Change CAN Happen in Academia: The Story of Organizational Research Methods

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Herman Aguinis of George Washington University, Ravi S. Ramani of Purdue University Northwest, and Isabel Villamor of George Washington University. They recently published an article in Organizational Research Methods entitled “The First 20 Years of Organizational Research Methods: Trajectory, Impact, and Predictions for the Future” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they reflect on the growth of Organizational Research Methods and possible future directions for the journal.

ORM_72ppiRGB_powerpointA common viewpoint is that change and innovation is difficult and very slow in academia. If they occur at all, changes are long-drawn and unlikely to alter the status quo substantially. The story of Organizational Research Methods (ORM) proves otherwise. ORM, a journal that is just 20 years old, has become one of the most-cited and influential journals in management, business, and applied psychology. How did this happen? And, having achieved so much success so quickly, what does the future of ORM, and methodology more generally, look like?

Our article published in ORM titled “The First 20 Years of Organizational Research Methods: Trajectory, Impact, and Predictions for the Future” answers these questions and more. In two decades, this journal devoted to methodology has fulfilled its dual role and mission of serving as an outlet in which methodologists can publish their best work and where substantive researchers can learn about new methodological developments as well as recommendations on how to address important methodological challenges. From its adoption of a legitimization strategy through strategic partnerships, to growing pains as it sought to balance quantitative vs. qualitative and micro vs. macro topics, to the challenges of breaking into lists of “A-journals,” and finally, to questions about its future, our analysis shows that in many ways, the story of ORM is the story of a successful disruptive new venture in one of the oldest and most traditional industries: academia. We analyze the story of this new venture, as evidenced by editorials, published articles, and the composition of senior editorial teams to understand what specific steps allowed it to succeed. We also highlight innovations introduced by ORM that separated it from other journals, and the researchers whose contributions fueled this rise. Finally, we discuss the implications of ORM’s journey for its future and the future of research methodology as it moves from a growth phase to maturity in its organizational life-cycle.

We believe that our article explicating the trajectory, impact, and possible future directions for ORM and methodology more generally will be useful for management researchers in a number of ways. The information regarding methodological advancements published in ORM will help substantive researchers sharpen their toolkits and discover novel ways of addressing important research questions. It will also help universities, professional organizations, and faculty involved in doctoral education improve the rigor and breadth of training provided to future scholars. Our article can also be a reference to these newcomers as they learn where to go to find accurate answers to most of the methodological questions they may encounter during their formative years. In addition, illustrating the impact of the numerous how-to’s and best-practice articles published in ORM may aid academics who wish to avoid engaging in questionable research practices (QRPs) which damage the credibility and impact of our research. Finally, by showcasing ORM’s trajectory, our article may be of use to the editors and senior editorial teams of both new journals, as well as those interested in improving the impact and influence of their existing publication.

We look forward to hearing the reactions to our article and hope that it will serve as a catalyst further enhance the quality of ORM, and more broadly, methodology in management, business, applied psychology, and related fields.

To read more examples of high impact articles from ORM see this list:

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Entrepreneurs’ Utilization of Political and Family Ties in Emerging Markets

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Jianhua Ge of the Renmin University of China, Dr. Michael Carney of the Concordia University, and Dr. Franz Kellermanns of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and WHU. They recently published an article in Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice entitled “Who Fills Institutional Voids? Entrepreneurs’ Utilization of Political and Family Ties in Emerging Markets,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Ge speaks about the motivations, innovations, and impact of this research :]


What motivated you to pursue this research

Acquiring resources is always challenging for private entrepreneurs, particularly when the market channels are absent or poorly developed, which is common in many emerging markets including China. A possible solution suggested by prior studies is to engage in political networking, and entrepreneurs can pursue and utilize political ties to fill those prevalent institutional voids. But, as also suggested by prior research, to cultivate and maintain political ties is highly costly, and the “grabbing hand” of the political actor can also bring risks and harms. As such, entrepreneurs are not always willing and able to develop the political ties. Then how are they overcoming the resource barriers to start and grow their business? Actually, scholars in family business already mention the functional role of kin or family ties, but the empirical studies are rare and the efforts to bridge these two fields of political and family ties are missing. We are thus motivated to investigate the roles of political ties and family ties in filling institutional voids as entrepreneurs try to acquire resources.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

While the fields of political networking and family business are disconnected, we draw on insights from political and family embeddedness and argue that both political ties and family ties can help entrepreneurs acquire resources when facing institutional voids. Our study suggests that when family ties are relatively available, entrepreneurs’ intentions to cultivate political ties to fill institutional voids are weaker. This is because family ties can be alternative sources of resources and, compared to potentially costly political ties, family tie has its own advantages. We further show that to effectively utilize these family ties, considering family members’ motivation to use their resources and the family owner’s mobilization capability are both necessary. These findings enrich and deepen our understanding of entrepreneurs’ networking strategies in acquiring resources. They also shed light on the unique value of family ties, which is largely ignored by the mainstream management but definitely should be considered.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

In this project, we integrated sociopolitical and cultural perspectives. As scholars extend key topics or processes in entrepreneurship and family firm research, we suggest linking different theoretical perspectives to generate new insights. Accordingly, we encourage scholars with distinct backgrounds further topics in entrepreneurship and family firm research.

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Restricted Variance Interaction Effects

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Jose Cortina of Virginia Commonwealth University,  Tine Koehler of the University of Melbourne, Kathleen R. Keeler of Virginia Commonwealth University, and Bo Bernhard Nielsen of the University of Sydney and Copenhagen Business School. They recently published an article in Journal of Management entitled “Restricted Variance Interaction Effects: What they are and why they are your friends,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Cortina reveals the inspiration for conducting this research :]

JOM_44.1_72ppiRGB_powerpointI had read about Mischel’s situation strength notion when I was an undergrad. The idea was that, in strong situations, everyone behaves the same way regardless of individual differences like conscientiousness or extraversion. In weak situations where there aren’t clear norms for behavior, individual differences rule. This phenomenon results in Mischel’s personality by situation interaction such that personality predicts behavior in weak situations but not in strong situations. That made sense to me, and I didn’t giveit much more thought.

Until few years ago. Some of my students were interested in this stuff, so I started reading more about the situation strength hypothesis. Then, as always, I started to question. First, do authors who rely on Mischel’s theory for their hypotheses actually test for variance differences as per the theory? (Spoiler alert-the answer is no, but that paper is under review elsewhere). Second, might it be that this sort of phenomenon goes beyond personality by situation interactions? The more I thought about this second question, the more intrigued I became.

Then I was on sabbatical at the University of Sydney, and I was looking for an excuse to collaborate with Bo Nielsen on something related to international business. It occurred to me that a more general sort of interaction, something that I began calling a restricted variance interaction, was quite common in IB research. So Bo, my longtime partner in crime Tine Kohler, and I published a paper to this effect in JIBS. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that RV interactions went beyond IB. They were, in fact, everywhere, and at every level of analysis, from within person to between country. If we ever start doing interplanetary research, I bet we find RV interactions there too.
We started fiddling with data and equations, and we discovered that there was a lot of interesting stuff going on with these interactions. First, restriction of variance affects unstandardized weights, but not standardized weights. Second, while restriction on the DV weakens prediction as per Mischel, restriction on the IV actually has the opposite effect! Third, restriction on a mediator has no effect on the indirect effect. Fourth, higher order RV interactions are also entirely possible. Fifth, RV interactions have their own testing requirements. And the more we looked in the literature, the more we found examples of these and other RV interaction phenomena. Put all of this together, add my student Kate Keeler to the team, and you have our JOM paper.

This paper is one of three that Tine, Bo, Kate, and I are working on. The more that people look at the field through an RV lens, the easier they will find it to support their interaction hypotheses. My hope is that, through these various papers, we can generate enough interest in RV interactions that it reaches a tipping point such that everyone gets some exposure to the thinking that underlies these phenomena. Then we will see interaction hypotheses with stronger foundations than is currently the case. Here’s hopin’.

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Do we Value Disabled Lives in Academia?

[We’re pleased to welcome Guest Editor Dr. Sushil K. Oswal of the University of Washington Tacoma. Dr. Oswal recently published a guest editorial in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly entitled “Can Workplaces, Classrooms, and Pedagogies Be Disabling?” which is currently free to read for a limited time. The editorial was written as an introduction for the Special Issue: Enabling Workplaces, Classrooms, and Pedagogies: Bringing Disability Theory and Accessibility to Business and Professional Communication. Below, Dr. Oswal reflects on the significance of the articles featured in this issue in the context of today’s political environment:]


Disability has been of late in the news for so many reasons: during the last presidential election, a presidential candidate publicly made fun of a disabled journalist without any serious repercussions; earlier this year the U.S. Department of Education took down advisories on providing access to education in schools and colleges to students with disabilities without any serious opposition from educators or public; and presently some members of Congress are trying to turn the clock back to the times when United States did not treat its own children as citizens because they were missing a limb or a sensory organ. What has been missing from the media coverage of these recent events is whether or not the U.S. body politic any more considers disabled people human enough to have any rights or voice at all. The humanity that was returned to this nation’s disabled citizens after a long wait of two centuries at the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act by President, George Bush on July 25, 1990 seems to be in peril because the U.S. Congress appears no longer concerned about the civil liberties of all the citizens of this land. Even when major corporations like Walgreens, Microsoft, IBM, Google, and Apple have realized the value of being inclusive of disabled users, consumers, and sometimes, workers, some of our democratically elected representatives are writing legislations that would raise new barriers for more than one fifth of the country’s population and deny them the right to enjoy a meal at a restaurant, or a game at the neighborhood bowling alley.

This author believes that not only do we in academia have a civic obligation to speak in support of our 56 million disabled fellow citizens in public debates about disability rights but also have a professional and academic responsibility to pull down barriers that keep these citizens from full participation in our universities, the products of our professional work, and our information and communications. The March 2018 special issue of Business and Professional Communication Quarterly takes a step in this direction and presents a host of professional and scholarly solutions for making our business information and communication accessible for users with disabilities. Not only does it share some well-tried approaches for teaching disability and accessibility in our classes but also includes a set of strategies for disabling our whole curriculum so that the business field begins to include students with disabilities as the rightful members of academia.

It is a hefty issue with seven full-length articles and a longish introduction by the guest editor. Above is a link to the table-of-contents as a sampling of the topics and authors covered. Readers will see how the authors here engage disability studies theory and design principles in interesting ways with the work of scholars like Sara Ahmed and J. K. Rowling. Before the print copies of this BPCQ special issue run out, you would like to grab a copy for your book shelf. The special issue can also be an excellent textbook for a graduate course in business, professional, and technical communication because the wonderfully diverse advice on integrating access offered in this volume is even more pertinent for our future teachers, scholars, and practitioners as people with disabilities join our programs (and ranks), and as the aging population of this world demands roughly the same sort of access to information and communication services that disabled users have desired all along.

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Cognitive and Affective Job Insecurity

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Lixin Jiang of the University of Auckland and Dr. Lindsey M. Lavaysse of Washington State University–Vancouver. They recently published an article in the Journal of Management entitled “Cognitive and Affective Job Insecurity: A Meta-Analysis and a Primary Study,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Jiang reveals the inspiration for conducting this research :]


What motivated you to pursue this research?

I was driven by two primary reasons. The most recent meta-analysis on the outcome of job insecurity was published in 2008. The field has made a lot of progress since then. There is a great need to update our knowledge of outcomes of job insecurity. More importantly, when asking employees about their job insecurity, they often say, “I am really scared of the possibility of job loss.” This is what we called the affective aspect of job insecurity. However, the field still primarily focuses on cognitive job insecurity- the perceived possibility of job loss. Thus, there is a mismatch between how employees really experience job insecurity and what we actually measure in the academia. In order to address this problem, I conducted this meta-analysis to show that affective job insecurity has better predictive power than cognitive job insecurity and should be included in the theoretical development of job insecurity.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

We ended up having to code almost 500 articles (465 to be exact). I coded all articles. You can imagine it is a very time-consuming process. To complete the task, I coded 20 articles per day, which took me about one month. Then, I focused on my other work during the next month. Finally, I came back and recoded all articles all over again to make sure that all coding was correct. Of course, Linz, the second author, coded 20% of articles and we compared our notes. This was the most challenging part.

As predicted, affective job insecurity was a better predictor of employee outcomes than cognitive job insecurity. Additionally, we included a primary study as suggested by reviewers. We found that for those who treat their job as their number one priority (as opposed to those who do not believe their work plays an important role in their life), they become more vulnerable and report a significantly higher level of affective job insecurity when perceiving there is a possibility of job loss. The only one surprising finding is that the predictive validity of a scale tapping into both affective and cognitive job insecurity was not as bad as we have expected.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

If you are particularly interested in outcomes of job insecurity, then you should measure affective job insecurity. If you are interested in predictors of job insecurity, then you should measure cognitive job insecurity. Moreover, future research should examine moderators and mediators in the linkage between cognitive job insecurity and affective job insecurity. That is, why is there a relation between cognitive job insecurity and affective job insecurity? Who is more likely to report higher levels of affective job insecurity as a result of cognitive job insecurity?

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“Academic Gerrymandering,” the Redistricting of Academic Work for Managerial Benefit

[We’re pleased to welcome author, Dr. Kathy Lund Dean of Gustavus Adolphus College. She recently published an article in the Journal of Management Inquiry entitled “Academic Gerrymandering? Expansion and Expressions of Academic Work” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Dean reflects on this article:]


I am thrilled that “Academic gerrymandering? Expansion and expressions of academic work” will be published and hope it spurs conversations within the vision of the Generative Curiosity section. The article explores how traditional professors’ jobs are blurring the bright lines between faculty and administrative work. The main concept and title of the article mirror my dismay over the U.S. Supreme Court-level conflicts about electoral district gerrymandering, or how political parties remake electoral district boundaries for their own gains, circumventing fair election processes and citizen voice in favor of getting their candidate into office.

“Blended’ academic roles, or, new faculty roles that combine traditional faculty work with administrative responsibilities, are increasingly common. While some faculty are jobcrafting their work into blended roles—re-defining work responsibilities and creating customized jobs that speak to strengths, interests, passions, and desires to learn new things—others are living out blended roles that are demotivating and draining. In my article, I model how blended academic roles might be experienced—a range from liberating and energizing to exploitative and dispiriting. Where these new work roles fall in the model depends on two factors: faculty agency, or, whether faculty retain real power in selecting work parameters, and institutional instrumentality, or, whether institutions direct faculty energy toward their own agendas and goals. “Academic gerrymandering” is my biggest worry for this new form of work; gerrymandering occurs when institutions actively “redistrict” faculty roles, moving administrative responsibilities that it needs accomplished into a faculty role without commensurately removing other responsibilities, and/or circumventing that faculty member’s needs or input.

The good news is that blended faculty work can be inspiring, challenging, and directed toward learning new skills and testing out new abilities. I call that “positional dexterity,” when faculty have lots of control over their work parameters and the institution helps that faculty member be successful. My inspiration for writing the article came from living out my own blended faculty role, complete with its agency struggles, ambiguous boundaries, political challenges, as well as its opportunity, creativity and energy. I was also inspired to explore these new roles by observing colleagues in blended roles whose experiences have not been positive, and whose institutions have been, in my opinion, quite opportunistic in how administrative work is being parsed out and completed.

I recommend that faculty be alert to how their jobs are changing, and how jobcrafted work can result in synergy between faculty and administrative responsibilities when voice and agency are retained. Taking ownership over job boundaries can mean the difference between gerrymandered work roles and joyful, innovative ones. In my experience, there are many other responses to administrative ‘demands’ than simply saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and faculty may be in a unique position to partner with administration and find roles that fuse both institutional needs with faculty interests. What’s clear, however, is that the need to consider job ‘districting’ in new ways is getting much more important than ever before.

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The Psychology of Diversity Resistance and Integration

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Christine Wiggins-Romesburg of the University of Louisville and Rod P. Githens of the University of the Pacific. They recently published an article in the Human Resource and Development Review entitled “The Psychology of Diversity Resistance and Integration,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Ms. Wiggins-Romesburg reflects on experiences that inspired this research:]

hrda_16_4.coverIn my prior career as a human resource management practitioner, I worked in a mid-sized corporation where executives were credibly accused of sexual harassment, and it was left to me to address the complaints. I thought that, given the mutual respect I had with the men accused and our shared interest in protecting the organization from lawsuits, I could convince them to discontinue any offensive behavior. Much to my dismay, my efforts resulted in a deepening of biased attitudes and an apparent escalation of harassment that placed the business at increased risk, and ultimately had a negative impact on the careers of the targets and on my own career. I was floored. This experience left me to wonder, “What I could have said or have done differently to produce a better result?”

Although this happened more than ten years ago, today we find countless examples in the media and other recent events where people are called out for their biases and treatment of others. While such behavior may justly earn public condemnation, treating biased individuals this way can be divisive, and provoke defensiveness and shame. As this paper shows, this can increase resistance to change and lessen the chance of a positive outcome.

One possible solution might be taking a softer approach to dealing with biased individuals that is more caring of the needs of those whose behavior we hope to change. This approach is further applicable in situations where the biased individual is in a position of power. The findings were counterintuitive for me personally, and have left me with many more questions that I will continue to investigate.

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