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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Do we Value Disabled Lives in Academia?

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

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

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

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

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Profiling Potential Plagiarizers

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Sarah Rosol of the and Dr. Dale Cyphert of the University of Northern Iowa. They recently published an article in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly entitled “Profiling Potential Plagiarizers: A Mastery Learning Instructional Technique to Enhance Competency,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Rosol reveals the inspiration for conducting this research and additional findings not included in the paper:]

BCQ_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpgWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

We wanted to shed light on the anecdotal evidence that many students are legitimately confused about plagiarism and proper citation techniques. Often the problem is chalked up to laziness or malicious intent on the part of the student, which might be unfair. In our experience, most faculty members have not considered that current instruction methods or procedures might be encouraging the problem. The animosity and anxiety generated when faculty use the term “plagiarism” adds stress without communicating the need for some additional skill. Our instructional goal was to develop a method to ease some of that stress and create a more collaborative classroom experience. Along the way, we learned that being proactive at the beginning of the class saves both time and major headaches at the end of the course.

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

The article could not fully convey the damage to the instructor’s reputation when she announced that she had discovered plagiarism. Rumors spread throughout the college as students speculated about punishments and gossiped about the instructor’s unfairness. At one point, rumors had escalated to include claims that the instructor had actively attempted to unfairly fail over 60% of the class for plagiarism and that the Dean had to force the instructor to allow some individuals to graduate. None of that was even close to the real story, yet students were extremely upset with the instructor for confronting the plagiarism problem. The instructor was both surprised and mortified to walk into class the following semester and find anticipatory hatred on Day 1. Further, attempts to convey the real story were quickly dismissed by the students as simply her attempt to save face by lying!

As a result, the article also fails to capture the contrasting ease and confidence of students gearing up for the final papers after we had used the mastery learning approach. In previous semesters, the stress and anxiety was almost palpable as students resisted submitting the papers to the plagiarism software and asked question after question about proper citations. Prior to the mastery approach, I was seen as the authority figure just waiting to pounce on a student for any little mistake. After adopting the mastery approach, I was viewed as someone that was looking out for their best interests and actively helping the students avoid the errors without a severe penalty.

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

As we dug into the literature, it was clear that “plagiarism” is used as a broad umbrella term for several types of offenses, and authors exhibit vastly different assumptions about causes, as well as the severity of any presumed moral lapse and suitable punishments. The different definitions and measurements make comparisons across various studies difficult. Our advice would be to carefully define terms, which is good research practice in any field, but also to carefully interrogate their own moral and pedagogical presumptions, which seem to have a huge impact on how plagiarism research is framed and interpreted.

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Understanding Students’ Engagement in Higher Education

[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Alexander Kofinas of University of Bedfordshire. Dr. Kofinas recently published an article in Management Learning entitled “Managing the sublime aesthetic when communicating an assessment regime: The Burkean Pendulum,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Kofinas reveals the inspiration for conducting this research :]

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What motivated you to pursue this research?

When looking back to this piece of work I realise that the main motivation for pursuing the publication of this conceptual work is the sympathy I have for the students and their perturbations. I think sometimes the academy is relatively dismissive of the emotive aspects of learning and the sheer terror that some of my students seem to feel when facing new concepts, new ideas and new knowledge. At times, it appears like a small death; the death of the students’ previous state of knowledge and being. And yet looking back at my own learning journey it is in those small deaths and re-births, in those moments where I felt the abjection, the fear, the pressure; in those moments memories grew memories that I hold dear. And in those moments, my then classmates, housemates, friends, and teachers became an important aspect of my interpretation of my story. Thus there is something attractive in this fear and in overcoming it, and the closest word to describe this feeling of attraction has been the sublime as described by Burke.

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

It is hard to isolate a single influential piece of scholarship; it is in blending them that I get insight. So better to talk about a specific blend that helped with this published work. To make sense of the sublime and its connection to the learning journey of my students I tapped into an eclectic range of literature which rarely focussed on Higher Education. However, the breakthrough for this article was only possible when I made the connection between productive failure (which is akin to Argyris’ double-loop learning), with the way Kant was treating the feeling of the sublime; it was the realisation that Kant was treating the sublime almost as a failure of cognition to conquer the external world that provided that mechanism behind the burkean pendulum.

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

As usual, there is much that did not make it to the final manuscript. The original manuscript had 3x the concepts and ideas and was a bit of a… mess. Arguably the most important part removed was probably the section on flow and terror management theory; in the original manuscript I had suggested that flow (as in Goleman’s flow) is part of the terror management process and thus a way to overcome the sublime. There may be here scope for a future paper that seriously examines the beauty side of the aesthetic motivation and its link to flow. Terror Management theory (TMT) also would be good to explore explicitly, I was sad to remove it but in the end it was the sublime thread that was the priority. However, I still think that the TMT authors in that field have tapped something that may be uncomfortable to many but it is of primary importance to acknowledge and investigate; Death is a vital part of our life and that in learning both life and death are present…

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How Educators Should Respond to Culture, Gender, and Moral Ideology on Sales Ethics Evaluations

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Youngsu Lee of California State University, Chico, Timothy Heinze of California State University, Chico, Casey Donoho of California State University, Chico, Christophe Fournier of the University of Montpellier, Ahamed A. F. M. Jalal of Binus University International, David Cohen of Lincoln University, and Eike Hennebichler of the University of Montpellier. They recently published an article in the Journal of Marketing Education entitled “An International Study of Culture, Gender, and Moral Ideology on Sales Ethics Evaluations: How Should Educators Respond?” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Heinze reflects on the motivations for conducting this research:]

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My motivation for working on “An International Study of Culture, Gender, and Moral Ideology on Sales Ethics Evaluations: How Should Educators Respond?” fundamentally centered on the need to facilitate ethical orientations and practices in sales. Globally, sales is one of the most difficult positions for hiring managers to fill. However, though professional sales positions are readily available and offer lucrative financial and lifestyle benefits, many college students do not desire sales careers. This fact is of particular concern in marketing where the majority of students must begin their professional careers in sales. Therefore, the paper is an attempt to better understand the global nature of sales ethics. If we can understand the drivers behind ethical sensitivity and decision making in sales, we can better develop pedagogical tools to effectively teach sales ethics.

The most challenging aspect of the research involved coordinating data collection across five countries. However, the international nature of the study also provided several interesting and unexpected findings. For example, we found that cultural traditionalism doesn’t necessarily yield increased ethical sensitivity. Indonesia is technically more traditional than the U.S., but Indonesian respondents were not as ethically sensitive to sales improprieties. This finding aligned with prior research which uncovered that collectivistic societies such as Indonesia tend to have lower levels of ethical sensitivity.

Another interesting finding dealt with gender and ethical sensitivity. Females were more ethically sensitive in all countries, save Germany (where females and males shared similar sensitivity levels). Germany was the most secular country studied, and the disappearance of traditional gender roles in secular societies might influence sensitivity levels.

Finally, the research confirmed that moral ideologies impact ethical sensitivity. Individuals who subscribe to absolutist ideologies (high idealism/low relativism) are the most sensitive to ethical misconduct in sales situations.


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Mobile Business Retailing

cafe-691956_1920[We’re pleased to welcome authors Sarah Fischbach and Veronica Guerrero of California Lutheran University. They recently published an article in the Journal of Marketing Education entitled “Mobile Business Retailing: Driving Experiential Learning on Campus,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they reflect on the motivations for conducting this research:]

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Almost everyone knows what you are talking about when you say Food Truck, however, when you start talking about Game Trucks, Fashion Trucks, Mobile Pet Services Trucks, Mobile IV Trucks, you will find less true understanding and knowledge. In 2014, I attended a 7-year-old birthday party for one of my neighbors’ son. It seemed like the average birthday party with a cake, piñata and of course a food truck. After a little while a couple more trucks pulled up including a Mobile Game Truck and a Mobile Beauty Truck. Inside the climate controlled Game Truck there were six 55” LED TVs with video game consoles, tons of games and controllers for up to 24 players. I was amazed and it took me by surprise, what other types of mobile business are out there. My research lead to the American Mobile Retail Association (AMRA) http://www.americanmra.com and after a couple of conversations with the founders Stacey Jischke-Steffe and Jeanine Romo, I knew that this was something that students needed to know about. The way companies and place our products with the consumer is changing, drastically.
I began working with the AMRA to set up mobile business truck events on campus and it has been a big hit. One of the challenges that I faced was the commitment of the mobile business owner. If they didn’t want to set up their shop or drive it up to campus, they didn’t have to, they were mobile. Another challenge that I found was peoples’ perceptions with mobile businesses since their first and only experience was with food trucks.

The most innovative aspects of the research focus on experiential learning and the use of mobile business truck format. Sometimes students are less motivated in a marketing course when their major is finance, accounting or management. The novelty of the mobile business project allows the students outside the marketing field to see how this could be important at all levels. The mobile business owner is the marketer, manager and the entrepreneur. In business, we wear many hats and this is a great way for the students to see it first-hand.

I have learned that research in pedagogy can be very rewarding. As a professor and a marketing researcher, I enjoy blending research into my courses and testing out new ideas with the students. It is great when these two intersect and the research is helping to improve student learning outcomes. I encourage more professors to apply their research skills to classroom activities.


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Food Truck photo attributed to Free-Photos. (CC)

Overcoming the Problem With Solving Business Problems

[We’re pleased to welcome authors, Todd Bridgman of the Victoria University of Wellington, Colm McLaughlin of the University College Dublin, and Stephen Cummings of the Victoria University of Wellington. They recently published an article in the Journal of Management Education entitled “Overcoming the Problem With Solving Business Problems: Using Theory Differently to Rejuvenate the Case Method for Turbulent Times,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Bridgman recounts the motivations and innovations of this research:]

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What motivated you to pursue this research?

Our interest came from our experiences as case writers and teachers. Early cases we developed were well received, so we attended case writing and teaching workshops to further our skills. This led to two realizations. First, we came to see that analysis of the cases largely took place in a theoretical vacuum. This seemed limiting, because we had always found theory useful for seeing situations from multiple perspectives. Second, theory, when it was applied to cases, was only given a narrow active role. It was only seen as useful if it was a ‘tool ’applied to fix or solve real-life ‘business problems’ which were generally seen in immediate financial profit and loss terms. This struck us as too narrow. Wasn’t there more to studying management than solving business problems? And doesn’t theory have more useful purposes than being a profit-maximization tool? These experiences got us interested in delving deeper into the history of the case method and the role of theory in utilizing cases in teaching.

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

We’ve watched closely the global political-economy since the financial crisis hit a decade ago, and we see parallels with what happened in the United States following the financial crises of the 1920s and 1930s. Both periods of turbulence were followed by a deep questioning of the prevailing free-market capitalist model. We see today in Brexit, American politics, the rise of nationalism in Europe and elsewhere a fundamental challenge to a 30-year consensus around neoliberalism. This has implications for management education, because business schools that have been strongly aligned to the neoliberal worldview now risk being seen as out of step with this new political landscape. We were interested in looking back to the 1920s and 1930s to see how business schools like Harvard responded to the crisis, to give us insight on how schools might respond today. In HBS’ past we found the seeds of a critical, reflexive management education, which encourages students to question dominant assumptions and ideologies. The aim of the paper is to think about how we could adapt the case method to incorporate this kind of approach.

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

It is widely accepted that we should learn from history, but what is less understood is how we are limited by the histories that we have. Our paper is innovative by exploring the case method’s forgotten past at HBS. In response to the crises of the 1920s and 1930s HBS’ leaders understood the need for a business education that didn’t just blindly support capitalism but seriously questioned its development for the good of humanity. But these events have been largely airbrushed from the school’s history because they challenge the neoliberal worldview that the modern HBS wished to promote in the last half of the 20th century. HBS has a more diverse and interesting past that is conveniently forgotten by supporters, and therefore unseen by the critics. Our paper will have impact if it stimulates new research on the case method and if it provides greater legitimacy for case writing and teaching that does more than train students to solve immediate ‘business problems’. We want to inspire a rejuvenated role for theory and a more reflective and thought-provoking case method that is a better fit for today’s challenging, multi-faceted times.

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