Aesthetic Rationality in Organizations

[We’re pleased to welcome author David Wasieleski of Duquesne University, USA. Wasieleski recently published an article in The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science entitled, “Aesthetic Rationality in Organizations: Toward Developing a Sensitivity for Sustainability,” co-authored by Paul Shrivastava, Gunter Schumacher, and Marco Tasic. From Wasieleski:]

As a rationale for what inspired us to get interested in this topic was the realization that the environmental crisis is in part caused by the emotional disconnection between humanJABS_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpgs and nature. Art is a vehicle for emotional connection.  And, using art based values and methods we can emotionally reconnect people and organizations with nature.

Art influences the sustainability of companies through architecture, aesthetics of work-spaces, design of products and services, design of work and organizational systems, graphic art in advertising, and arts-based training methods. Self-expressiveness and authenticity that are hallmarks of art can also enhance organizational productivity and employee motivation. Sustainable organizations need arts to enhance employee creativity, innovation, attract creative workers, improve worker satisfaction, design eco-friendly and innovative products and services.   Arts also allows us to study those aspects of organizational sustainability which are a strength of aesthetics inquiry, such as sensory and emotional experiences often ignored in traditional management studies.
For more information, please see: ircase.org

The abstract for their article is below:

This article explains the coexistence and interaction of aesthetic experience and moral value systems of decision makers in organizations. For this purpose, we develop the concept of “aesthetic rationality,” which is described as a type of value-oriented rationality that serves to encourage sustainable behavior in organizations, and to complete the commonly held, “instrumentally rational” view of organizations. We show that organizations regularly exhibit not only an instrumental rationality but also an “aesthetic rationality,” which is manifested in their products and processes. We describe aesthetics, its underlying moral values, its evolutionary roots, and its links to virtue ethics as a basis for defining the concept of aesthetic rationality. We examine its links with human resources, organizational design, and other organizational elements. We examine these implications, identify how an aesthetic-driven ethic provides a potential for sustainable behavior in organizations, and suggest new directions for organizational research.

 

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Benefits and Costs of Covert Research: An Analysis

[We’re pleased to welcome author Thomas Roulet of King’s College, UK.  Roulet recently published an article in Organizational Research Methods entitled Reconsidering the Value of Covert Research: The Role of Ambiguous Consent in Participant Observation, co-authored by Michael J. Gill, Sebastien Stenger, and David James Gill. From Roulet:]

What inspired you to be interested in this topic? We were inspired by recent ethnographic work relying heavily on covert observation – for example the recent work by Alice Goffman on low income urban areas, or the paper byORM_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpg Ethan Bernstein on the pitfalls of transparency in a Chinese factory.Alice Goffman’s work was attacked for the ethical challenges associated with the work of ethnographer.

So we went back to the literature and looked at research in various fields that relied on covert observation – the observation of a field of enquiry by a researcher that does not reveal his or her true identity and motives. This methodological approach has progressively fallen into abeyance because of the ethical issues associated with it- in particular the fact that covert observation implies not getting consent from the people observed by the researcher.

Were there findings that were surprising to you? Our review of covert research reveals that:
– all observations have issues with consent to different extent. It is obtain the full consent of all subjects. We put forward a two dimensions
– covert research can be ethically justified when tackling taboo topics, or trying to uncover misbehaviors.
– there is a wide range of ways and practices that can be used to minimize ethical concerns and limit the harm to subjects.

How do you see this study influencing future research? We hope that the ethical guidelines of some associations can evolve to offer more room for covert or semi covert research, and acknowledge the difficulties of obtaining full consent. We also think that ethical boards in universities may be willing to offer a more flexible perspective on covert research.

Finally our work is a call to researchers to consider covert observational approaches… with care!

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Call for Papers: Organization & Environment

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Organization & Environment is currently accepting manuscripts for an upcoming special issue on the topic: Financial Markets and the Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy.

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Students as Protégés: Factors That Lead to Success

[We’re pleased to welcome author Stephen Bear of  Fairleigh Dickenson University. Bear recently published an article in the Journal of Management Education entitled “Students as Protégés: Factors That Lead to Success,” co-authored by Gwen Jones. Below, Bear outlines the importance of this study:]

26111521686_8aeaf7a60a_z.jpgWe have established, in our undergraduate curriculum, a practitioner-mentoring program for all business students in our sophomore-level organizational behavior course. The intent of the program is that, early in the students’ business education, they will begin to link and apply the theories of organizational behavior to actual workplace situations through regular interactions with their mentor throughout the semester.  For many students the mentoring program is the highlight of the course, while for others the mentoring program is just another required course assignment.  This range of reactions led us to wonder what factors encourage satisfaction with practitioner-student mentoring relationships?  The level of satisfaction with a mentor is important because dissatisfaction can prompt a protégé to spend less time with a mentor and can reduce the quality of mentoring exchanges and the overall effectiveness of the mentoring relationship (Ortiz-Walters, Eddleston & Simone, 2010).

In our study we examined five independent variables that we believed could affect satisfaction:  networking to find a mentor, trust in the mentor, self-disclosure to the mentor, role modelling by the mentor and mentoring program understanding.  While each variable was positively related to mentoring relationship satisfaction, the most surprising finding of the study was the importance of student networking to find a mentor.  Many students initially have difficulty finding a mentor, and we have debated whether faculty should step in to ensure that each student has a high quality mentor.  Our study showed that when student’s network to find their own mentors this is positively associated with mentoring relationship satisfaction.  Students who found their own mentors were more satisfied with their mentoring relationships than students who relied on the professor to match them with a mentor.  We believe this finding is very relevant to faculty and to staff that establish mentoring programs as it suggests that whenever possible, student protégés not faculty should play the key role in the selection of their mentor.  Finally the relationship between networking and mentoring relationship satisfaction is likely complex and should be explored further in future research. In our study, 77% of students were successful in finding their mentors through networking, and analysis indicated that there were no significant differences in finding a mentor, as based on age, gender, or race/ethnicity. An opportunity for future research is to determine whether socioeconomic class or a student’s first-generation college status would influence the ability to network to find a mentor, as these students might have fewer networking contacts.

Reference
Ortiz-Walters, R., Eddleston, K. A., & Simione, K. (2010). Satisfaction with mentoring

Student photo attributed to the University of the Fraser Valley (CC).

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Measuring Organizational Legitimacy in Social Media

[We’re pleased to welcome author Michael Etter of the City University of London, UK. Etter recently published an article in Business & Society entitled “Measuring Organizational Legitimacy in Social Media: Assessing Citizens’ Judgments With Sentiment Analysis,” co-authored by Elanor Colleoni, Laura Illia, Katia Meggiorin, and Antonino D’Eugenio. From Etter:]

8583949219_f55657573e_z.jpgSocial media have given ordinary citizens the opportunity to freely express their opinions and feelings in any tone or style. The heated discussions around various topics from politics, sports, and corporations often evolve in parallel to news media coverage. Accordingly, we have developed the idea that a measurement of citizens’ judgment in social media can give researchers a new way to assess the legitimacy of organizations. Compared to existing measurements that, for example, assess judgments in news media coverage, a measurement based on social media would directly access the voices of ordinary citizens and therefore account for their heterogeneous norms and expectations.

In this article we describe and test how a measurement based on social media data can give indication for organizational legitimacy. We use the method of sentiment analysis that is based on computational linguistics and apply it to a case from the banking industry over a one year period.

Our findings show that, indeed, an analysis of 14’000 tweets reveals a different judgment than the analysis of 730 news articles. Compared to the news media, citizens judge the bank in a much more negative way. Also we find that the bank is discussed by 6000 citizens and for a broad variety of topics (around 400 hashtags). Clearly, social media data gives researchers access to different judgments than found in news media, which are written by a few journalists that adhere to professional norms and standards and are subject to various selection processes. We therefore encourage researchers to take into account social media, such as Twitter, in order to achieve a richer understanding of legitimation processes in a digital world. For practitioners, sentiment analysis of twitter data is a tool to monitor and identify issues and sentiment in a timely manner.

Cell phone photo attributed to Jason Howie (CC).

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Using Theory Elaboration to Make Theoretical Advancements

[We’re pleased to welcome author Herman Aguinis of George Washington University. He recently published an article in Organizational Research Methods entitled, “Using Theory Elaboration to Make Theoretical Advancements,”co-authored by Greg Fisher of Indiana University. From Aguinis:]

“Our field is rapidly being pulled apart by centrifugal forces. Like a supernova that once packed a wallop, our energy is now dissipating and we are quickly growing cold”
Donald Hambrick (2004, p. 91)

“Like symphony orchestras that play a repertoire of a dozen baroque and classical composers year in and year out, management research can sometimes appear like a living museum of the 1970s.”
Jerry Davis (2010, p. 691)

As highlighted by the above two quotes, theory development in the management field is fragmented and lacks novelty. What then can we do about this?

We propose that one way to address the opposing forces of fragmentation and lack of novelty is to adopt an approach to theory development that has loosely been referred to as theory ORM_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpgelaboration. Lee, Mitchell and Sablynski (1999) suggested that “Theory elaboration occurs when preexisting conceptual ideas or a preliminary model drives [a] study’s design” (p. 164) and they contrasted it with theory generation that “occurs when the inquiry’s design produces formal and testable research propositions” and theory testing that “occurs when formal hypotheses or a formal theory determines the study’s design” (Lee et al., 1999, p. 164). We provide a more comprehensive definition of theory elaboration as the process of conceptualizing and executing empirical research using pre-existing conceptual ideas or a preliminary model as a basis for developing new theoretical insights by contrasting, specifying, or structuring theoretical constructs and relations to account for and explain empirical observations.

To better understand theory elaboration we identified published articles that have implicitly or explicitly adopted such an approach, and although the overall number of articles is small we recognized that many such articles are among the most highly cited and impactful in the management field. We therefore set about to codify such an approach. To do so we used a reverse-engineering process to extract fundamental features of impactful theory elaboration studies.

Our goal is adopting such a reverse engineering process was to explain how to conduct a theory elaboration study, to offer illustrations of how to use particular tactics to achieve specific theory advancement goals, and to point out particular contexts and circumstances where theory elaboration is most fruitful. As such our paper serves as a catalyst for “cloning” the important theoretical advancements that have been achieved by the handful of studies that have adopted a theory elaboration perspective.

From this reverse engineering process we describe seven specific tactics for conducting a theory elaboration study:

  • Horizontal contrasting – contrasting observations across different contexts
  • Vertical contrasting – contrasting observations across different levels of analysis
  • New construct specification – identifying and defining new constructs
  • Construct splitting – identifying a need or oppo
    rtunity to break a broad construct into specific constructs
  • Structuring specific relations – defining/redefining a specific relation between two constructs
  • Structuring sequence relations – providing an explanation of a sequence of events or relations
  • Structuring recursive relations – Accounting for a recursive relation between two or more entities over repeated interactions

We link each of these tactics with different types of theory advancements and we provide a sequential decision-making process for deciding whether to adopt a theory elaboration approach. Finally, we identify research domains and specific topics in OBHR, strategic management, and entrepreneurship for which theory elaboration is likely to be highly effective as a means to make theoretical advancements. We believe that theory elaboration holds a great promise as a perspective to empower scholars to overcome some of the current challenges associated with theory advancement in the management field.

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Experimental Research Designs For Entrepreneurship: Pros and Cons

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Sharon Simmons of the University of Missouri Kansas City, Alice Wieland of  the University of Nevada, and Dan Hsu of Appalachian State University, who recently published an article in Organizational Research Methods entitled “Designing Entrepreneurship Experiments: A Review, Typology, and Research Agenda.” From Simmons, Wieland, and Hsu:]

  • ORM_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpgWhat inspired you to be interested in this topic?

Dr. Simmons: Our inspiration for the project came from our individual interests in the experimental research methodology and our growing awareness of the difficulties that emerging entrepreneurship scholars in the field were having getting their experiment papers accepted at elite entrepreneurship journals. Each of the coauthors have different backgrounds that shaped our learning journeys leading up to the conceptualization of the article.  We believe that our diverse backgrounds and different challenges of learning about the appropriate sample and research designs allowed us to write the article in a way that will be understood by a broad audience with different levels of experience and understanding of experimental methods.

Dr. Wieland: My motivation for this paper came from the frustration of sending in experimental papers on entrepreneurship and getting reviews from entrepreneurship researchers who didn’t understand the method – they couldn’t fairly evaluate the manuscripts – both from a design perspective and the related statistical analysis. Much of entrepreneurship research is related to psychological phenomena, therefore, it is essential that using the best methods in psychological research should also be applied, and understood by entrepreneurship researchers.

Dr. Hsu: I shared the similar concerns with Dr. Wieland. Many entrepreneurship scholars were not familiar with the experimental method and rejected a paper using experiments because it lacked external validity – the experimental scenarios/conditions were not real. As we advocated in the paper, the external validity is never the goal of experiments. Instead, the purpose of experiments is to test causality, a critical component of many important relationships in entrepreneurship, including mediation effects. In fact, mediation effects can not be rigorously tested without using the experimental method.

  • Were there findings that were surprising to you?

Dr. Simmons: To prepare the article we conducted a survey of current entrepreneurship experiments.  What we found surprising is that the researchers were able to tap into different stakeholders of the entrepreneurship process to participate in the experiments.  There is a general perception in the field that experienced individuals such as venture capitalists, mentors, angel investors, CEOs are difficult to pull away from their everyday functions to engage in an experiment.  We were happy to see a good representation of these stakeholders participating in entrepreneurship experiments.

Dr. Wieland: Since this is a methodological review, there were not specific “findings” related to the work. However, what was interesting to me were the different techniques used for experimental designs noted in the review of published studies which combined a field sample with random assignment to address the weaknesses of both approaches.

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

Dr. Simmons: We hope that the care that we put into providing practical examples and the typology will ease the uncertainty of scholars that are new to the experimental method.  The entrepreneurship field is at a level of maturity that calls for studies with the scientific rigor to both test and advance theories of the relationships that scholars to date have done a fine job of bringing to the forefront. While we title the article, Designing Experiments for Entrepreneurship Research, we see this study impacting the broader management literature as well.

Dr. Wieland: We hope to provide a guide that will be useful for entrepreneurship researchers who are new to using experimental methods.

 

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