Should a Marketer be on the Board of Directors?

SAGE is proud to feature a fascinating interview with author Kimberly Whitler,  Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, Kim, Ryan Krause, Texas Christian University and Donald Lehmann, Columbia University, recently published their paper, titled “When and How Board Members with Marketing Experience Facilitate Firm Growth,” in the September 2018 issue of Journal of Marketing

[Reblogged from the American Marketing Association, Marketing News Marketer Representation at the Board Level Can Drive Growth. So Why Are They Underrepresented?]

​”No Kim, you don’t understand: Never, ever should a marketer be on a board.”

Kimberly Whitler remembers having to keep herself from shaking with anger when she heard this response. The comment came from a European businessman she was interviewing, she says, a man who had sat on many boards over the years, mostly in manufacturing. She found his opinion dogmatic and short-sighted. “It just didn’t make sense to me,” she says.

Whitler calmed herself. “Help me understand,” she remembers saying, “what is it that makes you think that marketers are never valuable on the board.”

“Well, marketing is largely luck,” he responded. “And it’s not strategic.” Whitler asked what functions were strategic, to which he replied, “Operations.”

Whitler says that she nearly fell out of her chair—operations is strategic but marketing isn’t?, she thought. Instead of telling him that he was wrong, she kept listening and realized that the way he thought made sense: The boards he had served on likely marginalized marketing, shunning it as a waste of time and money, never treating it as a strategic function or giving it a chance to drive growth. How could he think that marketers should be on boards if he’s never worked with a good marketer?

Whitler—who earned her Ph.D. in marketing in 2014 after two decades as a high-level marketing practitioner and now works as an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business—wanted to explore what effect marketers could have on boards. After eight years of research and writing, Whitler and two colleagues—Ryan Krause and Donald Lehmann—published their paper, titled “When and How Board Members with Marketing Experience Facilitate Firm Growth,” in the September 2018 issue of Journal of Marketing.

Numbers in the paper show a stark reality: Although 16% of boards have at least one member with high-level marketing experience, a survey of board members showed that only 4% believe that marketing experience is important. Ninety percent of boards with a marketer have only one; 9% have two and less than 1% have three marketers. They found no boards had more than three marketers.

But there’s room for hope: Whitler, Krause and Lehmann analyzed 64,086 biographies of board members who sat on Standard & Poor’s 1500 firms between 2007 and 2012, searching for those with marketing experience. They found that firms with at least one experienced marketer on the board had revenue increases of 5.78 percentage points compared with firms with no marketers on board. The researchers found evidence suggesting that boards with experienced marketers are positively associated with future business growth, but say that this relationship is “highly contingent.” For example, growth is stronger when the firm’s economic circumstances demand marketing expertise—namely, when the company’s market share is weak and its industry is experiencing weak growth. What does it take to make a board pay attention to marketing? Perhaps a single marketer, the paper says, but “[the marketer’s] ability to do so depends on the extent to which they can influence the board and the extent to which the board can influence the [top management team​].” The lack of marketers on boards “impairs firms’ ability to tackle demand-side problems, even though boards and CEOs consider growth generation among their most challenging problems,” the paper says. This is a contradiction, the authors write, which suggests that boards can’t see the connection between their inability to address growth challenges and their lack of marketing experience.

Marketing News spoke with Whitler about her research, board-level aversion to marketing expertise and how marketers can win more influence in the years ahead. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Marketing News: Why has so little research been done on how marketing influences the board?

Whitler: Management believes that it’s a marketing issue and marketing has historically said upper echelon stuff—governance, boards—is the realm of management. I’m hopeful that some of the work that’s been done at the CMO level—like the work Frank Germann, Peter Ebbes and Rajdeep Grewal have been done on why the CMO matters—makes an impact on the firm. There’s hope, energy and excitement for marketing to weigh in and potentially even lead the marketing conversation in the upper echelons of the firm.

MN: Why do boards seem averse to marketing expertise?

Whitler: There has been research done on management that demonstrates that board members are susceptible to in-group bias, just like the rest of us are. In this case, the in-group bias is functional. If you have a board of all finance people, they all use the same language, they’re all trained in a similar way and all see the firm in a similar way. When given a choice, they’d love to hire more finance folks.

That collides with something else that happened: In 2002, the U.S. passed the Sarbanes–Oxley Act after the implosion of Enron, WorldCom and others. It’s a regulation that mandated all boards must have financial experts and it held boards more accountable for firm performance. After that regulation passed, boards structured themselves differently. There are fewer board members—part of the reason is that the requirements of board members went up and it was tougher to get sitting CEOs on the board. Also, the average size of boards tended to go down. You’re now being mandated to have a finance expert on the board because of the need to monitor the firm’s performance. There was this rapid shift toward pushing for more regulatory-type experts on the board—finance, accounting, maybe legal in some cases, but a lot of finance experts. So now you have a shrinking average board and more of one function and one mindset. What happens on any team when you start getting a dominant group? Is it possible that you might look for more people like yourself?

Now the mindset of the board chiefs changes and their desire to bring in marketers lessens. This is all a hypothesis—I’m still pulling together pieces of information. But over time, we’ve had regulatory and marketplace changes that have driven structure and composition changes. Then on top of that, we know that in-group bias exists at the board level. These are problems.

MN: One section of your paper says that this bias against marketers is most likely to be held by CFOs. How can marketers change that bias?

Whitler: Marketers and finance people come from very different thought worlds. In managerial research, it’s well recorded that there’s been some conflict between the two functions. Finance tends to manage the purse strings, but marketers are trying to engineer growth. Engineering growth oftentimes requires investment, so they think differently. Marketers have a growth mindset and an external mindset, while finance is a more inwardly focused, throughput-oriented function. They have different orientations and they’re oftentimes pitted against each other.

The nature of these two has to be in balance for the company to work well. You need both sides—it’s the yin and yang. I would suggest that you want both functions to look for the value in the other. But if I’m talking to a marketing community, the onus is on us to help. We’re in charge of changing consumers’ minds. If you have an obstacle inside the company where a function doesn’t value you, we should have an expertise in being able to affect that belief.

MN: In 2018, Spencer Stuart reported that a large number of CMOs were changing jobs; some CMOs changed companies, some lost jobs. Are companies—perhaps even marketers themselves—still confused about what, exactly, a high-level marketer does and how they should be measured?

Whitler: Yes. Over the course of the last eight or nine years, I’ve conducted 500 or 600 interviews—I’ve talked to CMOs, CEOs and executive recruiters. Nobody really understands the variance in the marketing function.

I’ll give you an example: I was talking to a marketer who graduated from a top MBA program. He worked at a large beverage company before taking a promotion to work at a tech company. I know from my research that those marketing roles are totally different. At the beverage company, he led strategy for the brand; he was in the driver’s seat. In tech, marketing follows. He had moved from one type of marketing role that was a leadership, strategic role to one where marketing was not valued nearly as much. It was more of a support staff for the engineers. After all my interviews, I knew that would be a horrible shift. I asked him, “Knowing what you now know, would you have taken the job at the tech firm?” He said, “Absolutely not.”

The problem is that he did not know of the variance in roles. All he knows is levels: He knows that a director is senior to a brand manager and so he’s looking at a very blue-chip tech company going, gosh, everybody thinks this is a great company! Well, it is—for engineers; not as much for marketers. All he evaluated was brand name is good, level is better and money is better. That’s the degree of his assessment and he jumped. Now, his training is not a great fit and the job is not what he thought it would be.

MN: If marketers don’t even know their roles, how can CEOs or the board know?

Whitler: CEOs are not experts in CMO roles. I’ve interviewed folks who have had five, six or seven different CMO roles—they get it because they’ve lived through the pain. But somebody who’s had one or two CMO roles doesn’t know enough to figure it out.

MN: Do CMOs and marketers consider who is on the board when looking for a new company?

Whitler: CMOs have not historically thought about the board. My hope is that our research will help them understand how who’s on the board can affect them. Just something as simple as: Are you invited to board meetings? Because if you have an advocate—a marketer—on the board, they’re more likely to want to hear from the CMO and the firm.

MN: Is increasing influence as simple as having one board member with marketing experience?

Whitler: In our dataset of over 65,000 board member biographies, we don’t have much incidence of board members being marketers. Roughly 16% of boards have marketers, but it’s typically one person. We don’t have boards with six or seven marketers on them, so we don’t have a large sample. But I can give you a story of how the power of just one individual can change everything.

I spoke with a woman who is on the boards of multiple large companies. On one board, in an industry with monopoly-like power, she was the first marketer on the board. I asked her, “Do marketers matter? Help me understand what type of impact you have.” She said that when she got to the board, she was fascinated because her experience had been in industries where marketers were drivers of firms—she had that profit-and-loss marketing experience. For her to enter an industry where marketing has not historically been very important and many of the firms have monopoly power, she noticed that the thinking is quite different. During her first meetings, she just observed and said that the board didn’t talk about the consumer or the customer. Not once. She’s on other boards and she’s a very successful practitioner who had reached the C-level at large, respected companies—to sit through a board meeting and not hear anybody talk about the external consumer was somewhat shocking to her. She also asked about their digital strategy, because that was a hot topic at that point. After the board meeting, she was pulled aside and told that digital is a tactical discussion and they, at the board level, don’t deal with tactical discussions.

Now, three to four years later, digital transformation is a core strategy of the company. They talk about the consumer all the time and they even have somebody at the C-level who is in charge of consumer engagement. How did that happen? How does one voice change the strategic direction of the firm? I started probing, asking her questions, and she said, “I just started helping them see the future. They currently have a monopoly, but in the future they will not. I started showing them trend information data and where the industry is going. And then I simply asked questions.”

MN: Is one voice on the board enough to influence the top management team—CEOs, CFOs, CMOs?

Whitler: One of the things that surprised me most when I did the interviews with the marketing board members is how engaged they were with the internal marketing apparatus of the firm. We’re taught, historically, that the board meets four times a year and has very little direct interaction with the management team. Obviously, they have a lot of interaction with the CEO and the CFO, but beyond that, not a whole lot. But several of the individuals I interviewed were asked to lead or serve on task forces. They have different terms, like ad-hoc committee task forces, but these are essentially special committees designed to help solve operational issues in the firm.

When this would happen, the marketing board member was working directly with the CMO and with some marketing function to solve specific problems. One marketer, who worked with a very large fast-food company in the U.S., was on their board and saw that marketing in the firm was not doing well. The CEO-chairman asked the marketer on the board to lead a task force to look at marketing in the firm, including key partners like advertising agencies. That’s a very engaged level of work with the management team. This individual brought in experts from New York ad agencies and other leading marketing companies and formed a group to counsel the internal marketing organization.

MN: Fast-food companies are struggling with a shrinking market right now, so it makes sense that they’d try that. But are stories like this out of the ordinary?

Whitler: Today’s contemporary, progressive board is expected to improve business outcomes, one board member told me. Think about it this way: If you’re paying board members $250,000 per year and you’re paying to wine and dine them, the board could be a multimillion dollar investment. Don’t you expect an ROI? If all they’re there to do is to make sure that the books are accurate and to monitor the functioning of the management team, you’re not activating the full potential of the board. More progressive boards expect board members to have positive impact on business results.

In management literature, researchers think of boards as playing three different types of roles: a monitoring role, a social capital role and a human capital role. The social capital role is about the value of networks, meaning if I’m a board member on American Express and a board member of Procter & Gamble, I now have relationships in two different industries and experiences that I can bring to bear on each company. My knowledge as a board member at Procter & Gamble may help me make connections and my network may be able to help the performance of Amex and vice versa. A finance person can serve on the board and in a monitoring role, but they also have expertise potentially in M&A work and that expertise can be useful in helping the management team. These people have 40 to 50 years of experience—the human capital role can be critically important.

MN: How can marketers win more board-level influence?

Whitler: The first thing is that they have to earn it. I spoke with a CMO of a large financial services firm and the CEO was clear: He wasn’t going to give her more authority, but he wanted her to have a bigger impact. The CEO invited the whole marketing function to step up. “I’m inviting you to play a more impactful role,” he told her. “I’m not giving you more territory but I’m inviting you to be more influential.” She said to her team, “Let’s engage in a different way: How do we think about the big problems of the company?” She listened differently to the CEO and the senior team. She looked at the big challenges and stepped into the gap. Rather than saying, “This isn’t my job, my job is X,” she said, “The company is having a problem in a certain area. Let me get my team to think about it and I’m going to come back to the table with some thoughts.” Her team wasn’t asked to think, but they started stepping up. I call this stepping into the gap. She told the CEO, “I know that this is not technically in my area, but marketing can lend a voice on this. I’m pretty sure what started happening is…” And the CEO said that he knew she was going to have a bigger impact.

How do you get more influence? The short answer is that you have to earn it. At one level, you can be invited to the table, but when you’re at the table, you actually have to have influence. How do you know if you’re in a position to grow your influence? How do you earn that right? Demonstrating the type of impact you can have, the way you work with your internal peers and help them achieve their goals are likely effective ways. There’s an opportunity to step into that gap. Over time, if we do a good job of that, we earn the right to be invited to more of those important conversations.

MN: And in most cases, I’m guessing that there will be no invitation. The CMO or marketing manager must take the initiative.

Whitler: Yeah. As a former manager, a former CMO and a former GM, who did I always love to promote? The people who stepped into the gaps. There are a lot of people who wait for the ball to be thrown to them, but the problem is that balls are being dropped all around us. I look for the people to step up and say, “Hey, that ball didn’t come to me, but the ball’s being dropped and I’m going to step up and I’m going to pick up that ball.” That’s a signal that you’re ready to be promoted. Those tend to be very high-impact people. To earn the right, you have to be competent. One of the things I often share with CMOs is that you want to constantly be developing and growing and improving your own capability. Invest in your own learning and growth. Most C-level marketers need to go back and at least take contemporary stats. When I was learning stats the first time, we had books; we didn’t have computers, we did everything manually. Today, you can quickly do conjoint or cluster or factor analysis—tasks that would have taken two hours to calculate manually. C-level marketers need to retool and to stay current with the digital transformation.

MN: What about marketers who want to get onto a board themselves?

Whitler: Part of it is awareness of marketers’ positive impact. There are a couple of executive recruiters who use our research to share with boards when it might make sense to add a marketer. It’s not under all conditions, but if boards or companies are struggling with certain issues, there are times when it might be valuable to add a marketer. It’s good for them to have this empirical evidence of how marketers can have a positive influence.

Another part of is it that when marketers get on board, they have to be successful and effective. If you have only one marketer on a board—like the marketer on the board with monopoly-like power—you need to speak the board’s language. If she came to the company and didn’t speak the language of the board and wasn’t perceived to have a positive effect on board processes and outcomes, that wouldn’t be helpful. We want effective, successful marketers that will help grow the companies for marketers in the future to be in the boardroom. There has to be a positive experience for the board members who sit on multiple boards. They should be saying, “I have a marketer on this other board. They’ve really been helpful in addressing certain issues at the company and I think that type of expertise might be valuable on this board.” But if they don’t have a positive experience, that will not bode well for marketers.

I don’t think that all marketers are going to necessarily be good board members—not all marketers are equally skilled or are prepared to go on boards. Future research needs to help us understand what those skills are. Under what conditions are some marketers prepared to be successful at the board level? What type of training is required? We don’t know yet.

Read the latest research from the Journal of Marketing, the Journal of Marketing Research, the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, and the Journal of International Marketing today!

High Quality Through Transformational Leadership

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Lotte Bøgh Andersen of Aarhus University, Bente Bjørnholt of VIVE–The Danish National Welfare Research and Analysis Center, Louise Ladegaard Bro of Aarhus University, and Christina Holm-Petersen of VIVE–The Danish National Welfare Research and Analysis Center. They recently published a paper in Public Personnel Management entitled, “Achieving High Quality Through Transformational Leadership: A Qualitative Multilevel Analysis of Transformational Leadership and Perceived Professional Quality,” which is free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Andersen reflects on the motivation for pursuing this research:]

PPM_C1 template_rev.indd

What motivated you to pursue this research?

The purpose of many public organizations is to deliver services to citizens and users. As suppliers of (e.g.) daycare, education and elderly care, public organizations play an important role for the welfare and development of individual users – and for the society at large. It is therefore not unreasonable to request high-quality services, or to expect that “good leadership” matters in this regard. But what is professional quality? Does all professionals in an organization have to have the same understanding of “quality” in order for the quality-level to be high? And what can leaders actually do to increase a shared understanding – and high levels – of quality? These are some of the questions that we strive to answer in our research.

Were there any specific external events—political, social, or economic—that influenced your decision to pursue this research?

While the understanding and levels of professional quality were central to our paper, we were also interested in the number of employees which a given leader oversees (also known as span of control). This is because many (Danish) leaders in later years have experienced merges, resulting in fewer leaders and broader spans of control. The article thus contributes with knowledge about whether span of control is important for the effects of leadership.

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

We wanted to understand the quality concept as seen by the leaders and employees; to explore the daily lives and interaction of leaders and employees; and to examine the potential importance of the number of employees per leader. We therefore decided to conduct interviews and observations in a number of public service institutions with varying sizes of spans of control. We find that shared understandings of quality matters for the levels of quality; but also that this understanding does not necessarily have to be in terms of specific output- or outcome measures. In most of the organizations with high levels of quality, there is a shared focus on the work-processes – such as reflected practice and professional discussions. Furthermore, we see a more shared understandings of professional quality and higher quality when leaders use transformational leadership. This type of leadership is, however, most prevalent in organizations with medium-sized spans of control.

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Pedagogical Innovation and Paradigm Shift in the Introduction to Management Curriculum

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Elizabeth Christopher of Macquarie University, Joe Roberts of Webster University, and Oliver Laasch of the University of Nottingham, China. They recently published a paper in the Journal of Management Education entitled, “Pedagogical Innovation and Paradigm Shift in the Introduction to Management Curriculum,” which is free to read for a limited time. Below, Christopher and Roberts reflect on the motivation for pursuing this research:]

JME_72ppiRGB_powerpointWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

E- Identifying a need for improved introduction to management education, emerging from a complex global business environment of socio- economic challenges for managers.

J- Identifying innovative pedagogical approaches to teaching Intro to Management concepts across campus as interdisciplinary courses.

Were there any specific external events—political, social, or economic—that influenced your decision to pursue this research?

E- The 20th century was characterized by a resurgence of 19th-century concepts of management associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism that persists to this day. Managerialism is the organizational form of neo-liberalism that implicitly endorses the concept of educating managers to be market-led. Education along these lines is defined in terms of human capital acquisition, skilled for the economy.

If the principles of neoliberal, market led, introduction to management education are not examined, educators run the risk of overlooking contemporary demands for managerial social ethics and responsibility for the environment. This Special Issue is an attempt to respond to this challenge on behalf of university faculties and students and on behalf of curriculum designs.

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

E- It is innovative in its recognition that contemporary western management thought, all too often, is based on outdated assumptions of what ‘good’ management should be, but that have become profoundly inadequate to address pressing challenges of managerial sustainability, responsibility and ethics.  The research reveals the extent of the need for new approaches to introduction to management courses. The JME is a widely read and highly regarded journal, therefore the research findings should have an impact on the field.

J- As the managerial function has become more entrepreneurial in nature the question of ethics has become extremely important and should be integrated with pedagogical approaches to teaching Intro to Management concepts.


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Does Public Service Motivation Always Lead to Organizational?Commitment?

[We’re pleased to welcome author Wisanupong Potipiroon of Prince of Songkla University. Potipiroon recently published a paper in Public Personnel Management entitled, “Does Public Service Motivation Always Lead to Organizational Commitment? Examining the Moderating Roles of Intrinsic Motivation and Ethical Leadership,” which is free to read for a limited time. Below, Potipiroon reflects on the motivation for pursuing this research:]

PPM_C1 template_rev.inddIt is widely accepted that individuals with high public service motivation (PSM) are more likely to join, feel emotionally attached to and remain in public service organizations. Although we concur with this prevailing notion, our observations and anecdotes from street-level bureaucrats indicate that this is not always the case. Although it is true that public organizations can provide considerable opportunities to employees to do good for others and to be useful to society, we know from experience that service-minded employees often end up working in jobs that do not allow them to put their motivation to use effectively. Indeed, not all jobs are created equal: Some can be less interesting or challenging than others. This may form part of the reasons why many talented workers may decide to leave public service in the first place.

Well, this is precisely what we found in our data which were drawn from a large public organization in Thailand. We found that the relationship between PSM and organizational commitment was dependent upon intrinsic motivation—the extent to which one finds enjoyment in the work even without rewards. When task enjoyment was high, we found that the effect of PSM on organizational commitment was positive. When task enjoyment was lacking, however, the effect of PSM became significantly negative. This indicates that low levels of intrinsic motivation could undermine the achievement of the opportunities inherent in meaningful public services.

Interestingly, we also learned that highly motivated individuals put a great deal of importance on the extent to which their leaders are ethical. In particular, the highest level of organizational commitment was observed when there were high levels of motivation and ethical leadership simultaneously. This suggests that ethical leaders play an instrumental role in fulfilling employees’ needs to act on their motivation. In the public sector, ethical leaders are those who place great emphasis on making an outward, societal impact and showing concern for the common good while also providing a supportive work context that allow employees’ motivation to flourish.

Our study findings underscore the fact that PSM may not offer infinite benefits in every type of settings because PSM effects will likely depend on the whole range of contextual factors including job characteristics and leadership styles. Indeed, public managers should be aware that highly motivated workers could develop a particularly unfavorable view of their organizations if their prosocial needs go unmet.

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How Do Individuals Judge Organizational Legitimacy?

[We’re pleased to welcome author Melanie Eichhorn of the ESCP Europe Business School. Eichhorn recently published an article in Business and Society entitled “How Do Individuals Judge Organizational Legitimacy? Effects of Attributed Motives and Credibility on Organizational Legitimacy,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Eichhorn reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:


BAS_v50_72ppiRGB_powerpointWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

Almost all of the leading scholars in the field of organizational legitimacy perpetually emphasize the need for empirical studies that investigate how individuals judge whether or not organizations are legitimate, i.e. whether they are perceived to comply with social norms and values. The current lack of such studies creates an unpleasant situation. Our knowledge about what goes on in our minds when judging the legitimacy of corporate behavior basically rests on theoretical models. To close this gap there is hardly a way around insights from social psychology research. Social psychological reasoning does not only allow comprehending cognitive processes of individuals but also demonstrates how individuals influence institutions.

At the end of the day it was the match between the given research gap and our interest in psychological research that motivated us to work on this project.

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

The belief-attitude approach applied in our study explains that collective and individual judgments are not necessarily congruent and that two individual beliefs—attributed motives and the perceived credibility of the organization—lead to a change in individuals’ legitimacy judgment.

Being cautiously optimistic we hope that our study will be only one out of many future studies that experimentally investigate individual legitimacy judgements in organizational research. Experimental vignette studies are a promising data collection technique because they combine the advantages of a laboratory experiment—high internal validity—with those of a field experiment—high external validity. Currently such studies are quite rare in business and society research. Hence, our study hopefully promotes the use of experiments in studies dealing with such issues. Thereby, legitimacy is only one out of many fascinating objects of research.

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

We would like to seize this opportunity and highlight a recently published article by Finch et al. (2015). For our research area we regard this study as important. It deals with individual legitimacy judgements in regard to the oil sands industry in Canada. Even so the study was overlooked by recent reviews—we deem it the most promising approach to further explore how people judge organizational legitimacy.

The key element of their study is the definition of legitimacy as an attitude. This allows for applying an abundance of scholarly work from decades of social psychology research to the investigation of individual legitimacy judgments. These various existing insights on attitude formation and attitude change as well as those on belief building and belief adjustment provide several fruitful avenues for future research.

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Journal of Management Inquiry: Corruption Special Issue

JMI_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpgThe July 2017 Special Issue of the Journal of Management Inquiry is now online to view! This issue focuses on the phenomenon of corporate corruption, with specific topics such as counterproductive behavior, corporate culture and ethics, and media framing. Below is an excerpt from the special issue introduction entitled “Expanding Research on Corporate Corruption, Management, and Organizations,” from authors Stelios Zyglidopoulos, Paul Hirsch, Pablo Martin de Holan, and Nelson Phillips:

Corruption is a major problem in much of the world. It often prevents economic development, causes inefficiency and unfairness in the distribution of resources, can be the underlying factor behind corporate failures and industry crises, can erode the social fabric of societies, and can have other major negative impacts in the well-being of individuals and societies….But, before we proceed to discuss the topic of corruption research, we should address the issue of what corruption is and note its complexity. Transparency International (2017) defines corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.” Similarly, Ashforth, Gioia, Robinson, and Treviño (2008) define corruption as “the illicit use of one’s position of power for perceived personal or collective gain” (p. 671). We believe we should enrich and expand this definition by differentiating between first- and second-order corruption….In this special issue, our purpose is not only to renew and extend the research agenda around corporate corruption, so that we can contribute toward a more sophisticated and complex understanding, but also to facilitate communication between different researchers.

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Are Public Sector Employees Less Likely to Change Sectors?

[We’re pleased to welcome author Jaclyn Piatak of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Piatak recently published a paper in Public Personnel Management entitled, “Sector Switching in Good Times and in Bad: Are Public Sector Employees Less Likely to Change Sectors?,” which is free to read for a limited time. Below, Piatak reflects on the motivation for pursuing this research:]

PPM_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpgWhen working in the federal government (my first real job), I noticed the cubicle next to me was a revolving door of young people like me. I wondered what made people leave one federal agency for another, leave the federal government for a state or local government position, leave government work to work for a nonprofit organization (DC has many national headquarters), and above all leave public service to work in the for-profit sector.

As cliché as it may be, I entered public service to make a difference. This was my goal since being a political science undergrad through earning my graduate degrees to today, where I feel privileged as a professor to not only share my research and to serve the university and profession but also to train future government and nonprofit leaders.

I couldn’t help but wonder about people’s motivation for joining public service and how working in the government and nonprofit sectors affects them. This piece tackles one aspect, my original curiosity of the revolving cubicle: sector switching.

Were there any specific external events—political, social, or economic—that influenced your decision to pursue this research? After earning my MPP, I entered the workforce in 2007 so I saw the influence of the Great Recession not only at the federal government level, but also across the state agencies we were responsible for overseeing. Building upon my motivation for this research, I wondered how the recession impacted people’s employment decisions and outcomes across job sectors.

Were there any surprising findings? Research often examines government employment as a whole with little attention paid to how employment and employee behavior may vary across levels of government—federal, state, and local. I found only federal government and nonprofit sector employees are more likely to move into the for-profit sector during times of economic instability. Considering the federal government finding, we should take a closer look at the government sector as there may be important differences across levels of government.

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