Text Mining in Organizational Research

text-mining-1476780_1920[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Stefan Mol, Vladimer B. Kobayashi, Hannah A. Berkers, Gabor Kismihok, and Deanne N. Den Hartog of the University of Amsterdam. They recently published an article in Organizational Research Methods entitled “Text Mining in Organizational Research,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Mol recounts the events that led to the research and the significance it has to the field:]

07ORM13_Covers.inddWere there any specific external events that influence your decision to pursue this research?
One critical on-going event that lead us to pursue this research is the revolution and promise brought by the rise of big data to understand and enhance organizational processes. A large proportion of these data are comprised of texts that are generated every day at rates that imply that manual analysis of all of this data is no longer possible. The abundance of untapped text data suggest the existence of information with the promise of generating new knowledge that may be used to enhance both individual and organizational level outcomes.
Although, organizations already collect and store text data, many do not fully take advantage of the knowledge that can be gleaned from analyzing text. This may be due to a lack of expertise in conducting automatic text analysis or text mining. The mission of our work here is to empower organizational researchers by raising awareness of the possibilities afforded by text mining, helping them see how text mining might help them answer their research questions, and helping them to understand and use the text mining process and tools.
In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?
With this article we hope to contribute by facilitating dialogue between data scientists and organizational researchers about the opportunities afforded by text mining. As an example, we illustrate the role that text mining of vacancies might play in job analysis. Previous approaches to job analysis rely on time consuming collection and analysis of survey and observation based data the results of which soon become outdated due to the fast changing nature of jobs. Using text mining we demonstrate how one can take advantage of other data sources such as online job vacancies to understand the requirements and skill demands of different types of jobs. Our goal is to not only apply text mining to the field of job analysis but more importantly to inform organizational researchers about the wide-ranging uses text mining could have in organizational research. We hope that this will spark an increase in the use of text data and machine learning in organizational research.
What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?
Existing text mining solutions are technique and tool-oriented because most techniques and Big Data tools are currently primarily shaped by technical fields, such as statistics and computer science, that put greater emphasis on the computational and technological aspects. However, applying these in the field of organizational research holds great promise. Organizational researchers bring with them a repertoire of organizational theories. These theories provide domain specific information and requirements that can influence the selection of techniques and analytical strategy, and the way to evaluate the success of the particular application. Our advice for incoming organizational researchers wanting to explore text mining is to draw on their own theoretical expertise and from there start selecting the appropriate techniques and approaches to text mining. Also, as with using other analytical tools, we do need to pay careful attention to rigor in evaluation and validation of text mining based results.

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The Influence of Textual Cues on First Impressions of an Email Sender

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Shannon L. Marlow of Rice University, Christina N. Lacernza of University of Colorado Boulder, and Chelsea Iwig of the NASA Johnston Space Center. They recently published an article in the Business and Professional Communication Quarterly entitled “The Influence of Textual Cues on First Impressions of an Email Sender,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Marlow reveals the motivation for conducting this research:]

BPCQ.indd“Our motivation in pursuing the present research was to uncover practical implications regarding how to compose an email and explore facets of virtual communication. Specifically, we were interested in emails within a business context and how subtle cues within the email would influence perceptions of the email sender. We assessed whether closing salutations would impact the email receiver’s perception of the sender. As the cues within an email are limited, we believed that such cues would have an impact. We manipulated closing salutations (i.e., no salutation, “Thanks!,” “Best,” or “Thank you”), gender of the email sender, and sending method (i.e., email sent via desktop computer/laptop as compared to email sent via a mobile device). We assessed how these manipulations influenced perceptions of positive affect, negative affect, professionalism, and competence.

We were surprised to find that, on the whole, study participants rated women senders as more professional across the majority of conditions; however, women were rated as less competent when they used the “Thanks!”salutation. It appears that women are penalized for using this particular salutation whereas men are perceived similarly, in regards to competence, across all closing salutations examined in this study. We were further surprised to find that there were no differences in regards to perceptions of senders using different sending methods. It appears individuals perceive mobile devices as a professional method of communication for business exchanges. Finally, and in line with similar findings from the literature, we found that positive affect can be conveyed through using an exclamation point (i.e., using “Thanks!” as a closing salutation) and thus punctuation may be used to convey excitement and enthusiasm about work-related matters. On the whole, our findings indicate that subtle cues within emails are capable of influencing perceptions and individuals should reflect carefully when composing an email to ensure they are doing so in a way that promotes desired perceptions.”


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Text Classification for Organizational Researchers: A Tutorial

baby-84626_1920[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Stefan Mol of the University of Amsterdam. Dr. Mol recently published an article in Organizational Research Methods entitled “Text Classification for Organizational Researchers: A Tutorial,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Mol reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

07ORM13_Covers.inddWhat motivated you to pursue this research?
Machine Learning assisted text analysis is still uncommon in organizational research, although its use holds promise. Most manual text analysis procedures conducted by researchers in this field are about the assignment of text to categories such as in thematic and template analyses. However, manual classification of text becomes laborious and time consuming (and sometimes subject to reliability issues) when one needs to do this for a sizeable amount (hundreds of thousands or millions) of pieces of text. An alternative is to use automatic text classification systems that can be constructed by researchers, which allow them to speed up the process of labeling or coding large sets of textual data. The design and building of text classifiers could be of use for various areas of organizational research. Our aim was to illustrate how this could be done and provide a tutorial. We used the example of building a text classifier to automatically sort job type information contained in job vacancies. The importance of validating the results of text classification was demonstrated through data triangulation, using expert input. We believe that the use of this procedure among organizational researchers can improve reliability and efficiency in analysis that involves classification.
What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?
Building classifiers involves several rounds of training, testing, and validation before they can be deployed in practice and the most challenging aspect is training the classifier and choosing the parameters in such a way that the results are valid from the standpoint of application. The classifier we built for the job analysis task was able to recover job task sentences with high precision as assessed by an expert in the field, although the classifier was initially trained with minimum expert input. Our results thus suggest that job vacancies are a reliable alternative source of job information that can augment existing approaches to job analysis. More generally, we believe this also suggests that wider use of text classification holds promise for organizational research in a broader sense.
What did not make it into your published manuscript that you would like to share with us?
One class of techniques that are now increasingly applied in the area of text classification are word embeddings. Word embeddings map each word to vectors of real numbers. The similarities among word vectors can be used to quantify and categorize the meaning of words in specific contexts. We initially planned to include a short discussion about this but we decided not to because these techniques warrant more in depth discussion which go beyond the scope of our current article. However, organizational researchers interested in recovering context specific meaning of words may benefit from the specific approach taken with word embeddings and we recommend them to get to know these techniques as well.

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Highlights from California Management Review’s Latest Issue

Calicmra_59_2.cover.pngfornia Management Review has served as a bridge of communication between academia and management practice for sixty years. The newest issue of CMR is now online to view, and features articles covering various topics such as managing technology through outsourcing, managing customer relations, and analyzing sustainability in big corporations.

One article in particular, “Decentralization and Localization of Production: The Organizational and Economic Consequences of Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing),” co-authored by Avner Ben-Ner and Enno Siemsen, provides a glimpse into the research behind 3D printing, and how the phenomenon will likely become a local practice faster than you think.  The article is currently free to read for a limited time. Please find the abstract for the article below:

The future organizational landscape may change drastically by mid-century as a result of widespread implementation of 3D printing. This article argues that global will turn local; mega (factories, ships, malls) will become mini; long supply chains will shrink; many jobs will be broadened to combine design, consulting, sales, and production roles; and large organizations will make room for smaller ones. “A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.” [President Obama, State of the Union Address, 2013].

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Want to submit to CMR? Visit https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/uc-cmr to begin your submission!

Does using clickers in class help students engage and succeed?

With the growing technology advances and integration of new technology into classrooms, professors across the nation have adopted clickers as a means of participation in lectures. Of course, with new engagement strategies comes pros and cons, including how students must remember to bring the clickers, and if lost, will have to pay to replace the unit. The clickers can also prompt students to pay more attention in class, sinJME(D)_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpgce clickers can be used to take quizzes, and in turn, keep an online record of attendance.

A recent article in the Journal of Marketing Education entitled “Using Clickers in a Large Business Class: Examining Use Behavior and Satisfaction,” analyzes the use of clickers in the classroom which yields overall positive responses in content engagement. Authors Nripendra P. Rana and Yogesh K. Dwivedi also provide data on the behavioral intentions of the students in their study. The abstract for their article is below:

As more and more institutions are integrating new technologies (e.g., audience response systems such as clickers) into their teaching and learning systems, it is becoming increasingly necessary to have a detailed understanding of the underlying mechanisms of these advanced technologies and their outcomes on student learning perceptions. We proposed a conceptual model based on the technology acceptance model to understand students’ use behavior and satisfaction with clickers. The valid response from 138 second-year business students of Digital Marketing module taught in a British university, where clickers are extensively used in the teaching and learning process, made the basis for data analysis. The results provided a strong support for the proposed model with a reasonably adequate variance (i.e., adjusted R2) of 67% on behavioral intentions and sufficiently high variance on use behavior (i.e., 86%) and user satisfaction (i.e., 89%).

The article is free to read for a limited time, and don’t forget to sign up for email alerts through the homepage so you never miss a new issue.

Website Stories in Times of Distress

[We’re pleased to welcome author Alexia Panayiotou  of the University of  Cyprus. Panayiotou recently published an article in Management Learning entitled “Website Stories in Times of Distress,” co-authored by George Kassinis. From Panayiotou:]

What inspired you to be interested in this topic? My co-author and I have been interested in tmlq.jpghe use of corporate websites as a powerful communication strategy for several years. I was mostly interested in the power of visuality and George interested in questions of greenwashing. We had been following the BP website since 2005, as part of a larger project on the use of green imagery by oil companies. A few weeks before the Deepwater Horizon disaster, we were ready to submit a paper about BP’s website arguing, in fact, that BP’s commitments offered a novel way through which oil exploration and environmental responsibility could co-exist. We even classified various problems that could have “warned” us about BP’s practices as “accidents.” When Deepwater Horizon happened, our ready-to-be-submitted draft became irrelevant. After the shock we underwent both as researchers and as dedicated environmentalists who had clearly misread the greenwashing signs, we decided to reframe our research question vis-à-vis the disaster to study how a company changes its visual story in times of distress. Our realization that even we could be “hijacked” by the corporate story—the corporate agenda had clearly overflown into our own act of research—forced us to refocus our assumptions and questions. It is in this context that corporate power, enabled through website use, became critical to our investigation as our experience highlighted the dangerous potential of becoming “accomplices” to this power.

Were there findings that were surprising to you? The most “surprising” finding was not only the change in the visual story told but the way in which this new story was constructed on the website. In addition, as noted above, we were shocked by how the “liquid organization” had co-opted us in the telling of its story through our own act of navigating the website, making us potential “accomplices” in the telling of its corporate story. We saw this as problematic for many reasons, but mainly because the co-telling of a story through website navigation could result in (paradoxically) solidifying what Zygmunt Bauman calls “liquid power” or “the art of escape from all forms of social responsibility,” especially in cases of corporate hypocrisy.

How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice? Corporate websites are surprisingly under-explored in organization studies, despite the so-called “visual turn.”  There are several reasons why website study should feature in our research agenda on management learning: First, websites serve as corporate “storytellers” as they transmit both high-level management messages and the corporate identity to outsiders. Second, , websites differ from other forms of corporate communication since the website user is dynamically involved in the “telling” of the corporate story through his or her navigation act; as such, the user is less a recipient and more a co-constructor of this story. Third, websites, as the most ‘fluid’ of all organizational constructs, may be the most appropriate means through which to study the non-committal, shifting organization of “liquid modernity.” Mobilizing website study in management practice and education can provide a better understanding of “corporate hypocrisy” in a liquid, modern world, especially in times of distress!

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Mobile or Not? Assessing the Instructional Value of Mobile Learning

[We’re pleased to welcome author Catherine Nickerson of Zayed University, UAE.  Nickerson recently published an article in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly entitled “Mobile or Not? Assessing the Instructional Value of Mobile Learning,” co-authored by Chrysi Rapanta and Valerie Priscilla Goby. From Nickerson:]

We became interested in this topic, partly because our university is keen to increase the use of mobile learning across the curriculum, but also because we know that our students – all young Emirati nationals – are very familiar with all forms of new media. We know that in adopting mobile learning 23887038194_2071dd9149_z.jpgin our business communication classes, we are tapping into their already existing skills, and at the same time, we are providing them with additional practice in multi-tasking, and the multi-media, communication skills that they are likely to need once they enter the workforce. However, in addition to the obvious advantages that are associated with student motivation and mobile learning that we established in our previous research, we also wanted to find out if mobile learning would actually help our students to improve their performance.

Our students’ performance on a particular topic improved, when their time in the classroom included mobile learning and also when it didn’t, as long as the teaching that they received was specifically focused. At the same time, the students that received a mobile learning intervention were more likely to perform better than the students in a control group who were not given any specific teaching, than those students who were taught in a traditional way. This meant that in introducing mobile learning, we could expect our students to be more motivated, we could expect them to further develop a set of useful skills, and we could expect them to potentially improve their performance. In the future we aim to incorporate more mobile learning into our business communication classes, while at the same time, continuing to investigate the effect that mobile learning has.

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Classroom photo attributed to Catalyst Open Source (CC).