Notes on the Meaning of Work

[We’re pleased to welcome author, Anne-Laure Fayard of New York University. She recently published an article in the Journal of Management Inquiry entitled “Notes on the Meaning of Work: Labor, Work, and Action in the 21st Century” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, she reflects on the backstory and motivation for this research:]

This piece is a reflective essay that I started a few years ago when I submitted a paper for a subtheme “Reflections on New Worlds of Work” for the EGOS conference. I had at the time two ongoing projects where the concept of “work” emerged as relevant: one was a research project on an open innovation platform for social innovation where I observed people spending a lot of time working on developing ideas and / or giving feedback to other participants although they did not seem to see it as work. At the same time, I had been noticing an increasing dissatisfaction with managers in a big international company where they kept complaining that their work has become boring and felt more like labor than work. These two empirical observations made me curious to explore more how people interpreted work as well as whether work as a practice has changed. Having been trained as a philosopher, I could not help to go back to texts and philosophers I’ve read. This led to a first version that I presented at the conference and the feedback was positive overall.

About a year later, I started reading more and more about AI, automation and future of work. I was invited to various seminars and working groups. One thing that was obvious to me was that the debates, sometime fierce, did not reflect one single understanding of the concept of work. In fact, that was one of the sources of the debates. It seemed to me that turning to philosophy would be generative. Indeed, one of the main preoccupations of philosophy is to clarify, through the analysis of meaning, the questions at stake. A philosophical analysis thus provides concepts that can explain empirical phenomena. I felt that the exploratory piece I had previously written had become particularly timely in the context of the debates on the future of work, and thus I revised it and submitted it to the Journal of Management Inquiry. I was lucky to have an editor and reviewers who thought my endeavor was worthwhile and pushed me to clarify and deepen my argument. In the process, the empirical focus (my original starting point) shifted on the gig economy. Along the way I read a lot about the issues and mobile on-demand platforms such as Uber. I also engaged with literatures that I did not know about and enjoyed learning about and integrating them in my thinking. One of the reviewers framed the review process as a constructive conversation and while the review process does not always feel like this, in this case, it really did feel like a constructive conversation where the reviewers suggested directions to explore theoretically and empirically. In the end, I hope these notes on the meaning of work will provide conceptual distinctions productive for the analysis of the “new worlds of work.”

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The Chrysalis Effect: Publication Bias in Management Research

14523043285_2235b0dbb4_zHow well do published management articles represent the broader management research? To say that questionable research practices impact only a few articles ignores the broader, systemic issue effecting management research. According to authors Ernest Hugh O’Boyle Jr., George Christopher Banks, and Erik Gonzalez-Mulé, the high pressure for academics to publish leads many to engage in questionable research, thereby leading the resulting published articles to be biased and unrepresentative. In their article, “The Chrysalis Effect: How Ugly Initial Results Metamorphosize Into Beautiful Articles,” published in Journal of Management, O’Boyle, Banks, and Gonzalez-Mulé delve into the issue of questionable research practices. The abstract for the paper:

The issue of a published literature not representative of the population of research is Current Issue Covermost often discussed in terms of entire studies being suppressed. However, alternative sources of publication bias are questionable research practices (QRPs) that entail post hoc alterations of hypotheses to support data or post hoc alterations of data to support hypotheses. Using general strain theory as an explanatory framework, we outline the means, motives, and opportunities for researchers to better their chances of publication independent of rigor and relevance. We then assess the frequency of QRPs in management research by tracking differences between dissertations and their resulting journal publications. Our primary finding is that from dissertation to journal article, the ratio of supported to unsupported hypotheses more than doubled (0.82 to 1.00 versus 1.94 to 1.00). The rise in predictive accuracy resulted from the dropping of statistically nonsignificant hypotheses, the addition of statistically significant hypotheses, the reversing of predicted direction of hypotheses, and alterations to data. We conclude with recommendations to help mitigate the problem of an unrepresentative literature that we label the “Chrysalis Effect.”

You can read “The Chrysalis Effect: How Ugly Initial Results Metamorphosize Into Beautiful Articles” from Journal of Management free for the next two weeks by clicking here.

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*Library image attributed to Apple Vershoor (CC)

 

How Can Organization Theory Help Explain the Emergence of ISIL?

28852073782_27d6f4e78c_zThe emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in recent years has been a cause for concern across the globe, particularly as the terrorist group becomes not only more organized, but also more prominent. Analyzing the rise of ISIL, many researchers are unsure of what the future holds for ISIL, and how much longer the group can remain cohesive, especially in the face of opposition by many different groups. In a recent article published in Journal of Management Inquiry, authors Tuomas Kuronen and Aki-Mauri Huhtinen approach the issue of ISIL’s development in terms of the theoretical perspective of “rhizome.” Their paper, “Organizing Conflict: The Rhizome of Jihad,” delves into the rise of ISIL, the question of how long ISIL can endure, and how the organization of ISIL compares with Western military organizations. The abstract for the article:

In this essay, we study the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) Current Issue Coverfrom the theoretical perspective of the “rhizome” coined by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. We understand organizing in general and conflict emergence in particular through the becoming of the rhizomatic ontology of organizing. In our view, the emergence of organizing is a manifestation of a rhizomatic basis of things, seen in nomadic strategies of pursuing revolutionary aims and resisting power hegemonies. We discuss how armed resistance groups relate to time and duration, and their stark contrast to Western professional, expeditionary armies operating in a clearly defined space and time. We complement the established philosophical and organizing-theoretical approaches to being and becoming in understanding conflict emergence with the rhizomatic perspective. We conclude our essay by discussing both theoretical and practical implications for understanding and managing conflict.

You can read “Organizing Conflict: The Rhizome of Jihad” from Journal of Management Inquiry free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to keep current on all of the latest research from Journal of Management InquiryClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Soldier image attributed to Kurdishstruggle (CC)

Reflections on Academic Research and Writing: The Ecstasy and the Agony (Part 1)

As a blog catering to academics, researchers and practitioners, Management INK features important content on key research topics. Besides highlighting top scholarship, we (the editorial team for the blog) wish for this venue to serve as a resource to inform but also to equip and grow readers in their research and writing activities. Lately we have seen some excellent articles published that speak to various issues surrounding academic research and writing. Over the next few days, we are pleased to provide a forum for reading and discussing articles that touch on topics, such as, the purpose of research, ethical publishing, peer review, writing practices, and collaboration in research. We invite you to read, share, and offer comments both here in the blog and on our Twitter page @SAGEManagement. Let’s dive in!

In this month’s issue of Administrative Science Quarterly, Editor-in-Chief Gerald F. Davis, asks “What is Organizational Research For?” In his article, Davis asks whose interests management research serves and whose interests should it serve? For research to shape decisions for public benefit, he adds “we need to make sure we know the constituency that research is serving.”

Organizational research is guided by standards of what journals will publish and what gets rewarded in ASQ_v60n2_Jun2014_cover.inddscholarly careers. This system can promote novelty rather than truth and impact rather than coherence. The advent of big data, combined with our current system of scholarly career incentives, is likely to yield a high volume of novel papers with sophisticated econometrics and no obvious prospect of cumulative knowledge development. Moreover, changes in the world of organizations are not being met with changes in how and for whom organizational research is done. It is time for a dialogue on who and what organizational research is for and how that should shape our practice.

Access the rest of the Table of Contents for this issue of Administrative Science Quarterly by clicking here. Keep up-to-date on all the latest news and research from ASQ by clicking here to sign up for e-alerts.

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This article was featured on Harvard Business Review’s blog this week.

The June Issue of Administrative Science Quarterly is Now Online!

The June issue of Administrative Science Quarterly is now available and can be read online for free for the next 30 days. This issue offers a range of engaging articles on organizational studies as well as insightful book reviews.

Administrative Science Quarterly Editor-in-Chief Gerald F. Davis opens the issue with his editorial essay entitled “What Is Organizational Research For?” You can read the abstract below:

Organizational research is guided by standards of what journals will publish ASQ_v60n2_Jun2014_cover.inddand what gets rewarded in scholarly careers. This system can promote novelty rather than truth and impact rather than coherence. The advent of big data, combined with our current system of scholarly career incentives, is likely to yield a high volume of novel papers with sophisticated econometrics and no obvious prospect of cumulative knowledge development. Moreover, changes in the world of organizations are not being met with changes in how and for whom organizational research is done. It is time for a dialogue on who and what organizational research is for and how that should shape our practice.

You can access the Table of Contents for this issue of Administrative Science Quarterly by clicking here. You can keep up-to-date on all the latest news and research from Administrative Science Quarterly by clicking here to sign up for e-alerts!

Listen to the Latest Podcast from Journal of Management on “The Chrysalis Effect”

jom coverIn the latest podcast from Journal of Management, Ernest Hugh O’Boyle Jr, lead author of the article “The Chrysalis Effect: How Ugly Initial Results Metamorphosize Into Beautiful Articles” speaks with Journal of Management Associate Editor Fred Oswald about the article’s findings concerning questionable research practices.

The podcast can be downloaded by clicking here and the article can be read for free by clicking here. Follow this link to subscribe on iTunes.

o'boyleeErnest Hugh O’Boyle Jr is an assistant professor of Management and Organizations at the University of Iowa. His research interests include questionable research practices, outcome reporting bias, publication bias, structural equation modeling, meta-analysis, “dark” personality traits, and superstar effects. He has been published in such journals as Journal of Management, Organizational Psychology Review, Family Business Review and International Business Review.

FredOswaldFred Oswald currently serves the Rice University Department of Psychology as Chair, and he is a Professor in the Industrial/Organizational Psychology program. His published research addresses the reliability and validity of tests administered to applicants in organizational, education and military settings. Substantively, his work deals with defining, modeling and predicting societally relevant outcomes (e.g., job performance, academic performance, satisfaction, turnover) from psychological measures that are based on cognitive and motivational constructs (e.g., cognitive abilities, personality traits, situational judgment tests, job knowledge and skill, and biographical data). His statistical work in meta-analysis, structural equation modeling, and adverse impact also informs personnel selection issues and psychological testing in the research, practice and legal arenas.

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Jerry Davis asks “Why Do We Still Have Journals?”

book-look-1382050-mGerald F. Davis, editor of Administrative Science Quarterly, explores this question in his editorial essay from the June issue of from Administrative Science Quarterly.

The abstract:

The Web has greatly reduced the barriers to entry for new journals and other platforms for communicating scientific output, and the number of journals continues to multiply. This leaves readers and authors with the daunting cognitive challenge of navigating the literature and discerning contributionsASQ_v59n2_Jun2014_cover.indd that are both relevant and significant. Meanwhile, measures of journal impact that might guide the use of the literature have become more visible and consequential, leading to “impact gamesmanship” that renders the measures increasingly suspect. The incentive system created by our journals is broken. In this essay, I argue that the core technology of journals is not their distribution but their review process. The organization of the review process reflects assumptions about what a contribution is and how it should be evaluated. Through their review processes, journals can certify contributions, convene scholarly communities, and curate works that are worth reading. Different review processes thereby create incentives for different kinds of work. It’s time for a broader dialogue about how we connect the aims of the social science enterprise to our system of journals.

Read “Why Do We Still Have Journals?” from Administrative Science Quarterly for free by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest from Administrative Science Quarterly? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!