Eye-Tracking Methodology in Organizational Research

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Martin Meißner University of the Southern Denmark and Josua Oll of the University of Hamburg. They recently published an article in Organizational Research Methods entitled “The Promise of Eye-Tracking Methodology in Organizational Research: A Taxonomy, Review, and Future Avenues,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Meißner recounts the events that led to the research and the significance it has to the field:]

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What motivated you to pursue this research?

Self-report methods continue to be widely used by organizational scholars, although their limitations are well-documented. Explicit calls have therefore been made for more frequent utilization of behavioral data and building on multi-method data sources. In this context, eye tracking (ET) represents one promising source of behavioral data. ET is widely employed in disciplines such as psychology and marketing, but only rarely used in organizational research. The paucity of ET studies in organizational research is surprising as other disciplines have used ET in areas of high relevance to organizational research, such as information search and decision-making, learning, training, and expertise. Furthermore, technological advances in recent years have greatly lowered the barriers for using eye tracking (ET) as a research tool in laboratory and field settings. Given that the costs for ET equipment are on a steady decline and that data quality and ease of use have also improved considerably over the years, we argue that the time is right to expand the standard methodological tool kit of organizational scholars by bringing ET to their minds and hands.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

The most challenging aspect was the development of our integrative taxonomy for eye tracking research. Several ET taxonomies already circulate in the literature but these usually approach ET from a very specific and quite narrow angle. The challenging part was thus to bring those different perspectives together and integrate them in such a way that the full methodological scope of ET comes across clearly.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

Our research is innovative in the sense that we introduce ET, and thus a new mode of behavioral data, to the field of organizational science. We further offer a novel taxonomy for ET research that integrates the more specific perspectives on ET as presented in prior work. Our paper serves as a knowledge brokering paper that reviews and synthesizes past research, and provides future avenues for the application of ET in organizational research. We therefore hope that our work will stimulate the organizational reader’s imagination and motivation for using ET and thereby contribute to the method’s future dissemination and to the advancement of organizational science alike.

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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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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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Book Review: Secrecy at Work: The Hidden Architecture of Organizational Life

Cover of Secrecy at Work by Jana Costas and Christopher Grey  Jana Costas, Christopher Grey : Secrecy at Work: The Hidden Architecture of Organizational Life. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016. 202 pp. $27.95, paper.

Blake E. Ashforth of Arizona State University Tempe recently contributed a book review in Administrative Science QuarterlyAn excerpt from the book review:

In their provocative new book, Jana Costas and Christopher Grey focus not on organizational secrets per se, the content that is concealed, but on organizational secrecy, “the processes through which secrets are kept” (p. 7). Note the plural in “processes,” as the dynamics and their ramifications can become quite complex. The authors’ goal, which they amply meet, is to bring secrecy out from the shadows, as it were, and convince the reader that it warrants far more scholarly Current Issue Coverattention as both an important topic in its own right and as a complement to management topics such as leadership, organizational change, and politics.

The book’s subtitle, “The Hidden Architecture of Organizational Life,” speaks to their core argument: that secrecy explicitly and implicitly creates a compartmentalized structure linked by narrow corridors, a machinery for surveillance and monitoring, and organizational norms and professional ethics codes, all coupled with processes for sharing and not sharing information. “Like electricity or water in buildings, secret knowledge must always be penned in to proscribed places and forced to flow around prescribed routes” (p. 140).

You can read the rest of the book review from Administrative Science Quarterly free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to keep current on all of the latest research published by Administrative Science QuarterlyClick here to sign up for e-alerts! You can also follow the journal on Twitter–click here to read recent tweets from Administrative Science Quarterly!

You can also read additional blog content for Administrative Science Quarterly content from the ASQ Blog, as well as Editor Henrich Greve’s blog, Organizational Musings.

 

Will Intelligent Machines Take Over Decision Making in Organizations?

20445410340_c1a0fe6a6a_z[We’re pleased to welcome Sukanto Bhattacharya of Deakin University. Sukanto recently published an article in Group & Organization Management with co-authors Ken Parry and Michael Cohen, entitled “Rise of the Machines: A Critical Consideration of Automated Leadership Decision Making in Organizations.”]

What if it is a machine that provides an organization’s vision for the future instead of a visionary human? Are you willing to accept a machine as your boss? What might happen if your next promotion is decided by a robot?

Intelligent machines, from automobiles to dishwashers, are increasingly making forays into every conceivable dimension of human life with a promise of making things better but perhaps not always quite delivering on that promise. Machine intelligence has permeated various levels of organizational decision-making ranging from robotic technology on production shop-floors to intelligent decision support systems for top management.

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In their recent article published in Group & Organization Management, authors Ken Parry, Michael Cohen and Sukanto Bhattacharya hypothesize a scenario where it is possible for an intelligent machine to assume the role of an organizational leader and carry out the decision-making tasks. Without engaging in a debate as to the likelihood of such a scenario, the authors present an overview of the current state of the art in artificial intelligence research, allowing readers to form their own opinion on the plausibility of such a scenario. Assuming the eventuation of such a scenario, the authors then proceed to critically consider some of the potential outcomes, both positive as well as negative, from automated organizational leadership. They posit a design framework for developing an intelligent leadership decision-making system with the objective of ensuring the positive outcomes while thwarting some of the negative (and in some cases, outright dangerous) ones. Their article aims to open up a new line of intellectual deliberations, involving organizational and management sciences on one hand and artificial intelligence as well as systems development on the other, in addressing a number of important moral/ethical issues that they identified.

The abstract for the paper:

Machines are increasingly becoming a substitute for human skills and intelligence in a number of fields where decisions that are crucial to group performance have to be taken under stringent constraints—for example, when an army contingent has to devise battlefield tactics or when a medical team has to diagnose and treat a life-threatening condition or illness. We hypothesize a scenario where similar machine-based intelligent technology is available to support, and even substitute human decision making in an organizational leadership context. We do not engage in any metaphysical debate on the plausibility of such a scenario. Rather, we contend that given what we observe in several other fields of human decision making, such a scenario may very well eventuate in the near future. We argue a number of “positives” that can be expected to emerge out of automated group and organizational leadership decision making. We also posit several anti-theses—“negatives” that can also potentially emerge from the hypothesized scenario and critically consider their implications. We aim to bring leadership and organization theorists, as well as researchers in machine intelligence, together at the discussion table for the first time and postulate that while leadership decision making in a group/organizational context could be effectively delegated to an artificial-intelligence (AI)-based decision system, this would need to be subject to the devising of crucial safeguarding conditions.

You can read “Rise of the Machines: A Critical Consideration of Automated Leadership Decision Making in Organizations” from Group & Organization Management free for the next two weeks by clicking here.

Want to stay up to date on all of the latest research published by Group & Organization Management? Click here to sign up for e-alerts! You can also follow the journal on Twitter by clicking here.

*Binary code image attributed to Christiaan Colen (CC)

Read the Latest Issue of Administrative Science Quarterly!

Current Issue CoverThe September 2016 issue of Administrative Science Quarterly is now published online and can be accessed free for the next 30 days! The September issue includes a 60th anniversary essay from Karl E. Weick of the University of Michigan, addressing the experience of organizational inquiry. The abstract for the essay:

Jerry Davis’s (2015) question “What is organizational research for?” is ill-served by the narrow answer “settled science.” Constraints of comprehension may give the illusion that organizational research represents settled science. But the experience of inquiring actually comprises a greater variety of actions that increase the meaning of present research experience and the contributions it makes. I discuss acts of conjecture, differentiation, attachment, affirmation, complication, discernment, interruption, and representation to illustrate that meaningful contributions are generated by actions associated with connecting perceptions to concepts. ASQ’s 60th anniversary is an opportune time to make these interim contributions more explicit.

In addition, the articles in the September issue address topics like whitened resumes, forecasting the success of new ideas, and combining the logics of industry and culture can lead to new possibilities for organizations. You can read the latest issue free for the next 30 days by clicking here.

Want to keep up with all of the latest Administrative Science Quarterly publications? Click here to sign up for e-alerts! You can also find more Administrative Science Quarterly content on the ASQ Blog here, as well as the Organizational Musings blog from Editor Henrich Greve here.

Book Review: Technology Choices: Why Occupations Differ in Their Embrace of New Technology

Technology ChoicesDiane E. Bailey, Paul M. Leonardi : Technology Choices: Why Occupations Differ in Their Embrace of New Technology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015. 288 pp.$32.00/£22.95, cloth.

Asaf Darr of University of Haifa recently reviewed Technology Choices: Why Occupations Differ in Their Embrace of New Technology in Administrative Science Quarterly. An excerpt from the book review:

Bailey and Leonardi are leading ethnographers of work who acquired their reputations through meticulous fieldwork, comparative research designs, and insightful use of general themes emerging from the data to develop middle-range theory. All these qualities are demonstrated in this book, which summarizes a decade of research into the engineering profession, with an emphasis on product design work. The book compares the work of automotive design engineers, software engineers, and structural engineers; the technologies they choose to employ in their daily work; Current Issue Coverand the division of labor that structures their work.

The book contributes to organizational literature in at least three meaningful ways. First, it provides an important description of design engineering work, highlighting its heterogeneity. Second, it identifies key factors that shape the choices engineering specialists make regarding their work tools. Third, it lays the grounds for a theory that can explain and even predict why and how occupations make decisions about the technologies they will use in their daily work. This theory is grounded in core elements of occupations, such as distinct skills and local divisions of labor, as well as in the surrounding environment, where variables such as market forces and institutional factors influence technological choice.

You can read the rest of the book review from Administrative Science Quarterly by clicking here. Want to stay up to date on all of the latest content published by Administrative Science QuarterlyClick here to sign up for e-alerts!