The theme of this year’s Academy of Management conference is on improving lives and how organizations can help. Ahead of the conference, Trish Reay, Editor-in-Chief of Organization Studies, has selected a few papers from the journal considering these questions.
The Human Capital Hoax: Work, Debt and Insecurity in the Era of Uberization by Peter Fleming
Human capital theory is widely celebrated as a framework for explaining how organizations and societies can build skill, innovation and socio-economic wellbeing. This paper argues that it can result in the opposite. Human capital theory fundamentally individualizes people, placing the costs of economic activity onto the employee. Self-employment, on-demand business models, freelancing and what some term the Uberization of the workforce follow from the idea that people are ultimately responsible for their own economic fate. Instead of being freer and wealthier, human capitalists are just as likely to be mired in debt, insecure and dominated by authoritarian management systems.
Giving Meaning to Everyday Work After Terrorism Derin Kent
Global terrorism in the early 21st century appears to be an inevitable part of organizational life. Even among people not personally injured in an attack, the immediate aftermath can be a period of hardship, stress and sensemaking. This paper develops theory about how people give meaning to their work after terrorism. In contrast to views of everyday work as something that loses significance in times of such tragedy, this paper outlines the conditions under which individuals are also likely to find positive meaning in it.
Engaging and Misbehaving: How Dignity Affects Employee Work Behaviors
Kristen Lucas, Andrew S. Manikas, Shaunn Mattingly, Cole J. Crider
This paper explores the influence of workplace dignity on employee work behaviors that affect organizational performance. Framing our inquiry with Sharon Bolton’s yet-untested multidimensional theory of dignity, Randy Hodson’s content-coded ethnographic data is analyzed to reveal that increases in workplace dignity tend to predict increases in employee engagement, yet have mixed effects on counterproductive workplace behaviors. The authors identify the critical role of safe and secure working conditions in enabling and constraining employees’ ability to redress or resist workplace indignities with counterproductive workplace behaviors.
Legitimacy Struggles and Political Corporate Social Responsibility in International Settings: A Comparative Discursive Analysis of a Contested Investment in Latin America
Maria Joutsenvirta, Eero Vaara
This paper examines the discursive legitimation of controversial investment projects to provide a better understanding of the ways in which corporate social responsibility is constructed in international settings. The analysis helps to better understand how CSR involves discourse-ideological struggles, how CSR is embedded in international relations, and how CSR is mediatized in contemporary globalizing society. By so doing, this paper contributes to critical studies of CSR as well as research on legitimation more generally
Crystalline Empowerment: Negotiating Tensions in Refugee Resettlement
Tiffany A Dykstra-DeVette, Heather E Canary
As the number of forcibly displaced people continues to rise worldwide, humanitarian organizations are playing a growing role in finding solutions. This study investigates one of the world’s largest refugee resettlement organizations as it pilots innovative empowerment programs. With very little research regarding organizational rhetoric, discourse, and practices within resettlement agencies, there is great need for understanding the tensions that arise amid empowerment processes.
Translating Institutional Change to Local Communities: The Role of Linking Organizations
Kathryn L. Heinze, Sara Soderstrom, Justin E. Heinze
The authors examine the processes and mechanisms of translating broader field-level change to the local community, drawing on insights from the inhabited institutions perspective and community-based institutionalism. In particular, they develop the concept of linking organizations as key actors in institutional change that connect the broader field and community levels.