About Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

Notes on the Meaning of Work

[We’re pleased to welcome author, Anne-Laure Fayard of New York University. She recently published an article in the Journal of Management Inquiry entitled “Notes on the Meaning of Work: Labor, Work, and Action in the 21st Century” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, she reflects on the backstory and motivation for this research:]

This piece is a reflective essay that I started a few years ago when I submitted a paper for a subtheme “Reflections on New Worlds of Work” for the EGOS conference. I had at the time two ongoing projects where the concept of “work” emerged as relevant: one was a research project on an open innovation platform for social innovation where I observed people spending a lot of time working on developing ideas and / or giving feedback to other participants although they did not seem to see it as work. At the same time, I had been noticing an increasing dissatisfaction with managers in a big international company where they kept complaining that their work has become boring and felt more like labor than work. These two empirical observations made me curious to explore more how people interpreted work as well as whether work as a practice has changed. Having been trained as a philosopher, I could not help to go back to texts and philosophers I’ve read. This led to a first version that I presented at the conference and the feedback was positive overall.

About a year later, I started reading more and more about AI, automation and future of work. I was invited to various seminars and working groups. One thing that was obvious to me was that the debates, sometime fierce, did not reflect one single understanding of the concept of work. In fact, that was one of the sources of the debates. It seemed to me that turning to philosophy would be generative. Indeed, one of the main preoccupations of philosophy is to clarify, through the analysis of meaning, the questions at stake. A philosophical analysis thus provides concepts that can explain empirical phenomena. I felt that the exploratory piece I had previously written had become particularly timely in the context of the debates on the future of work, and thus I revised it and submitted it to the Journal of Management Inquiry. I was lucky to have an editor and reviewers who thought my endeavor was worthwhile and pushed me to clarify and deepen my argument. In the process, the empirical focus (my original starting point) shifted on the gig economy. Along the way I read a lot about the issues and mobile on-demand platforms such as Uber. I also engaged with literatures that I did not know about and enjoyed learning about and integrating them in my thinking. One of the reviewers framed the review process as a constructive conversation and while the review process does not always feel like this, in this case, it really did feel like a constructive conversation where the reviewers suggested directions to explore theoretically and empirically. In the end, I hope these notes on the meaning of work will provide conceptual distinctions productive for the analysis of the “new worlds of work.”

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How Perceived Control Motivates the Individualization of Work–Life Conflict

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Alison T. Wynn of Stanford University and Aliya Hamid Rao of Singapore Management University. They recently published an article in the ILR Review entitled “Failures of Flexibility: How Perceived Control Motivates the Individualization of Work–Life Conflict,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they recount the motivations for this research.]

While working as a management consultant for two years prior to graduate school, the first author, Alison Wynn, experienced firsthand the intensive work-life expectations that characterize the industry—and many other high-status industries. She became fascinated by the cultural underpinnings of the long hours, extensive travel, and emphasis on “face time.” Despite robust efforts on the part of companies to offer cutting-edge flexibility programs, she could see these programs fell short of their intended effects – providing employees with viable solutions to work-life conflict. This motivated us to pursue research exploring these challenges in more depth.

In an article that was recently published based on some of these data, we analyzed 50 in-depth interviews with management consultants at the top firms. We focused on exactly this issue: management consulting firms provide amongst the best flexibility policies intended to help their employees manage the extensive demands of their work. Yet, in line with our own initial impressions – and as previous research has documented – these policies were not enthusiastically embraced by employees. Why? Prior research has highlighted the role of “flexibility stigma,” which is the notion that using flexibility policies sends a signal to colleagues and superiors that you are not serious about your work. While compelling, we felt this was an incomplete explanation. In our manuscript, we argue that “perceived control” – or the sense control that employees feel they have over managing their work-life conflicts – is a powerful motivator in imbuing a sense of agency and encouraging private and individual solutions to work-life conflict.

In the article, we explain various aspects of perceived control: for example, how our participants saw managing their work-life commitments as a professional test, and how they viewed their ability to manage their work-life challenges as a testament to their suitability for this profession. But one important element that did not make it into the final manuscript was the problematic definition of success at these companies. The very understanding of what makes an employee successful contains built-in assumptions – such as the assumption that long hours translate to better results – when the reality often starkly contrasts with these assumptions. This definition of success was reinforced both culturally, in company norms, as well as structurally, in project assignments and evaluation procedures. By enshrining a definition of success wedded to ideal worker norms, companies create an environment that casts doubt upon flexibility programs promising work-life balance; employees wonder whether they can use available flexibility programs without compromising their own success.

Our study provides evidence that flexibility policies will continue to fall short until and unless they are accompanied by cultural shifts in what “success” entails and how much workplaces can demand from their employees.

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Short- and Long-Term Effects of Nonconsciously Processed Ambient Scents in a Servicescape

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Anna Girard of Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, Marcel Lichters of Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, Marko Sarstedt of
Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, and Dipayan Biswas of the University of South Florida. They recently published an article in Journal of Service Research entitled “Short- and Long-Term Effects of Nonconsciously Processed Ambient Scents in a Servicescape: Findings From Two Field Experiments,” which is currently free to read. Below, they reflect on this research:]

Have you ever walked past, or entered, a Victoria’s Secret or an Abercrombie & Fitch store? If so, you might have noticed a distinctive ambient scent. One can speculate that possible goals for having ambient scents might be to create a pleasant atmosphere, improve their customers’ service experience, or simply mask bad smells in their retail stores. Importantly, Victoria’s Secret or Abercrombie & Fitch are not alone in its efforts to leverage ambient scents. With an annual growth rate of 10% and a volume of over USD 200 million in 2017, the market for ambient scents is growing rapidly.

It is therefore not surprising that ambient scents have also received considerable attention in academic research. Prior research in this domain has revealed that pleasant ambient scents have a positive influence on consumers’ perceptions, of for example, the physical servicescape and on their brand evaluations. We extend this research stream and examine whether the positive effects also hold when consumers are repeatedly exposed to ambient scents without being aware of it. And do the positive effects prevail in a service environment, characterized by many different olfactory influences (e.g., malodors) – as it is often the case in real-world service settings? How do consumers react to the discontinuation of a scent campaign?

We quickly realized that answering these research questions is very challenging in a laboratory setting, where consumers (typically students) are exposed to an ambient scent under highly controlled conditions – as commonly done in prior scent research. Evaluating the long-term effects in an olfactory-rich environment requires collaborating with an industry partner who would grant us access to its servicescape over several weeks, ideally months. Finding such a partner was very challenging, but the study’s first author, Anna Girard, managed to convince a regional subsidiary of Germany’s major railway company to support the project as well as to involve a professional fragrance manufacturer who designed two different scents that fit its servicescape. Our first task was to identify the most appropriate scent and the optimal level of intensity, which we did by running a series of pretests. We found that even in the highest intensity levels, most customers did not notice the scent – that is, they processed the scent nonconsciously.

Next, we exposed the customers to the ambient scent diffused via the train’s air conditioning system over a period of four months. Our results not only confirm ambient scent’s positive short-term effect, but show that the use of a nonconsciously processed long-term ambient scent has an enduring, positive impact on consumers’ evaluations of service quality, service experience, and service value. Furthermore, our results indicate that ambient scents’ positive effect on service evaluations persists for at least two weeks after the ambient scent has been withdrawn.

Our research produced some further striking findings, which we couldn’t report in the published paper. Most notably, we also queried consumers’ satisfaction with the service provider and brand attitude and found no notable improvements in these constructs over time. We also ran a series of qualitative interviews with several of the participants. These interviews confirmed that most participants did not notice any special scent and that they were generally in favor of introducing a pleasant ambient scent into the train compartments.

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The Key to Getting off on the Right Foot – A conversation with James Timpson on Hiring Offenders

[We’re pleased to welcome authors, Jenna Pandeli and Nicholas O’Regan of the University of the West of England. They recently published an article in the Journal of Management Inquiry entitled “Risky Business? The Value of Employing Offenders and Ex-Offenders: An Interview With James Timpson, Chief Executive of Timpson” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they reflect on the motivations for this research:]


James Timpson delivered a distinguished address at UWE Bristol, following which this paper was completed. I was delighted to be part of the interview team in adding the analysis and reflections to the interview given my research background in offender employment. My PhD research explored the employment of prisoner in private industries during their incarceration (Pandeli et al, 2018) and I am passionate about developing the use of employment as a form of rehabilitation rather than as simply a tool to pass time for prisoners, or as a form of additional income for the prison.

James’s approach provides an example of great practice for working with offenders; he works with them during their incarceration and then provides many with the opportunity to work for Timpson’s upon release. This type of ‘through the gates’ care is exactly what is needed and should be encouraged. Much of the literature on hiring offenders does point towards this approach, and so it is great to provide a real-life example of how this is working in practice to show how the theoretical and practical can go hand-in-hand.

One of the key motivations for writing this ‘meet the person’ piece is the positive impact that we might be able to have by presenting an employer’s insight into working with offenders, to show how providing these individuals with the opportunity to undertake meaningful, empowering work can have a positive impact on their lives and reduce the likelihood of them returning to crime. We believe that this can be useful to a wide range of practitioners including policy makers, the prison and probation service as well as other employers who may be thinking about working with offenders.

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Balancing Frontliners’ Customer- and Coworker-Directed Behaviors When Serving Business Customers

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Michel van der Borgh of Copenhagen Business School, Ad de Jong of Copenhagen Business School, and Edwin J. Nijssen of Eindhoven University of Technology. They recently published an article in Journal of Service Research entitled “Balancing Frontliners’ Customer- and Coworker-Directed Behaviors When Serving Business Customers,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they reflect on this research:]

What motivated you to pursue this research?

The motivation for our research emerged from observations that prior literature mainly considered frontline employee (FLE) behaviors in isolation. This stands in sharp contrast with day-to-day practice where FLE’s constantly have to juggle between different tasks for different stakeholders. It is analogous to scholars who constantly have to balance time between research and teaching, among other things. Before this study we did some research on ambidexterity, which focusses more on paradoxical situations where FLE’s seem to be making trade-offs. Although the idea of ambidexterity also fits our research on customer-coworker balance, we felt that the theoretical underpinning was weak. When looking for other theoretical framework we realized that our situation of salespeople trying to balance multiple duties was very similar to something that many people can relate to; work-life balance. Looking into this stream of literature we found some articles pointing to role balance theory, which is rooted in role theory. The ideas of this theoretical framework matched very much with our observations of employees in the frontline. So, our motivation was borne out of personal observations, our knowledge of extant research, and new insights from related fields.

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

In our study we employ a novel approach to study balance. While previous studies on ambidexterity and work-life balance often used difference scores or multiplicative measures of both roles, we employ surface response modeling to tease out the interrelationship between customer and coworker-directed behaviors on performance. We were inspired by a 2014 study by Mullins et al. in the Journal of Marketing who employed the same analytical approach to investigate salesperson perceptional accuracy of customer relationship quality. All in all, our work demonstrates that the surface response modeling approach using polynomial regression techniques is better in capturing true effects. We urge future research to apply a similar approach.

What did not make it into your published manuscript that you would like to share with us?

In our paper we decided not to explicitly link our research with the research on ambidexterity since it complicated the already complex story. This is a pity as ambidexterity research also would benefit handsomely from applying these more advanced analytical approaches to examine the true effects of, for instance exploration and exploitation on performance outcomes.

How important is it for customers to have a positive experience when dealing with a company? The evidence from all manner of research disciplines (Psychology, Management, and Marketing) and reports from the field by consultants and managers is that this encounter is absolutely critical. In the field of services marketing the place where this encounter happens is called the “organizational frontlines.” The frontlines refers to everything that occurs when the customer is in contact with the company: the people, the technology, the facilities and the processes. Research on organizational frontlines has focused in on the immediate contact of the customer with the company, especially contact with employees who serve them and the technology that serves them. This research reveals that knowledgeable and skilled service employees and technology that is accurate, speedy and easy to use play important roles in meeting customer expectations and producing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

This commentary on a special issue of the Journal of Service Research that was about organizational frontlines asks the following question: What kind of company context produces the employees and the technology that meets customers’ expectations and satisfies them? That is, given the importance of what happens at the frontlines the commentary considers what companies can do to ensure that what happens there is maximally positive. So, what can companies do?

We propose that companies must have the following mind-sets to create a context in which customers’ experience at the frontlines is optimal:

1. They must have a socio-technical systems mind-set. Socio-technical systems understand that there is no such thing as technology that stands alone. A socio-technical mind-set ensures that those who design and implement technology have those who use it (employees) and those who are served by it (customers) as there focus.

2. They must have a service climate mind set. A service climate mind-set is created in companies when HR, Marketing and Operations all work together to ensure that the people, the products/services, and the technology of a company all focus in on producing a positive customer experience. These functions can’t be silos because they all impact customers. These functions work together well when there is an internal service mind-set as well: “We help each other produce for our customers.”

3. They must have a strong service HR systems mind-set. Employees who deal immediately with customers must be only one focus of HR; as noted earlier, a service mind-set is critical also in those who design and implement technology and, we would add, those who design products and services.

4. They must have a multi-level mind-set. Companies must see themselves as containing three important levels: A managerial level, an employee level and a customer level. Thus, companies can’t divorce the customer from the company and executives can’t divorce employees from their strategies. In service organizations these different levels are in continuous interaction—at least in the best such companies.

Our proposal is that, while it is very important to focus on what happens in the immediate encounter at the company frontlines, there must also be focus on the context that produces what happens there. Our commentary addresses critical elements of that context and the mind-sets management must have if they wish to deliver excellent service.

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How to Improve Written Case Analysis and Reduce Grading Time

[Professors Kirsten A. Passyn of Citadel Military College of South Carolina and M. J. Billups of the Baker School of Business recently published a research article in the Journal of Marketing Education which is entitled “How to Improve Written Case Analysis and Reduce Grading Time: The One-Page, Two-Case Method.” We are delighted to welcome them as contributors, and their article will be free to read for a limited time. Below, they reveal the inspirations behind this research.]

I learned and became a believer in the case method while pursuing my post-doctorate at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Case learning was a regular part of the curriculum at both the undergraduate and MBA level. It was an excellent way to engage students in business problem-solving. Later, at other schools where the case method was not a regular part of the curriculum, I found the case method overwhelming for both myself and my students. I couldn’t find a method in the literature to use cases that would work in my new position, so I determined to find a way to easily and effectively use cases. I developed the One-Page, Two Case Method over a period of years with a series of trial and error testing. The method presented in the paper not only improves student performance on cases but significantly decreases faculty workload. I’ve successfully tested the method at other schools and received feedback from colleagues, all with similar positive results.

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Designing a Human Resource Management Simulation to Engage Students

[Professors Andrea North-Samardzic of Deakin University Victoria and Marlize de Witt of the University of Waikato recently published a research article in the Journal of Management Education which is entitled “Designing a Human Resource Management Simulation to Engage Students“. We are delighted to welcome them as contributors, and their article will be free to read for a limited time. Below they reveal the inspirations and influences behind their research.]


What motivated you to pursue this research?

I wanted to use a simulation in my classes but couldn’t find one that fit my needs as well as being proven to lead to positive student outcomes. So in the grand tradition of ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ I created one myself.

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

I thought that the students who navigated the software in the simulation program would find it more engaging. But the findings showed that we have tremendous capacity to create new and interesting simulations in traditional learning management systems. You don’t always need new and shiny technology to engage students.

The biggest challenge was finding students to participate in the lab tests and focus group. We can’t provide credit to students for research participation.

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

The roadmap we provide for designing, developing and testing the simulation will hopefully inspire others to create their own simulations. Buying software licenses can be expensive. So why not create your own and test it to show how and why it works?

What did not make it into your published manuscript that you would like to share with us?

There was a lot more attention to design science in the earlier drafts. I was a bit too hung up on this and it took awhile for my co-author to convince me to let it go. Kathi Lovelace was also an incredible editor and helped us with really refining the contribution too and advising us on what to play down and what to emphasise.

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

Make sure you share your work with others in development stages and rewrites no matter how rough the drafts or embryonic the ideas. If things get stuck, you may like to bring on another person as a co-author. I tried to publish the work as a sole author but it didn’t quite hit the mark. Working with Marlize to rewrite and reposition the paper made the world of difference.

Also it took a long time to bring this article to publication. That’s ok. Hang in there. Scholarship is a marathon, not a sprint.

What is the most important/ influential piece of scholarship you’ve read in the last year?

Kathy Lund Dean and Jeanie M. Forray’s editorial ‘Teaching and Learning in an Age of (In)credulity: Facts and “Alternative Facts” in the Classroom’ really spoke to me even though they said some things I didn’t necessarily want to hear at first. It has lead me to do a lot of critical self-reflection about my role as educator and ‘expert’ in the room and how I need to adapt to better address current concerns. For me, a great piece of scholarship not only makes you think about the topic but makes you think about yourself.

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