JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and the Financial Crisis of 2008

[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Lauren Berkshire Hearit of Hope College. Dr. Hearit recently published an article in International Journal of Business Communication entitled “JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and the Financial Crisis of 2008,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Hearit reveals the inspiration for conducting this research :]

JBC_53_2_Covers.inddIn 2010, I participated in a public policy seminar focused on the 2008 Financial Crisis that sought to understand and untangle the policies that led the global economic crisis. Starting a research interest that continues to drive me to this day, I took a deep dive in to the area, reading every new book that attempted to explain the multiple causes of the crisis. In 2013, I came across an article from The Wall Street Journal that reported that the number of banks nationwide had fallen below 7,000 – for the first time since federal regulators began tracking these numbers in 1934. This raised a number of questions: “how did these banks do this? How are they bigger than ever?” As I investigated how almost every major Wall Street bank avoided bankruptcy and increased in size, I found an integrative approach to economic policy communication was a valuable informative lens by which to study the choices made by these banks. By and large, these banks used discourse to respond to public pressure by talking publicly about their individual performance and robust strength following the financial crisis—while simultaneously using discourse privately in an effort to influence and avoid increased regulation and policy.

In my article, I use discourse analysis to examine how JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo utilized language following the Financial Crisis as a corporate resource in the same way they use personnel, capital and technology. I examine each bank’s news releases, annual reports, and annual letter to shareholders from 2009 and compare what each bank communicated to how it was covered in the mainstream news media. I ultimately argue the discourse of finance privileges the upper-class and wealthy—and is designed to minimize the role of the middle and working classes from participation in public policy decision-making. As they tailored their post-crisis discourse to focus on bank strength and stability, these major Wall Street banks utilized a terminology (e.g., mortgage-backed securities, subprime mortgages, derivatives trading, etc.) that made participation in the crisis resolution difficult, choosing language that was largely inaccessible to the public. The public largely had little choice but to accept these banks’ actions, despite the negative ramifications and impact on the global economy, as the banks crafted a discourse-based response that ignored the complexity of the discussion, policy changes, and regulation required to prevent another financial crisis.

This article seeks to spur future study on strategic financial and economic communication. Work at the intersection of public policy, economics, and strategic communication has begun to examine this area of interdisciplinary research, but scholars need to do more to bridge work from these different disciplines, using multiple methods, in order to examine the impact of economic policy communication on organizational financial performance, the economy, and crises.

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70-20-10 and the Dominance of Informal Learning

[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Alan Clardy of Towson University. Dr. Clardy recently published an article in the Human Resource and Development Review entitled “70-20-10 and the Dominance of Informal Learning: A Fact in Search of Evidence,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Clardy reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:]


What motivated you to pursue this research?

I reviewed the recent book “Using Experience to Develop Leadership Talent” for Personnel Psychology a few years ago. In that book, mention was made in an off-handed factual way at several points to a 70-20-10 rule. I had two reactions: I wasn’t that familiar with that rule, and I started to wonder where the original data could be found. I found myself wanting to see the original studies but the more I looked, the more disappointed I became. Then I wanted to discover where this 70-20-10 “fact” really came from.

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

As I note my article, the literature on this matter is scattered and not particularly integrated. So back-tracking through citations, then finding the original sources became a chore at times. Perhaps the biggest challenge was looking through these original studies to see if they mentioned at 70% rule and/or presented any data for a 70% rule.

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

It was not uniquely innovative but doing a search for root data in a dispersed literature is somewhat distinctive. Even though I’m sure I did not identify every instance in which a 70-20-10 rule has been noted, I am pleased that I was able to identify as much as I did and then to organize and report it in a more coherent and connected manner.

My academic grounding in HRD has a strong foundation in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Interestingly, the chapters on employee training and development in all standard I/O textbooks and, as I’m recalling, texts on Organization Behavior do not cover, much less mention informal learning experiences. I/O texts, for example, focus almost exclusively on formal training. It would be a mistake to conclude from my paper that I disagree with the notion that much learning about job and work occurs “informally”. Rather, there is a great deal of evidence that much learning does occur “informally”. What I was objecting to was the dogmatic and unqualified assertion that 70% of job/work of all learning happens informally. So, if my article could help generate coverage of “informal” learning in I/O and OB texts, I think that would be a beneficial impact on all of these fields. I do call for more research on how to structure various kinds of “informal” learning venues to improve their effectiveness; seeing more of that would also be a positive impact.

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When Is There a Sustainability Case for Corporate Social Responsibility?

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Minna Halme of Aalto University School of Business, Jukka Rintamäki of City University of London, Jette Steen Knudsen of Tufts University, Leena Lankoski of Aalto University School of Business, and Mika Kuisma of Aalto University School of Business. They recently published an article in Business & Society entitled “When Is There a Sustainability Case for CSR? Pathways to Environmental and Social Performance Improvements,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Miklian reflects on the impact and innovations of this research:]


What motivated you to pursue this research?

While this article focuses on sustainability performance, it is based on a joint research project of 12 universities which originally set out to study societal impacts of CSR. We were motivated by the fact that there is so little research on societal impacts CSR, and so much need for it among policy makers and non-governmental organizations.

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

The difficulty of getting data on impacts of companies’ CSR activities took us by surprise. We had chosen a sample of companies that – based on publicly available ratings – were either leading or good CSR performers, but data on societal impacts of CSR was still scarce. And not only scarce: CSR practices, performance and impacts were often also confused with one another in the company reporting and in managers’ oral accounts. It took massive cross-checking of interview data, and public and internal document data to get the study done.

It also became strikingly evident that in the end of the day researchers as well as sustainability ratings are at the mercy of companies’ self-reported sustainability data. Databases and ratings such as the KDL, Asset4 or the like tend to be viewed as reliable data. Investors and management academics measuring corporate sustainability performance widely use these ratings as if they were drawn from “hard objective data”. In reality such data is self-reported by companies.

Aggravating the risk of mismeasurement is that these schemes are untransparent: users (researchers, investors) do not necessarily know what data exactly composes each indicator. This is paradoxical as for research purposes it is considered positive if “the performance data is from an external source” – a statement which effectively closes the door from discussion about validity problems of performance data used. Sustainability databases should make their performance measurement data more transparent so that users have a means to assess what has been measured as environmental and social performance.

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

We separated CSR activities (antecedents of sustainability performance) from the performance itself, and did not rely on narrow data but instead constructed performance schemes for assessing both environmental and social performance. In addition to management researchers, our team had wide sustainability performance knowledge base from natural science to social sustainability studies. We used both externally available and internal document data, interviewed companies as well as met with their stakeholders to complement and verify the data. In other words, we went beyond analysts adhering to data sets like KDL, Asset4 or TRI.
Our configurational approach makes it possible to discover that different pathways are associated with environmental and social performance (non)improvements, and that pathways to success and failure are for the most part not symmetrical, which has not been shown before with any larger dataset.

We expect that our research will encourage more informative future research on the influence of CSR policies and practices onto sustainability performance. We hope it raises the bar for more comprehensive future measurement of sustainability performance of companies, making the research in the field more useful for policy makers who seek to steer corporate performance and for company managers, who struggle to understand what kind of CSR is beneficial for improvement of sustainability performance.

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Congratulations to the 2017 Family Business Review’s Outstanding Article

We would like to welcome and congratulate authors, Daniel T. Holt of Mississippi State University, Kristen Madison of Mississippi State University, and Franz W. Kellermanns of the University of Nother Caroline at Charlotte and WHU-Otto Beisheim. Their article, “Variance in Family Members’ Assessments: The Importance of Dispersion Modeling in Family Firm Research”  published in the Family Business Review, recently won the Family Business Review’s 2017 Outstanding Article Award. Below is the abstract of the article, which will be free to read for a short time.

fbra_30_2.coverThe extent to which assessments are shared across family members and generations has been questioned, suggesting that the variability in the family members’ perceptions may convey important family-level information. With this in mind, we theoretically and methodologically introduce dispersion modeling which is designed to use this variance as an important explanatory variable, presenting a framework that can guide scholars in its application. Using field data to apply the framework, we illustrate how this modeling approach helps us understand the dynamic interactions within family firms, and then we offer future research ideas that are best suited to dispersion composition modeling.

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The Generative Interplay Between Learning and Playing in Managing and Organizing

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Barbara Simpson of the University of Strathclyde, Dr. Rory Trace of the University of Strathclyde, and Dr. Alia Weston of OCAD University. They recently published an article in Management Learning entitled “Traveling concepts: Performative movements in learning/playing,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Simpson reveals the inspiration for conducting this research :]

mlqb_48_3.coverWhat drew the three of us together to write this article was our shared interest in the generative interplay between learning and playing. We each approach this topic differently – Barbara takes a dynamic practice approach, Rory is interested in understanding creative action , and Alia comes from the perspective of researching non-conventional work practices – but we were sure that our differences could be productively co-informing. The underlying thread of commonality amongst us is a deep commitment to a process ontology, which invites a performative reimagining of the relationship between theory and research methodology.

Our article offers novel contributions to theory, methodology, and the empirical domain of artisanal food production. In terms of theory, we propose a processual formulation of playing and learning as opposite sides of the same coin, inseparable and co-emergent. This theoretical framing then demands some new thinking about methodology, which we have responded to by developing the idea of travelling concepts. These, we suggest, can sensitize and orientate the researcher’s gaze when s/he joins in the emergent dynamics of organizing, acting as a traveller’s aid or rough guide to help understanding and to direct inquiry.

Playfulness runs throughout our theoretical and empirical arguments, but we also wanted to ‘walk our own talk’ by being playful in presenting our insights to readers. As a consequence, the journey towards publishing this article has presented its own unique challenges and rewards, however we do sincerely hope it will now provide inspiration to other researchers who are seeking to take different approaches to researching the social dynamics of organizing.

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Journal of Service Research Call for Papers: Customer Engagement through Automated Service Interactions

02JSR13_Covers.inddMake an impact on service research and submit to the Journal of Service Research’s upcoming Special Issue,  which will seek to explore ways in which automated service interactions engage customers and create customer and firm value!

Journal of Service Research (JSR), peer-reviewed and published quarterly, is widely considered the world’s leading service research journal. It is a must read to keep up with the latest in service research. Practical and readable, JSR offers the necessary knowledge and tools to cope with an increasingly service-based economy. JSR features articles by the world’s leading service experts, from both academia and the business world.

For more details click here.

Manuscripts should be submitted electronically to

You will need to create an account in order to submit your manuscript. The system will notify you once we receive the manuscript and have sent it out for review.

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Employees and Mental Illness

In 2018 the stigma of mental illness still plagues the workplace, along with the direct and indirect costs associated with healthcare and lost productivity. In the face of negative attributions attached to mental health conditions, how do employees manage their conditions as well as the demands of their jobs? How do organizations develop cultures and systems that allow employees with mental illness to thrive in their respective roles while minimizing the costs for workers and the companies who employ them? How is mental illness conceptualized as a unique social identity warranting increased attention in management research? What are the avenues for future scholarly attention?

A recent article offers insights and contributions to the literature, as well as raising implications for policy and practice. Kayla B. Follmer of Salisbury University and Kisha S. Jones of The Pennsylvania State University recently published “Mental Illness in the Workplace: An Interdisciplinary Review and Organizational Research Agenda” in the Journal of Management. With millions of adults affected annually by mental illness and many active in the workforce, the need is great to supplant the limited knowledge of many organizations and leaders on how to support employees with mental illness.

From the Abstract:

Given the prevalence of and consequences associated with mental illness in the workplace, we believe this review is both critical and timely for researchers and practitioners. This systematic review broadens the extant literature in both theoretical and practical ways in an effort to help lay a foundation for the organizational scholarship of employees with mental illness, a group that has traditionally been underrepresented in the management and industrial-organizational psychology literatures. After defining and conceptualizing mental illness as a social identity, we systematically review the existing empirical research on employees with mental illness across multiple fields of study. Using research that accounts for individual, other, and organizational perspectives, we present a model that outlines the performance, employment, career, and discriminatory outcomes that characterize the experiences of individuals with mental illness as well as individual and organizational strategies that moderate the relationship between having a mental illness and experiencing those outcomes. Together, this article provides a synthesis of what is known about employees with mental illness while also highlighting avenues for future scholarly attention.

Read the article for free until the end of April.

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