Computer-Mediated Group Brainstorming

Effects of Anonymity and Social Comparison of Rewards on Computer-Mediated Group Brainstorming“, by Poppy Lauretta McLeod of Cornell University, was recently published in Small Group Research OnlineFirst. Professor McLeod has provided a personal perspective on the article:

Who is the target audience for this article?

Researchers interested in the effects of anonymity on task performance in computer-mediated group communication; managers who use anonymous computer-mediated discussion forums in their organizations.

What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

I was inspired by a student who did her senior honor’s thesis on the topic.  Her initial interest was in technology, and talking with her helped me to recognitioon some assumptions about the effects of anonymity in reward distribution have not been questioned in research.

Were there findings that were surprising to you?

I was surprised that there were virtually no effects on idea quality.

How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

I hope it influences some assumptions about the effects of anonymity in reward distribution.  Anonymity removes public recognition, and this research shows that the lack of public recognition can reduce motivation.

How does this study fit into your body of work/line of research?

I am interested in sources of social influence in task-oriented groups.  This research focuses on the influence related to social comparisons.

How did your paper change during the review process?

Dick Moreland was terrific!  He helped me to focus the paper much more tightly on the social comparison processes, and to help me better see the complexity of social comparison processes.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could go back and do this study again?

I would counterbalance the order of the two tasks; I would consider adding an objective comparison standard; I would try to find a way to manipulate independently anonymity of communication and anonymity of reward delivery.

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Discourse-Centered Organizational Change

Towards a Discourse-Centered Understanding of Organizational Change“, by David Grant of the University of Sydney, and Robert J. Marshak of American University, Washington D.C., was recently published in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science OnlineFirst. David Grant has provided a personal background on the article:

Who is the target audience for this article?

 We wrote the paper with several audiences in mind: researchers interested in organizational discourse in general, and especially those who are pursuing lines of inquiry or practice that consider discourse and language as central to the conceptions and processes of change in organizations.

What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

Separately and together we have investigated and written about discursive phenomena (narratives, stories, accounts, metaphors, etc.) in organizational settings for many years. Recently, we have sought to focus more specifically on discourse and change. We had noticed an upswing in practitioner interest in interventions in organizations based around “changing the conversation”, but felt that this had taken place with insufficient theory or research to guide thinking and action.

Were there findings that were surprising to you?

Probably the most important surprise was the extent of the literature and findings that were related to the broad topic of discourse and change. We started the project with the assumption that there was considerable value in trying to pull the range of ideas about the topic together into a single framework, but the range of studies and ideas from multiple perspectives was perhaps more than we had originally anticipated. And, more is being published everyday!

How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

Our ambition is that the paper will encourage more research about discourse and change in general, and especially more research that provides a more integrated consideration of the multiple perspectives involved in discourse and change. We also see this paper as an important vehicle by which to inform the world of practice (change agents, consultants, etc.) about the discursive effects and possible approaches to organizational change.

How does this study fit into your body of work/line of research?

As previously suggested, this is a continuation and perhaps somewhat of a culmination of our individual and collective work on organizational discourse and discursive aspects of organizational change over the past 16 years or so.

How did your paper change during the review process?

The broad outline and intent stayed the same, but true to our topic considerable efforts were made regarding how best to contextualize, frame, and describe the phenomena we were writing about. The end result, we hope, is a clearer argument and presentation for both those new to the literature and those more deeply involved.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could go back and do this study again?

Perhaps, if one of us had moved closer to the other. Working between Sydney, Australia and Washington, DC was not really difficult with the internet, but there were certainly some times when being able to sit face-to-face over a beer would have been helpful. Two times especially come to mind: when the first reviews came back and when we got our final acceptance letter!

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Market Segmentation

Biclustering: Overcoming Data Dimensionality Problems in Market Segmentation” by Sara Dolnicar, Katie Lazarevski, both of the University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia, Sebastian Kaiser, and Friedrich Leisch, both of Ludwig-Maximilans-Universität, Munich, Germany, was recently published in the Journal of Travel Research OnlineFirst.  Sara Dolnicar gives us some background on the article below:

• Who is the target audience for this article?

Data analysts in industry and academia who conduct market segmentation.

• What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

I have been interested in market segmentation since my PhD in which I investigated the usefulness of neural networks as data analytic technique for market segmentation.

• Were there findings that were surprising to you?

It’s a new method, so there are no surprising insights as such. Instead we are offering a novel method to tackle methodological problems related to market segmentation.

• How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

Hopefully it will improve the methodological quality of research in this area.

• How does this study fit into your body of work/line of research?

Market segmentation methodology is the focus of my research and has been for about 15 years now. Although it is not a new problem that consumers need to be grouped and although methods for market segmentation have been available for a long time, there are still many gaps in the methodological toolbox for market segmentation. I am passionate about trying to fill this gaps bit by bit. This article is another piece of the puzzle.

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Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence and Transformational and Transactional Leadership: A Meta-Analysis”, by P.D. Harms of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, and Marcus Credé of State University of New York at Albany, was the most frequently read article in the Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies in 2010. P.D.  Harms has provided a brief perspective on the article.

Originally, we had no intention of doing research on emotional intelligence (EI) and leadership.   I (Harms) was aware that there was a great deal of scepticism surrounding the validity of EI measures, but was not that interested in it myself.  However, as I was doing a literature review of the antecedents of transformational leadership, I couldn’t help but notice that every few months someone would publish an article or write a dissertation using EI as a predictor of leadership and stating that there was a great deal of controversy regarding the link between EI and leadership.  Another curious thing was that very few researchers seemed aware of the extent of the prior literature on this topic.  This seemed like a great opening for meta-analytic research.  A controversial topic that was badly in need a comprehensive review.  So I phoned one of the most gifted meta-analysts I knew, Marcus Credé , and enlisted his help in gathering and coding the articles.  We had a feeling that this paper would make a big splash so we raced to complete the project in a matter of weeks.  
The results were stunning.  Although we found a robust relationship between EI and transformational leadership, this relationship seemed largely driven by poorly designed studies.  In particular, same-source method effects appeared to be responsible.  When we looked at the studies that employed better designs, the relationship between EI and leadership nearly disappeared.  This was true regardless of what EI measure we tested.  Our subsequent analyses showed that EI measures contributed 0% incremental validity above and beyond cognitive abilities and Big Five personality traits.  That is pretty conclusive evidence that either there is no relationship between EI and effective leadership or that EI measures are poorly designed.  Both explanations should give pause to anyone thinking about pursuing further research on this topic.
My hope for this article is that it is read by both researchers and practitioners.  Researchers investigating EI need to be aware of the severe limitations of the EI measures currently available.  They also need to consider how poorly designed studies (whether they deal with EI or not) can give rise to spurious effects.  As for practitioners, my hope is that they will see the need to demand that test publishers conduct proper validation studies before they sell assessment tools or make outrageous claims about the effectiveness of their products.

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Tax Preferences for Hybrid Cars

The Incidence of Hybrid Automobile Tax Preferences”, by B. Andrew Chupp of Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois, Katie Myles and E. Frank Stephenson, both of Berry College, Rome, Georgia, was one of the most frequently read articles in Public Finance Review in 2010. B. Andrew Chupp has provided additional background to the article:

Like many of the great articles at PFR, this piece was motivated by a desire to study the effects of public policies.  The hybrid vehicle tax credit was a widely promoted policy to encourage the use of hybrid vehicles, improve overall fuel economy, reduce pollution, and reduce dependence on foreign oil.  However, as with most policies, there can be unintended consequences:  namely, an increase in the price of hybrid vehicles due to increased demand.  It was this effect that we were trying to isolate.

This research is important because it makes people aware of the fact that public policies designed to improve consumer welfare often benefit producers as well.  In that sense, this article’s focus is important for public knowledge as well as for policy-makers, so that they can know what effects this program had in the real world.  An important next step is to focus on how well this policy achieved its goals as listed above.

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Leadership Development

Leadership Development via Action Learning”, by H. Skipton Leonard of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, and Fred Lang of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington D.C., was one of the most frequently read articles in Advances in Developing Human Resources in 2010. Here is a brief reflection from Skipton Leonard:

I have been quite fortunate to be in the leading edge of consulting psychologist scientist/practitioners in the US to apply Action Learning to develop individuals, teams and organizations. I was quite experienced in the experiential methodologies used in the US over the past 3 or 4 decades and believed that what I had been doing all these years was Action Learning. It was only when I started using the principles and practices of the Action Learning methodology that Dr. Mike Marquardt had been developing that I began to appreciate and understand how much more effective this disciplined approach was than the methods I had used in the past (and got pretty good results from).

This methodology is still evolving and we are strengthening our research to determine was works, what can be improved, and what changes we will try going forward. These are the questions that have always advanced the practice of Action Learning and will continue to do so in the future.

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Institutional Entrepreneurship

The State, Power, and Agency: Missing in Action in Institutional Theory?”, by Stewart Clegg of the University of Technology, Sydney, was one of the most frequently read articles in the Journal of Management Inquiry in 2010. Stewart has provided a brief reflection on the article:

The story behind the article is quite simple: I was invited to speak at a one-day conference at the University of New South Wales Australian Business School on Institutional Theory. The conference was built around a visit by Roy Suddaby to the School. The conference organisers asked me to address the introduction to the as then forthcoming Handbook of Institutional Theory of which Roy was a co-editor. The introduction was pretty hard to get into because it was discussing the chapters in the handbook – none of which, of course, I had read. Moreover, when Roy made his presentation he didn’t really stick to the introduction anyway. I had prepared a few critical remarks about institutional theory that came from my interest and work in power. To my surprise roy seemed to agree with most of the remarks that I made. The paper had a particular construction. Thinking of examples to make my points I came up with a number of examples that drew on the state and on questions of agency, hence the title of the paper. It was never intended as much more than a quick conference paper but someone, I am not sure who but it was probably Roy, suggested that i send it to the JMI because they might be interested – so I did and they were. The reviewers were broadly supportive and suggested a few changes, which I duly made. I never imagined that it would generate a great deal of interest as i am not probably thought of as a member of the institutional theory camp – although I guess I could be; however, I have always tended to try and resist labelling in the interests of nomadic theorizing.

I think that the interest in the article arose because it put the finger on some of the more mechanical aspects of institutional theory and suggested that the theory has a conservative political bias, that it is really a modern representation of functionalist theory – with all its flaws. For many younger researchers today functionalism is probably something they never leaned about in graduate school – perhaps because it was largely a sociological debate and a debate that occurred before they were born. So the idea that what appears as new theory is actually quite old might have seemed an innovative idea. The paper reported no empirical research but it did reflect my abiding interest in all forms of politics, from which I drew the cases that I used as examples.

Overall, the paper is closely related to a project that has just given birth to a new Sage book, Strategy: Theory and Practice (Clegg, Carter, Kornberger and Schweitzer 2011). This project is one of repositioning Management and Organization Theory, in this case Strategy, in a frame in which power relations are paramount, essential and central. Thus the paper forms a part of a series of works; for instance, some of the ideas in the paper were first canvassed in The Sage Handbook of Power (Clegg & Haugaard 2009). In turn, the paper was related to earlier interventions in the journal Strategic Organization, which addressed the incoherence of fashionable strategy-as-practie positions. In all these cases the analysis that i made reached back into ethnomethodological studies with a power twist. Such work has been a key element in my thinking for the past 35 years, so in some respects, there wasn’t a lot that was new for me in the paper – but to the extent that it has not been incorporated into mainstream positions the arguments might have seemed new to those who were not familiar with my work. Either that or there was a demand for my work that I never knew about! I don’t know which of these might be correct.

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