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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Argument Complexity and Discussions of Political/Religious Issues

[We’re pleased to welcome authors, Dr. Lyn M. Van Swol of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Dr. Cassandra L. Carlson-Hill Carolina of Coastal Universit, and Dr. Emily Elizabeth Acosta Lewis of Sonoma State University. They recently published an article in Small Group Research entitled “Integrative Complexity, Participation, and Agreement in Group Discussions,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Van Swol discusses some of the findings of this research:]

SGR_72ppiRGB_powerpointPolitical and religious issues can be difficult to discuss in a group, and it can be especially difficult to convince others who disagree with your viewpoint. This paper examined the role of complexity of arguments in a group discussion of a political/religious issue. Groups discussed whether or not the words “under God” should be in the United States Pledge of Allegiance. We had hypothesized that group members whose opinion were more similar to their fellow group members would increase the complexity of their contributions to the group when they were exposed to group members with more fringe opinions, but this was not supported. However, members with more fringe opinions in the group were more successful in influencing the group towards their opinion when they used more complex arguments. Argument complexity did not matter for group members with more mainstream views in terms of how much they influenced the group decision. Because group members with more fringe and discrepant opinions cannot appeal to their opinion being normative and aligned with the majority in the group, it may be important for them to have complex arguments to be persuasive. Complex arguments tend to be more nuanced and less dogmatic, which may make someone with an opinion more different from others in the group seem more flexible and informed. Finally, arguments used by members in the group discussion were more complex when the group had a longer discussion. This highlights the benefits of extending group discussion to let more nuances of the topic of discussion get expressed.

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#OSEditorPicks: Constructing Women’s Leadership Representation in the UK Press During a Time of Financial Crisis

[We are pleased to welcome Trish Reay, Editor-in-Chief of Organization Studies.]

Elliott, C. & Stead, V. (2018). Constructing Women’s Leadership Representation in the UK Press During a Time of Financial Crisis: Gender Capitals and Dialectic Tensions. Organization Studies, 39(1): 19-45.

In this timely article, Carole Elliott and Valerie Stead investigate how women’s leadership was represented in the printed media during the global financial crisis of 2008 – 2012. They show how textual and visual discourses combine to promote different conceptualizations of what it is to be a leader, and can make a difference in the advancement of women into leadership roles. I encourage you to read this article to learn more about the power of everyday discourse in promoting (or not) women into positions of leadership.

-Trish Reay, Editor-in-Chief, Organization Studies

OSSA continuing challenge for organizations is the persistent underrepresentation of women in senior roles, which gained a particular prominence during the global financial crisis (GFC). The GFC has raised questions regarding the forms of leadership that allowed the crisis to happen and alternative proposals regarding how future crises might be avoided. Within this context women’s leadership has been positioned as an ethical alternative to styles of masculinist leadership that led to the crisis in the first place. Through a multimodal discursive analysis this article examines the socio-cultural assumptions sustaining the gendering of leadership in the popular press to critically analyse how women’s leadership is represented during the GFC of 2008–2012. Highlighting the media’s portrayal of women’s leadership as a gendered field of activity where different forms of gender capital come into play, we identify three sets of dialectics: women as leaders and women as feminine, women as credible leaders and women as lacking in credibility, and women as victims and women as their own worst enemies. Together, the dialectics work together to form a discursive pattern framed by a male leadership model that narrates the promise of women leaders, yet the disappointment that they are not men. Our study extends understandings regarding how female and feminine forms of gender capital operate dialectically, where the media employs feminine capital to promote women’s positioning as leaders yet also leverages female capital as a constraint. We propose that this understanding can be of value to organizations to understand the impact and influence of discourse on efforts to promote women into leadership roles.


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You can read Constructing Women’s Leadership Representation in the UK Press During a Time of Financial Crisis: Gender Capitals and Dialectic Tensions by Carole Elliott and Valerie Stead free for the next 30 days. 


Reflections on the Organization Studies’ Special Issue

[Business and Management INK would like to welcome Wendy K. Smith, Guest Editor for the Organization Studies‘ Special Issue: Paradox, Tensions and Dualities of Innovation and Change. Below, Dr. Smith reflects on the themes of the issue and her experience as a guest editor:]

OSSWhen I was a doctoral student, faculty and colleagues frequently tried to dissuade me from studying paradox. Only a small handful of scholars wrote about paradoxes, dialectics and dualities in organizations and management theory. Most academics believed these ideas belonged in philosophy classes or in yoga studios, but was too abstract and underspecified for organizational and management theory. Several senior colleagues confessed their long-standing intrigue with the idea, but noted that they abandoned efforts to publish paradox studies in their earlier years, given how hard it was to do.

Against this backdrop, I could not be more delighted when we ended up with 106 high quality submissions, the most received for a special issue to date for a special issue in Organizational Studies. Paradox, it seems, is no longer a peripheral theory or pet project reserved for the luxury of intrigued senior scholars. As an intellectual field, we have worked to increasing clarity to define and bound key constructs and propose and test critical relationships. At the same time, we have seen greater breadth applying paradox theory across levels of analysis, phenomena, and theory, ultimately acting more as a meta-theory.

The Organizational Studies Special Issue provide a great example of the convergence and divergence of the field. The nine papers in the special issue collectively describe paradox, dualities and dialectics as three constructs each depicted by both contradiction and interdependence. They also suggest divergence in the application of these concepts, drawing from an array of methodologies and explore insights across varied innovation and change phenomena, industries and geographies. Seven of the studies adopt inductive and qualitative methods, while one study applies an individual-level experimental research design, while another offers a theoretical argument. The studies also explore tensions in a wide range of phenomena, including senior leadership decision making, cross-sector collaborations, inter-professional collaborations, employee identification, and mergers and acquisitions. Moreover, they examine these issues in industries ranging from utilities, media and public services to health care and print. They further use data from China, India, Australia, the UK, and the US.

The field of paradox studies has progressed significantly over the last 20 years, becoming a more legitimacy theory with broad application. I look forward to the next chapter as the theory continues to grapple with increased complexity and opportunity.

You can read articles from the Special Issue: Paradox, Tensions and Dualities of Innovation and Change for the next 30 days free.

ILR Call for Papers, Industry and Organization Studies

The ILR Review features a special series on Industry and Organization Studies in partnership with the Industry Studies Association (ISA). Submit today!

ILR_72ppiRGB_powerpointThe ILR Review has published the top, peer-reviewed theoretical and empirical research on work and employment relations for more than 65 years. Published five times a year, ILR features international and interdisciplinary research that advances new theory, presents novel empirical work, and informs organizational and public policy. It is published by the Cornell University ILR School, and is fully indexed in RePEc.

For more details click here.

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.

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#OSEditorPicks: Moving Institutional Logics Forward: Emotion and Meaningful Material Practice. Organization Studies

[We are pleased to welcome Trish Reay, Editor-in-Chief of Organization Studies.]

3059478992_b172d2d4ee_o.jpgIn the #OSEditorPicks for November, Moving Institutional Logics Forward: Emotion and Meaningful Material Practice. Organization Studies, Roger Friedland writes about institutions and emotions.

If you are engaged with the literature on institutional logics, here is a new article that you really need to read. As part of a forthcoming Special Issue of Organization Studies, Roger Friedland has written a thought-provoking essay explaining his thoughts about how emotion can be positioned in an institutional logics approach.

I believe that this article will stimulate lots of ongoing discussion about emotion and logics. I encourage you to read it so that you can be part of the debate!

Below is the abstract for the article:

OSSInstitutional theory, and the institutional logics approach in particular, lacks the feelings that produce, sustain and disrupt institutional practice. This is due in part to rational, instrumental understandings of the individual in practice, and in part to the cognitive and linguistic understanding of that practice, sustained by classification, qualification and belief. Emotion, a joining of language and bodily affect, is ready at hand for institutional theory. There is increasing recognition that emotion is a powerful device for institutionalization and de-institutionalization. In this essay, I consider emotion’s position in institutional theory and how we might position it in an institutional logics approach. I will argue that emotion not only mediates institutions, but can itself be institutional.

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You can read Moving Institutional Logics Forward: Emotion and Meaningful Material Practice. Organization Studies by Roger Friedland free for the next 30 days. 

Heart photo attributed to camerazn. (CC)

Business Cases for Sustainability – A Stakeholder Theory Perspective

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Stefan Schaltegger and Jacob Hörisch of Leuphana University, Luneburg and Edward Freeman of Darden Business School.  Schaltegger, Hörisch and Freeman recently published an article in Organization & Environment entitled “Business Cases for Sustainability: A Stakeholder Theory Perspective,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, the three authors reflect on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

33048305825_efac4c4770_oWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

More and more private companies are voluntarily releasing statistics concerning how often they receive requests for their subscribers’ information, on what grounds the requests are made, and how many subscribers’ data has been disclosed. These statistics are bundled in transparency reports and their release has generally been seen as shedding light on otherwise secretive government activity, be it surveillance practices undertaken by intelligence agencies, by security intelligence agencies, or by law enforcement agencies. I wanted to understand a few things in my course of research: would companies that were not facing intense socio-economic pressures produce voluntary transparency reports that robustly revealed government surveillance practices? How effective are voluntarily produced transparency reports, generally, in shedding light on corporate and government activity? And what might be the impacts of standardizing these sorts of voluntary reports, and how might such standardization come about?

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

Countries around the world are grappling with the issue of government access to telecommunications data. The issue has become particularly poignant given revelations of international spying undertaken by Western countries, as well as a range of existing and proposed laws in Europe and North America that would facilitate police and security services’ access to communications information. However, governments have tended to be deeply secretive in how they use existing powers or how they would actually use proposed powers. Private companies’ voluntarily produced transparency reports, which provide statistics and narrative accounts of how often and on what grounds governments request access to companies’ data, act as a novel way of shining a light upon government practice. I was motivated to understand just how much these reports genuinely shed light on government practice and how much they cast shadows over the politics and policies of communications surveillance.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?
There is an extensive literature on corporate social responsibility documents and the extent to which those documents make private firms transparent, as well as a literature discussing the importance of rendering government surveillance transparent to the public. What is novel about my research is it explores how private firms’ reports are produced in contravention of state desires or interests and, thus, how transparency reporting can happen outside of situations where the market or government are clamoring for revelations of firm behavior. Core to my findings is that voluntarily produced reports could potentially be standardized to enhance comparability across firms and the reports’ revelatory nature, but that any such standardization may conceal as much about firm behavior as it reveals. Ultimately, this research advances the scholarly and public policy debate over how (in)effective private firms’ reports’ are in advancing the state of knowledge of government surveillance activities versus concealing some aspects of such activities.


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