations focus on firms successfully repositioning themselves and their products by pursuing differentiation strategies, on demand-driven revivals, and on the role of governments in propping up outdated technologies. However, based on a qualitative study of developments in the global vinyl record manufacturing industry between 1990 and 2010, I find that technology enthusiasts (or ‘tinkerers’) may play a critical role in maintaining a technology that most end-consumers and suppliers regard as obsolete. They do so by disseminating resources from a hitherto concentrated corporate domain to a dispersed, amateur domain, which involves ‘scavenging’, ‘tinkering’, developing relationships with industry old-timers and outsiders, and supporting other tinkerers by sharing resources. Depending on the timing of these activities and supportive infrastructure, tinkerers may successfully plug emerging gaps in deteriorating supply chains by repairing and rebuilding a legacy technology, as well as contribute to innovation and stimulate interest in the technology. These findings, obtained via a practice lens that examines how technology is performed, enhance our understanding of the role of stakeholders beyond incumbent firms and product consumers in shaping legacy technologies and associated industries. They also raise awareness of potentially vibrant developments in industries that strategy scholars may prematurely associate with obsolescence.
Rene obtained his PhD in management studies at Cambridge Judge Business School and is an associate member of St Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge. He also has a Magister degree in International Business Administration from the WU Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration and an MPhil degree in Innovation, Strategy & Organisation from Cambridge Judge Business School. His research focuses on organisational and field level change in health care and the creative industries. Specifically, he has conducted research on change in health care systems management in the National Health Service (NHS), funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) and is currently conducting a global study on vinyl record manufacturing in the digital era.
13:00-14:30, 23 April 2018 Room KH107, Cambridge Judge Business School
Developing, discussing, and evaluating theories and their value requires a clear understanding of what ‘theory’ is. However, there is considerable confusion of what theory stands for and what qualifies as ‘good’ theory in organisational research. One problem is that researchers often conflate the meaning of theory with the meaning of a specific type of theory, namely the prevalent explanation-prediction theory. Such conflation both conceals and cancels out the legitimacy of other possible types of theories. In this talk, I propose a typology that identifies and explicates four main types of theories within organisation studies: explaining, understanding, ordering, and provoking-oriented theories. Specifically, I show how the constitutive elements of theory (purpose, relation to phenomena, goodness criteria, boundary conditions, conceptual ordering mechanism, and theoretical contribution) take on a distinct meaning in each type of theory and, thus, give rise to substantially different types of theories. The typology thereby provides a platform that enables researchers to develop and assess theories in more varied ways and for a broader set of purposes than typically recognised.
Jorgen is Professor of Management & Organisation in the UQ Business School at the University of Queensland, Australia, and Distinguished Research Environment Professor at the Warwick Business School, UK. His main research interests include competence and learning in organisations; research methodology; practice theory; theory development; and philosophy of science. He is currently doing research on knowing in professional practice, sensemaking in organisations, and the development of more novel and impactful theories within organisation studies. He has published extensively in top-tier journals, including Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Management Studies, Journal of Organization Behavior, and Harvard Business Review, as well as several books, including Skillful Performance: Enacting Capabilities, Knowledge, Competence and Expertise in Organizations (with Rouleau, Langley and Tsoukas, Oxford University Press, 2017), Constructing Research Questions: Doing Interesting Research (with Alvesson, Sage, 2013), and Managing Understanding in Organizations (with Targama, Sage, 2007).
12:30-14:00, 25 April 2018 Room W2.02, Cambridge Judge Business School
The use of algorithms to transform organisational work has increased dramatically with the increasing quantity of information and the development of more sophisticated technologies, but prior research on professions, work, and healthcare has shown that professionals may resist the implementation of algorithms that threaten their expertise. This paper reports preliminary findings from a two-year ethnographic study of the introduction, in a US hospital’s primary care department, of clinical support algorithms built into the electronic medical record (EMR) system. Findings show that implementation of new algorithms may fail not only because professionals resist the replacement of their hard-won expertise by the expertise encoded in evidence-based algorithms, but also because implementing new algorithms may require breaking the existing relational contract that exists between the organisation and subordinate semiprofessionals. Many managerial practices require informal relational contracts rather than formal contracts enforced by courts because task assignment, promotion, and termination decisions often involve actions that cannot be fully specified in advance. The preliminary findings suggest that, when implementing algorithms results in the violation of existing relational contracts between the organisation and subordinate semiprofessionals, in order for implementation to be successful, managers may need to meet with subordinate semiprofessionals offline in recontracting spaces to rebuild the clarity, credibility, and adaptability of the unwritten set of expectations of the employment relationship. These findings have implications for our understanding of how decision-support algorithms can be successfully implemented in professional organisations.
Katherine C. Kellogg is a Professor of Work and Organization Studies at MIT. She is the author of Challenging Operations: Medical Reform and Resistance in Surgery University of Chicago Press, 2011, Winner of the Max Weber Award from the Organizations, Occupations, and Work section and the Sociology of Law Biannual Distinguished Book Award from the Law section of the American Sociological Association. Her papers have been published in the Administrative Science Quarterly, the American Journal of Sociology, the American Sociological Review, and Organization Science. Kellogg using comparative ethnographic methods to study change in professional work inside of organisations in response to emerging technologies, new regulations, and social movements.
12:00-13:30, 16 May 2018 Room W2.01, Cambridge Judge Business School
The global organisation is routinely confronted with the problem of managing groups composed of diverse nationalities. These problems were amplified during early capitalism, when language and religious differences created sharp divisions among workers. Empirical analyses that draw on historical evidence of the causal relationship between national diversity and subunit performance nevertheless remain rare. We deploy social categorisation and similarity-attraction theories to suggest how national diversity may have affected conflict and turnover among the members of multinational teams in early capitalism. In addition, we consider workforce recruitment as an alternative mechanism that suggests a confounding of the effects of national diversity with a lack of firm-specific experience. We test our hypotheses on instances of individual punishment and desertion among roughly half a million seafarers of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and on the time to completion of more than two thousand voyages to Asia by VOC ships. Our results suggest that much of the adverse performance “effect” of multinational diversity could be explained by historical shifts in workforce recruitment, rather than by a causal impact of conflict and turnover. More generally, the study has implications for the analysis of diversity in historical contexts, when demographic heterogeneity did not yet have implications for the external legitimacy of firms.
Filippo Carlo Wezel was appointed Professor of Organization and Management at the Faculty of Economics of Universita’ della Svizzera italiana (USI Lugano) in September 2009. He is currently Director of the Institute of Management and Organization at USI and permanent visiting Professor at emlyon (France). Filippo is also a Senior Editor at Organization Science. With a PhD in Management from the University of Bologna, he previously held appointments at the University of Groningen (post-doc) and at Tilburg University (assistant and, then, associate professor). He acquired further academic experience as visiting researcher/professor at the Wharton Business School, Duke and Columbia Universities, and at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). His research focuses on the effects of categorisation in markets, on managerial mobility, and on entrepreneurship. His work has been published in Academy of Management Journal, American Sociological Review, Organization Science, Journal of International Business Studies, Organization Studies, Journal of Business Venturing, Strategic Organization, Advances in Strategic Management, and Research in the Sociology of Organizations.
12:00-13:30, 23 May 2018 Room W2.02, Cambridge Judge Business School
How do firms utilise the passion of their workforce to attain competitive advantage? This research engages in an inductive study of how actors within Ontario’s successful fine wineries work with their and other’s passion to differentiate their wines. Drawing from these findings that 1) winery leaders reported work passion for three domains of the practice of fine wine making and 2) that the expression of these work passions created interactive, “hands-on” work cycles in which they publicly espoused work passion in manners that attracted and retained work passionate employees as well as socialised their work passions towards ensuring that the strategic capabilities underlying their differentiation were resilient. Subsequently, the study proposes a resource-based model of leadership passion harnessing and conduct a supplementary analysis on the expression of passion by 117 Ontario’s fine-wineries’ leaders through their mission statements and the differentiation of their wines over seven years’ of wine contests. Those wineries that expressed passion for our three domains were more likely to differentiate their wines over those that did not, particularly those facing barriers to resources. As managers have increasingly argued that their, and their workforce’s, work passion is a resource our study suggests that whether it leads to competitive advantage is shaped by whether leadership express it towards those practices they share with their employees.
Dr Wesley Helms received his PhD from the Schulich School of Business at York University in 2011. Dr Helms’s research interests are on how new and sometimes contested practices become increasingly accepted by key audiences. In particular, the strategic actions that actors take on behalf of those practices they care about and whether those actions shape the meaning of, and spread, those practices. His research has covered the practices of Corporate Social Responsibility, Mixed Martial Arts, Ontario fine winemaking, and, most recently, the emerging practices of social enterprises.
12:15-13:45, 13 June 2018 Room W2.01, Cambridge Judge Business School
Since early 2017, Rohingya refugees fled Myanmar en masse, finding refuge in south Bangladesh. Today, some 800,000 reside in a single camp called Katupalong. Although displacements that large occurred in the past, there has never been such a “mega camp”. This infrastructurally-challenged quasi-city is plagued by many organisational challenges: 20 distinct zones, over one hundred organisations working on the ground, divided leadership, unmet standards, variable government cooperation, constantly changing actors, highly limited resources. The result is existence of silos and gaps, constant delays, questionable oversight, and deteriorating conditions. Worst yet, the mega camp is about to face a further unavoidable and likely catastrophic disruption: the monsoon season. Set to hit in June, it is predicted to cause mudslides, which will wreak havoc on the mostly tent-based and terraced camp, leading to serious loss of property and life, disease, exodus, and more disorganisation.
Analytically speaking, the monsoon is a predictable crisis within an extreme context (Hallgren et al. 2018). However, none of the usual tools by which management of extreme refugee situations is done are in place here. Importantly, the highly experienced actors on the ground know it too. This case therefore stands as a unique empirical exemplar (Eisenhardt and Graebner 2007, Bamberger and Pratt 2010) of management and coordination at the limit – the limit of both organisational and personal capacity. In doing so, it speaks to existing scholarly efforts to explore coordination in practice (see Okhuysen and Bechky 2009), particularly in notably challenging settings (for example, Lanzara 1983, Majchrzak et al. 2007, Mintzberg 2001), to identify broader lessons from organisational extremes.
This work-in-progress seminar is based on a recently completed British Academy study, investigating coordination and management in the midst of refugee emergencies. The presentation builds on ethnographic observation in Bangladesh in January 2018, as well as extensive interviews with refugee emergency operatives in this and other settings. This material helps us identify a number of characteristics of situated coordination at the limit, as well as contribute by outlining key processes by which actors manage despair in practice, as a key functional feature of extreme situations and settings.
Dr Maja Korica is an Associate Professor of Management and Organisation at Warwick Business School, University of Warwick. A qualitative researcher, she has closely observed boards of directors, and management teams and chief executives in the UK public sector, seeking to better understand the nature of governance, accountability and management in practice. She is currently working on exploring coordination in various extreme settings. In 2017 she was recognised as one of the Top 40 Undergraduate Professors by Poets & Quants, and shortlisted for the Thinkers50 Radar Award, which seeks to recognise management thinkers most likely to shape the future of how organisations are managed and led. She holds a DPhil (PhD) from Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.
17:00-18:30, 31 January 2018 Fadi Boustany Lecture Theatre, Cambridge Judge Business School
Business sustainability has moved from the marginal to the mainstream. Businesses claim to be managing their triple bottom line – environmental, social and financial performance. Yet, the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED, 1987) defined sustainable development, not as the triple bottom line, but development that meets the needs of present generations without compromising the needs of future generations. In a world of increasing short-termism, businesses may be espousing sustainability, but I argue that few are practicing it. In my presentation, I will discuss ‘time’ in organisations and how it relates to sustainability, specifically its ontology and epistemology. Drawing from my own research and that of others, I argue that the pressures for short-termism and the epistemological bias of organisational studies is producing a countervailing force to sustainability. Sustainability is becoming an ever more elusive ideal in a short-term world. To advance sustainable development, organisational studies need to embrace the temporal aspects of sustainable development and consider their implications on business practice.
12:15-13:45, 21 February 2018 Room W2.01, Cambridge Judge Business School
Novel ideas are the foundation of creativity, offering the potential of distinct competitive advantage to organisations. Yet, research suggests that the collective processes enacted to identify, value, and assess the quality of novel ideas often result in the most novel ideas dying an early death. If groups routinely fail to keep novel ideas alive, then their efforts to generate ideas – and researchers’ efforts to improve idea generation – will be wasted. At the heart of this problem is a tension between novelty and quality: the more novel an idea, the more uncertainty exists about its quality. In this talk, Sarah aims to provide new insights into the processes involved in keeping novel ideas alive by exploring how to engage productively with this tension. Sarah will present qualitative data from two settings – healthcare policy and fashion design. The results challenge our understanding of collective creativity in three ways. First, in this study, keeping novel ideas alive involved developing an integrated understanding of novelty and quality rather than evaluating one then the other. Second, the process moved towards moments of agreement around liminal ideas rather than elaborating and implementing literal ideas. Third, keeping novel ideas alive involves retaining divergent interpretations rather than building consensus. The results further surprisingly suggest that novelty can and often is enacted through quality, providing new insight into our understanding of what it means to engage in a creative process.
Sarah Harvey is an Associate Professor in the UCL School of Management. Sarah studies the dynamic processes through which groups and teams engage in creative and knowledge work. She is particularly interested in how interdisciplinary groups synthesise knowledge, identify creative ideas and decide which ideas to pursue.
Sarah’s research appears in leading international academic publications includingAdministrative Science Quarterly,Academy of Management Review,Academy of Management Annals,Journal of Experimental Social Psychology,Research in Organizational Behavior, andSmall Group Research. She is on the editorial boards of theAcademy of Management Review,Administrative Science Quarterly,Journal of Organizational Behavior, andSmall Group Research. Sarah has developed and taught courses on creativity, organisational behaviour, leadership, team effectiveness, negotiations, and research methodology at UCL, the London School of Economics, and London Business School.
Sarah holds a PhD from the London Business School and a BComm (Hons) from Queen’s University in Canada. Prior to her PhD, Sarah worked for the Boston Consulting Group.
12:00-13:30, 6 March 2018 Room W2.01, Cambridge Judge Business School
To examine distributed sense-making across the “sharp-end” and “blunt-end” of the Baltic ro-ro ferry industry, a longitudinal, inductive study was conducted of 59 bow-door locking incidents that occurred over 25 years prior to the Estonia ferry accident in 1994 where 852 people died. The analysis identified three patterns of updating (editing, priming, and triggering) that actors engaged in to make sense of minor, moderate and major incidents. The study observed that one or more fractures in updating occurred in each of the three patterns of adaptive sense-making, leading the research to develop the new construct “split updating.” Split updating shifts focus away from the idea that adaptive sense-making is a monolithic process. This shift highlights the distributed and variegated nature of adaptive sense-making and highlights the importance of studying boundary crossing sense-making processes. The findings and theoretical insights make two contributions. First, the research expands sense-making research from a bifurcated “micro” or “macro” phenomenon to a distributed phenomenon that stretches across the sharp-end and blunt-end. Second, we extend existing work on adaptive sense-making by showing how incidents can lead to updating of some aspects of sense-making while cause others to remain stable. This adaptive instability can lead people to falsely conclude that the cause of a problem has been addressed through updating, and disguise unsafe practices.
Claus Rerup is Professor of Management at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, Germany, Visiting Professor of Strategy at St. Gallen HSG, Switzerland, and Otto Mønsted Visiting Professor of Management at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. Before returning to Europe in 2017 he was an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at Western University, Ivey Business School, Canada. Claus studies organisational routines, sensemaking and learning from a process perspective. He is particularly interested in how people balance conflicting demands and attend to, make sense of and learn from rare events and ambiguous feedback. His work has been published in Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science, Journal of Management, and several other journals and handbooks. Claus has served on the editorial boards of Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science, Organization Studies, and Strategic Organization. He received his PhD from Aarhus University, School of Business and Social Sciences, Denmark, and completed his post doctorate research at University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School.
12:15-13:45, 14 March 2018 Room W2.01, Cambridge Judge Business School
Abbott’s ecological analysis of how expert groups compete with each other for jurisdictional control and advantageous settlements, leveraging their unique abstract knowledge, continues to focus our examination of professions. At the same time, expert groups are continuously striking deals within their jurisdictions in relation to new technologies, regulations, and bureaucratic tools. In these deals, expert groups maintain exclusive right to work within a task jurisdiction, but they lose aspects of their autonomy. Most often, we observe professions negotiating deals – drawing on their expertise, practices, relations, and values – with solidified challenges rather than negotiating the emerging challenge. Given this, it is unclear how identified resources and strategies protect professional autonomy at earlier stages.
In this paper, I examine how professions may more or less defend their autonomy, within their jurisdiction, in relation to institution-level challenges I draw on a four-year field-level ethnography of a the development a national regulatory framework – regulations, policies, and programs – to govern the use of pathogens, viruses, and toxins in laboratories. I analyse how scientists influenced some aspects of the framework, mobilising their detailed knowledge of the materials, daily scientific practice, and organisational constraints, and compare this with their relative failure to negotiate other aspects of the framework.
This analysis shows that conjecture about scientists’ motives and morality – produced by an emerging transnational biosecurity dialogue – supplants scientists’ knowledge of their community. Overall, the findings demonstrate how identified resources that protect jurisdictional boundaries and preserve autonomy in organisations may be insufficient to reshape institution-level challenges. More generally, these findings raise questions about how emerging expert groups may come to govern established expert groups.
Ruthanne Huising is an ethnographer of work and organisations. She studies how organisations respond to external pressures to change and the implications of these changes for professional control and expertise. Across her various projects she has observed how organisations accommodate regulatory change (Human Pathogens and Toxins Act), auditing fads (Environmental Management Systems), and efficiency efforts (Ontario perioperative coaching program) and the complex responses of scientists, biosafety officers, health physicists, surgeons, nurses and administrators.
13:30-15:00, 11 October 2017 Room W2.02, Cambridge Judge Business School
The academy is facing a crisis of relevance. While there are multiple reasons for this to be happening, one that deserves particular attention is the extent to which academic scholars do not see it as their role to engage in public and political discourse. However, increased engagement is unavoidable in an emerging educational context where the caliber of public discourse has become so degraded and social media is changing the nature of science and scientific discourse within society. Further, there is a demographic shift in play, where young scholars are seeking more impact from their work than their more senior colleagues. In this article, I begin the process of articulating what we know and what we don’t know about the evolving role of the engaged scholar by breaking the conversation into two parts. First, why should academic scholars engage in public and political discourse? Second, how can we structure a set of ground rules that could form what might be considered a handbook for public engagement? In the end, this talk is about a re-examination of how we practice our craft, to what purpose and to which audiences.
Andrew Hoffman is the Holcim (US) Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at Michigan Ross, University of Michigan; a position that holds an 11appointment in the Management & Organisations department at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and the Sustainable Systems group at the School of Environment and Sustainability. Andy is a leader in using organisational, network and strategic analyses to assess the implications of environmental issues for business, and has published 14 books and over 100 articles and book chapters on the topic. Prior to academics, Andy worked for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA Region 1), Metcalf & Eddy Environmental Consultants, T&T Construction & Design, and the Amoco Corporation.
12:15-13:45, 17 October 2017 Room W4.03, Cambridge Judge Business School
Increasing attention – both in the scholarly literature and in the world of policy makers and practitioners – is being paid to the challenges facing female entrepreneurs. What was once assumed to be a merit-based system for encouraging and rewarding entrepreneurs is now understood to operate in gendered ways that in many cases disadvantage female founders. These effects occur across the entire pipeline, beginning with the dearth of women seeking to start high growth companies, to the lack of funding opportunities and mentorship. There are substantial differences in the number of startups led by women, their levels of relevant experience and the amount of funding – both debt and equity – they seek and receive. Some have argued that women tend to found lower potential startups. Yet, even controlling for quality, we see many implicit biases in how female founders are treated. One important approach to redressing inequalities might be through the use of accelerators. Entrepreneurship accelerators are proliferating in both developed and developing economies as different cities, regions and sectors seek to increase economic growth and employment. Accelerators are designed to give a boost to startups by providing in a concentrated way the mentorship, networks, training and financing required to be successful. The presence of accelerators could have the potential to solve some of the challenges female entrepreneurs face, however preliminary evidence suggests that they, for the most part, seem to be perpetuating the gendered dynamics that exist in the entrepreneurial system. On the other hand, there is no systematic research on how accelerators do or might address the gendered dynamics of entrepreneurship. Because accelerators are seen as such an important policy tool for increasing entrepreneurial success, it is imperative that we develop and analyse systematic data on accelerators and their effects, particularly on female founders. In this study, we will draw on what is known to date on female entrepreneurs and more broadly on the research on gender in organisations and the economy to understand the dynamics of acceleration in entrepreneurship. Using a longitudinal database of over 3,000 ventures in nearly 50 accelerators, we trace the effects of selection into the accelerator and the acceleration process on outcomes for women-only, women-led, and male-only venture teams. We couple survey data with interviews of accelerators to understand whether and when acceleration can be a tool for mitigating gender bias in female entrepreneurship.
Sarah Kaplan is Professor of Strategic Management at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. She is author of the New York Times business bestseller, Creative Destruction, challenging the notion of sustainable competitive advantage and the myth of excellence, and the recently releasedSurvive and Thrive: Winning Against Strategic Threats to Your Business. Her work has focused on generating insights that can help companies avoid this cultural lock-in and innovate at the pace and scale of the market. Her current research continues this exploration of how organisations participate in and respond to the emergence of new fields and technologies. She recently authored “Gender Equality as an Innovation Challenge” in theRotman Magazine(2017), “The Risky Rhetoric of Female Risk Aversion” in the Stanford Social Innovation Review(2016), “Meritocracy: From Myth to Reality” in the Rotman Management Magazine(2015), and “The Rise of Gender Capitalism,” in the Stanford Social Innovation Review(2014).
Formerly a professor at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, where she remains a Senior Fellow; and a consultant and innovation specialist for nearly a decade at McKinsey & Company in New York, she completed her doctoral research at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
12:15-13:45, 15 November 2017 Room KH107, Cambridge Judge Business School
The process of inter-organisational categorisation, whereby leaders produce mental models regarding collaborative opportunities and competitive threats, can enable or challenge cross-sector value creation. Through a qualitative study of 46 leaders in the second-hand textiles market, the research illustrates how and under what conditions organisational hybridity leads decision makers to engage in morally-sharpened categorisation and thus more highly politicised responses toward other market actors. The findings and model extend theory regarding cross-sector collaboration, illustrating that such collaboration can be undermined by categorisation practices that compel efforts to control and reshape collective identities. Moreover, they extend research at the intersection of institutions and categories by revealing how settings characterised by multiple institutional logics and hybrid organisations can lead to divergent applications of the categorical imperative.
Paper co-authored by Dr Wesley Helms, Brock University
Matthew Grimes is as an Assistant Professor at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. He completed his graduate studies at Vanderbilt University and the University of Oxford. He was also recently appointed as an International Research Fellow at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford. Matthew’s research focuses broadly on how business and innovation can be a force for good in society. As such, his published and ongoing work explores settings like social entrepreneurship, B Corporations, idea-stage entrepreneurship, and future technology. This work appears in the Academy of Management Review, the Academy of Management Journal, and the Journal of Business Venturing. He also currently serves as a member of the editorial review boards of all three of these journals.
Wesley Helms is as an Associate Professor of Strategic Management at Brock University’s Goodman School of Business. He received his PhD from the Schulich School of Business at York University. He is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at Cambridge Judge Business School and a Visiting Scholar at St Edmund’s College. Wesley studies the strategies of organisations that are marginalised for their core practices or due to their work with stigmatised actors with the goal of better understanding how they navigate the sanctions they experience to serve their communities. These organisations range from social enterprises to cold-climate fine wineries to mixed martial arts organisations. His work has been published in the Academy of Management Journaland the Journal of Management and Organisation.
12:15-13:45, 26 April 2017 Room W2.02, Cambridge Judge Business School
Formal structures enable social collectives to coordinate and manage their activities as they grow in scale and scope, but their introduction has historically undermined collectives’ founding values by reducing opportunities for participation, autonomy, and free expression. Although the benefits and costs of formalisation are well known, little research explores how collectives navigate this “formalisation dilemma” in ways that enable them to grow while remaining true to their founding values. We address this question through a comparative ethnographic study of three open source software communities. Following these communities longitudinally over a 15-year period, we find they confronted similar organising challenges around coordinating work, managing participation, and maintaining order. Yet they addressed these challenges in different ways, relying on varying combinations of formal and informal approaches to manage growth. Moreover, the adoption of formal structures did not necessarily undermine participatory and expressive values, nor did their absence prevent communities from expanding in scale and scope. In contrast to prior research, these findings suggest the trade-off between formalisation and collectivist ideals is a false dichotomy. They further contribute a previously under-appreciated range of organising models – which we term federated, bureaucratic, and informal – that communities can adopt to incorporate formal structures in ways that sustain rather than undermine their founding values.
Dr Marya Besharov is an Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at the ILR School at Cornell University. An organisational theorist with a background in organisational sociology, Marya studies how organisations and their leaders navigate competing goals. Much of her research focuses on social-business hybrid organisations such as social enterprises and mission-driven businesses that combine social and commercial goals. Her work has been published in journals such as Academy of Management Journal,Academy of Management Review, Business Ethics Quarterly, Academy of Management Learning and Education,Research in Organizational Behavior, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, and Industrial and Corporate Change. Marya currently serves on the editorial boards of the Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, and Administrative Science Quarterly. She received a BA in Social Studies, an MA in Sociology, and a PhD in Organisational Behaviour from Harvard University. She also holds an MBA from Stanford. Prior to her academic career, Marya worked as a researcher and consultant in the health care field.
12:15-13:45, 17 May 2017 Room W2.01, Cambridge Judge Business School
Internal ‘fit’ is one of the oldest, most essential and enduring notions in the field of strategy. While it provides a compact representation of firms and strategy, and a crisp explanation of competitive advantage, the established notion of internal fit discounts the generative and strategic benefits of tensions and contradictions and is relatively silent about strategy creation and change. In this paper, we reimagine the concept of internal fit in a way that addresses both of its limitations and fundamentally challenges its underlying ontological premises and those of available alternatives. We introduce the dialectical notion of ‘tensional fit’ to jointly highlight how tensions and contradictions may infuse fit, and how they continuously coevolve with it. This dual, more permeable, evolving and generative concept of fit, departs from prior synchronic and tension-free conceptions. As we also argue, capable of generating endogenous change, contradictions can, in some forms and degree, be value creating too. This allows tensional fit to jointly explain how firms create and change their strategies as well as how they enhance and sustain their competitive advantage. We use tensional fit as a gateway for developing a rich and dynamic model of strategy, particularly applicable to firms competing in shifting and complex environments.
Title tbc Dr Siobhan O’Mahony, Questrom School of Business, Boston University
12:30-14:00, 24 May 2017 Room W2.02, Cambridge Judge Business School
Professor O’Mahony is Chair of the Strategy and Innovation Department. Her research explores how technical and creative projects organise for innovation. She has examined how high technology contractors, open source programmers, artists, music producers, internet startups and product development teams coordinate their efforts in projects, teams and communities. She is interested in how people create organising structures that promote innovation, creativity and growth without replicating the bureaucratic structures they strive to avoid. Dr O’Mahony’s research has appeared in Administrative Science Quarterly, Organization Science, Academy of Management Journal, Research in Organizational Behavior, Research Policy, Research in the Sociology of Organizations,Industry and Innovation, and the Journal of Management and Governance. A former consultant with Price Waterhouse LLP and Electronic Data Systems, she has consulted to organisations such as IDEO, the Global Business Network, Novell, Cap Gemini, Proquest, Microsoft, McDonald Investments, and the European Union.
Appeals for a Professional Tomorrow: the Role of Emotion in Discursive Institutional Work Dr Trish Reay, Alberta School of Business, University of Alberta
14:45-16:15, 25 May 2017 Room KH107, Cambridge Judge Business School
We examine how emotions can be used in discursive institutional work over an extended period of time by studying the American Pharmaceutical Association’s responses to threats to the profession of pharmacy. Our rhetorical analysis of the editorials of the Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association shows that the texts employed a variety of emotions both singularly and in combination to persuade rank and file pharmacists to disrupt old practices, adopt new practices, and institutionalise the changes over the course of decades. While most of the nascent literature on emotions and institutional processes has focused on felt emotions, we contribute to the institutional literature by taking a long term approach to the strategic use of emotion that allows us to capture differences over time in the frequency and way in which the same categories of emotions were employed to motivate action.
12:00-14:30, 16 June 2017 Room CTR, Cambridge Judge Business School
Much of the funding in global microfinance is from impact investment funds. These funds seek out and value opportunities that deliver strong social and financial returns. This is considered a way to grow capital while having a positive influence in the world. Building on insights from categories and resource dependence theories, however, we argue that the influence of such funds is uneven across different types of microfinance institutions (MFIs) and is likely to have an overall negative impact. This is related to how impact funds apply financial and social screens when making investment decisions: MFIs are first screened based on financial performance; social screens are then applied to the MFIs that comprise the set of “investable” organisations. Based on this, we predict that higher levels of impact investment funding in a nation create incentives for most MFIs to reduce social outreach in order to get into the funder’s consideration set. For those at the top of the market, however, there is an incentive to increase social outreach so as to stand out and attract funder attention. We test our arguments with a comprehensive analysis of the microfinance funding structure in 115 countries from 1995-2013, which we supplement with interviews with 34 investment fund managers. Results are consistent with our predictions: an increased supply of impact investment capital in a nation’s microfinance sector results in significant mission drift among most MFIs, but modestly increases outreach at the top of the market.
Dr Tyler Wry studies hybrid ventures, which are organisations that simultaneously pursue goals associated with different meaning systems: for example, nanotechnology companies that integrate scientific discovery and technology commercialisation, and social enterprises that work to generate profits while addressing social issues. These organisations have the potential to generate important commercial and social innovations, but also face a number of unique challenges, particularly in the startup stage of development. Building on this, Tyler’s research focuses on how hybrids emerge, attract resources, and positively affect society.
Tyler’s work has appeared in outlets such as theAcademy of Management Annals,the Academy of Management Journal,the Academy of Management Review,the Journal of Business Venturing, andOrganization Science. He serves on the editorial boards ofAdministrative Science Quarterly,the Academy of Management Journalandthe Academy of Management Review. In his spare time, Professor Tyler is a tired dad who enjoys running, racquet sports, and fleeting moments of quiet.
Lent Term 2017
Cumulative Advantage & the Status-Quality Link Professor Jerker Denrell, Warwick Business School
14:00-15:30, 1 February 2017 Room W4.05, Cambridge Judge Business School
Prior research has shown that processes of cumulative advantage can lead to a low correlation between status and quality. When past success makes future success more likely even an agent or object of moderate quality can achieve repeated success and high status. Here we show that processes of cumulative advantage can also generate a negative correlation between status and quality: high status may indicate lower expected quality than moderate status does. The mechanism is that succeeding under favourable circumstances, caused by past success, is less informative about quality than succeeding under adverse circumstances, caused by past failure. In competitive systems, where winning requires beating an opponent, there is an additional mechanism: wins and losses are informative about the quality of the opponent. Repeated winning indicates that the quality of the opponent is low which makes winning less impressive. A sequence of wins followed by a loss indicates that the quality of the opponent is high, especially if the opponent was disadvantaged as a result of past losses, which makes the initial wins more impressive. The results have implications for status signalling, careers, and imitation processes.
Prior to joining Warwick Business School in 2012 Jerker Denrell was Professor of Strategy and Decision Making at University of Oxford and Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He has published widely on topics including social dynamics, behavioural strategy, organisational learning and risk taking in leading journals including Psychological Review, Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Management Science, Organization Science, Strategic Management Journal, andAdministrative Science Quarterly.
13:00-14:30, 24 February 2017 Room W4.05, Cambridge Judge Business School
This paper explores how fairness is enacted in organisations. While early organisational researchers and moral psychologists approached fairness as a consciously deliberated ethical issue, recent behavioral and sensemaking studies highlight the intuitive and emotional foundations of fairness. Fairness is also increasingly understood as situationally malleable. Whether and how individuals engage with fairness (intuitively/deliberately) may depend on the circumstances in which they find themselves and where their responses to moral issues are primed (rather than consciously chosen). Yet, most of this research has not investigated how organisational context, especially when equipped with an ‘ethical infrastructure’ (e.g., ethical codes, frameworks), shapes engagement with fairness issues. The following question thus remains empirically and theoretically unaddressed: when organisations formally pursue fairness, how do organisational actors enact situated judgements on fairness? To explore this question, we conducted a field study of three English health authorities, which overtly aimed to handle complex cases – patients with atypical needs requesting exceptional funding – with fairness. These organisations explicitly framed fairness in utilitarian terms (maximisation of clinical benefit) and stipulated that a formal model of fairness be applied in every atypical case. Our ethnographic observations focused on how organisational actors enacted fairness when dealing with particular cases. Our findings suggest that fairness is a collective and effortful accomplishment that entails cognitive, moral, and affective work. It is through this work that situated judgements on fairness are crafted in an organisational context where fairness is a formal objective. The paper thus unpacks the internal workings of morally-attuned organisations and draws implications for future research on moral decision making.
Emmanouil (Manos) Gkeredakis is Assistant Professor at Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, UK. He received his PhD from the University of Liverpool and has previously held postdoctoral positions at New York University, Stern School of Business, and University of Warwick. His research focuses on process organisation studies with a particular interest in coordination practices and emerging phenomena of crowd-based innovation. His work has appeared in journals such as Organization Studies and Information Systems Research. His research is generally inspired by practice theories.
with Professor Royston Greenwood, University of Alberta Business School, as discussant and commenting on “where institutional theory is going”
12:30-14:30, 28 February 2017 Room W4.05, Cambridge Judge Business School
In this study, we build on Selznick’s theoretical insights to investigate how a group of multi-centenary family firms that are regarded as “institutions” – Japanese shinise – maintain this status. Our findings reveal a system of mutually supporting relationships between family, business, and community that explain the distinctive social standing of these organisations, the preservation of their identity-defying elements despite environmental changes, and their striking continuity. This study contributes to family business research and institutional theory by beginning to unpack the interrelations between communities, as a distinctive sociocultural context, and family firms, and by extending Selznick’s ideas beyond organisational boundaries to appreciate the central role of communities in providing and preserving values.
Paper co-authored by Innan Sasaki and Evelyn R. Micelotta.
12:15-13:45, 9 November 2016 Room W4.05, Cambridge Judge Business School
Meaning is at the heart of identity – who we are and what we do. We focus on a specific form of collective identity – city identity – and build on Cerulo’s research (1995, 2005, 2009) that collective identity and shared experiences are encoded into material form. We extend collective identity by focusing on space and the built environment, which in contrast to national symbols, are in constant process of revision, including both change and stability. This combination of stability and change in material form enables us to examine the dynamic, interactive processes of collective identity. We engage in an inductive case study of Boston from 1930 through 2014 to explore how city identity and meaning is expressed, co-constructed and contested in the construction and removal of the elevated freeway. We trace the discourse and relations among key stakeholders: government policymakers, the Mayor, trade associations (private business interests), architects, architectural critics and the lay public. Our tentative and initial findings reveal how the built environment serves as a mnemonic device, triggering some historical memories and narratives to construct meaning and the city’s identity.
Candace Jones research interests include creative industries and professional services from the lenses of networks, vocabularies, institutional logics, and materiality.
She has published on range of creative industries, including film, music, architects and architecture, in a variety of top journals, including theAcademy of Management Review, Academy of Management Annals, Administrative Science Quarterly, Journal of Organizational Behavior,Organization Science, and Organization Studies and Poetics.
In 2015, she co-edited the Oxford Handbook of Creative Industries with Jonathan Sapsed and Mark Lorenzen.
She is on the Editorial Review Boards of Academy of Management Review, Journal of Professions and Organization, Organization Science andOrganization Studies.
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