Management, Social Sustainability, Reputation, and Financial Performance Relationships

[We’re pleased to welcome authors, Dr. Robert Sroufe of Duquesne University Pittsburgh and Dr. Venugopal Gopalakrishna-Remani of The University of Texas at Tyler. They recently published an article in Organization & Environment entitled “Management, Social Sustainability, Reputation, and Financial Performance Relationships: An Empirical Examination of U.S. Firms,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Sroufe discusses the motivations for this research:]

O&E_72ppiRGB_powerpointThe motivation for this study on Management, Social Sustainability and Reputation can be found in our profound interest in how innovative organizations integrate sustainability. We developed a unique sample of top ranked Fortune 500 multinational companies to better understand how sustainability practices lead to improved performance. In doing so, we propose new constructs and item development while testing relationships to tradition measures of financial performance. This study looks at exemplary MNCs as identified by Newsweek, The Corporate Knights, and Best Corporate Citizens rankings. Firm level performance is assessed during the time of country level cuts to GHG emissions set by the Kyoto Protocol, and during a period of time in which there was a difficult recession in the U.S. The uniqueness of our study and the results operationalize multiple dimensions of sustainability and ask the question has social performance lived up to the promises made on its behalf?

A challenging aspect of this study is the development of new sustainability constructs involving management, social performance and reputation. We were able to utilize multiple measures from both Newsweek and Bloomberg to develop and assess new constructs. We found there are significant benefits to sustainability management practices, yet there is more to explore and learn about the practices and relationships involving social sustainability performance. We hope this study provides a foundation for future research into social sustainability and evolving management practices.

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Professionalizing Corporate Professions

[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Cara Reed of Swansea University. Dr. Reed recently published an article in Management Learning entitled “Professionalizing corporate professions: Professionalization as identity project,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Reed reveals the inspiration for conducting this research :]

mlqb_48_3.coverIn this article, I introduce the concept of professionalization as identity project for corporate professions. Before returning to academia, I worked in public relations (PR) as a consultant representing corporate services and professions such as law, accountancy, and surveying.

My experience of working in that occupation, whilst representing other professions, motivated me to pursue my research into the professionalization of UK PR. I wanted to explore in more detail some of the tensions I had experienced between different occupations and their professional status and how an emergent occupation like PR attempts to gain a professional status in this context (I was also a member of PR’s professional body when I worked in the occupation).

My research argues that corporate professions like PR pursue professionalization as an identity project where the professional body attempts to resonate with practitioners’ professional identity construction in order to recruit a critical mass of membership and thereby assert some control over the occupation. Exploring professionalization in this context provides a more nuanced understanding of the dynamics between professional body and practitioner. It also suggests that for professionalization as identity project to succeed, an innovative reconfiguration of discourses of professionalism is required. Placing identity construction at the heart of the professionalization process therefore demonstrates the wider challenges present in all professions in terms of reconciling the differences between the lived realities of practitioners with professional ideology.

I think there is much more to be done to explore and examine professionalization processes for corporate professions. Too often they are dismissed as occupations that do not have professional status and therefore are not worthy of research attention. However, I would argue many of the occupations that fall into the corporate profession category (e.g. management consultancy, information management, and advertising) are hugely influential and with that growing influence, comes attempts to professionalize. My research suggests that for these corporate professions, practitioners’ identity construction plays a greater role in this process and I hope that new scholars to this research area will consider the role of identity in detail in this context. Whilst the corporate professionalization process may not be the same as that for more established professions this does not mean they should not be examined – particularly when the notion of what constitutes a profession is now more fluid and heterogeneous than ever before.

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Submit Your Best Research on Family Business to Family Business Review!

fbra_30_2.coverFamily Business Review (FBR) a refereed journal published quarterly since 1988, is a scholarly publication devoted exclusively to the exploration of the dynamics of family-controlled enterprise, including firms ranging in size from the very large to the relatively small.

Reasons to submit to FBR:

• Rigorous peer review of your research
• Average time from submission to first decision: 30 days
• Impact Factor: 4.229
• Ranked 15 out of 121 in Business

Manuscripts should be submitted electronically to

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

Don’t forget to sign up for email alerts through the journal homepage so you never miss the latest research.

Do You Have Research on Teaching and Learning Practice? Submit to Management Teaching Review!


Management Teaching Review has updated their submission guidelines. Make an impact on management teaching and submit today!

Management Teaching Review (MTR) is currently seeking manuscript submissions. MTR is committed to serving the management education community by publishing short, topically-targeted, and immediately useful resources for teaching and learning practice. The published articles and interactive platform provide a rich, collaborative space for active learning resources that foster deep student engagement and instructor excellence.

For more details click here.

Read the new submission guidelines here!

Manuscripts should be submitted electronically to

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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:]


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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Are Private Schools Better Managed?

This post previously appeared on the NIESR blog.

In recent years governments of all hues have urged private schools to sponsor state schools to help raise education standards in state schools. In 2012 Lord Adonis, who had earlier been Labour’s Minister for Schools, argued that successful private schools, whose “DNA” incorporated “independence, excellence, innovation, social mission”, should sponsor state academy schools. Subsequent Coalition and Conservative governments have adopted the same policy with the 2017 Conservative Party manifesto aiming for at least 100 independent schools to sponsor an academy or start a free school.

The policy is not evidence-based. Instead it has been assumed that private schools’ successes are founded on superior management. There is no doubt that, even allowing for the normally affluent social background of private school pupils, these children on average perform well in exams, compared to their state-educated peers. Private schools also deliver a broad curriculum and provide a full sporting and cultural education beyond the class room. How do they do that? Most obviously, because they deploy hugely greater resources, and because the schools are able, through their pupil selection, to concentrate on a generally aspirational peer group. But neither of these advantages are supposed to be part of the sponsorship policy.

Rather, governments have presumed that private schools might convey the desired ethos of aspiration and excellence through improvements in management practices. In our article Do private Schools Manage Better, published in the February issue of the National Institute Economic Review, we present findings from the first large-scale study to test the proposition that cutting-edge human resource management (HRM) practices are more prevalent in private sector schools compared to state sector schools.

It is often presumed that the competition organizations face in the private sector drives up the quality of management, compared to that found in the public sector. Yet whether competition for pupils is that much fiercer among private schools, as compared with the competition among state schools, is a moot point. What is known is that autonomy from government is found sometimes to be beneficial. Private schools do have more autonomy than state schools – over pupil selection and the size of their budget – but otherwise British state schools have, by international standards, plenty of freedom to manage their budgets and their staff. Like state schools, private schools vary a lot. The private schools certainly have their quota of management problems – witness the many smaller schools that have been recently found wanting by Ofsted, criticised for “fundamental weaknesses in expertise”, their heads having no educational training.

Prior to our study there was one study finding no evidence that management practices in private schools in Britain are more advanced than in state schools. Their index of management practices, which was correlated with student performance, covered operations, monitoring, target-setting and people management practices. They applied this index in several countries. In the UK, where they had a small sample of 100 schools, they found no overall difference between the index score of the private schools and the score of the state schools they looked at.

Our study looked at 406 schools, including 79 that were private. We focused on 48 human resource management practices that are known to be associated in many industries with high levels of staff commitment and performance. They covered 8 domains: incentives, record-keeping, targets, teams, training “Total Quality Management”, Participation, and Selection. Although private schools were ahead of state schools in terms of record-keeping, on the whole it is the state schools who scored more highly across most domains, as well as in terms of our summary management score.

As expected, the variation in management practice between schools is considerable, so it is quite possible to imagine that well-managed schools might have something to pass on to less-well-managed schools.  But this might just as easily be a state school helping a poorly managed private school, as the other way round. At any rate, there seems to be no evidence in support of a general policy of private schools sponsoring state schools, if that sponsorship is focused on the sharing of management expertise.

There remains much to be learned about the good management of state schools, but we are not optimistic that anything of substance on a large scale is likely to be gained by bringing in private school managers.

Acknowledgement: Alex Bryson thanks the Nuffield Foundation (grant EDU/41926) for funding. Francis Green acknowledges support from the ESRC-funded LLAKES Centre for Research on Learning and Life Chances (grant ES/J019135/1). The views expressed are those of the authors, and not necessarily those of the funders. All errors and omissions remain the sole responsibility of the authors.

Call for Papers: Entrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy

EEX_72ppiRGB_powerpointMake an impact on Entrepreneurship teaching and submit to Entrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy!

Entrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy (EEP) is USASBE’s peer-reviewed opportunity for entrepreneurship educators to both publish their scholarship and showcase their practice. EE&P aims to provide a forum for the dissemination of research, teaching cases, and learning innovations focused on educating the next generation of entrepreneurs.

For more details click here.

Manuscripts should be submitted electronically to

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