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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ORM Best Paper Awards

orma_21_3_coverWe are excited to congratulate the following authors for winning the Organizational Research Methods 2017 Best Paper Award. This year two papers tied for Best Paper! Below are the abstracts of each article. Please note that the full articles will be free to read for a limited time.


Congratulations Jose M. Cortina of George Mason University, Jennifer Green of George Mason University, Kathleen Keeler of George Mason University, and Robert J. Vandenberg of the University of Georgia.

Below is the abstract from the award winning article, Degrees of Freedom in SEM: Are We Testing the Models That We Claim to Test? in which their research processes and findings are briefly introduced.

800px-6dof_en.jpgStructural equation modeling (SEM) has been a staple of the organizational sciences for decades. It is common to report degrees of freedom (df) for tested models, and it should be possible for a reader to recreate df for any model in a published paper. We reviewed 784 models from 75 papers published in top journals in order to understand df-related reporting practices and discover how often reported df matched those that we computed based on the information given in the papers. Among other things, we found that both df and the information necessary to compute them were available about three-quarters of the time. We also found that computed df matched reported df only 62% of the time. Discrepancies were particularly common in structural (as opposed to measurement) models and were often large in magnitude. This means that the models for which fit indices are offered are often different from those described in published papers. Finally, we offer an online tool for computing df and recommendations, the Degrees of Freedom Reporting Standards (DFRS), for authors, reviewers, and editors.


Congratulations Thomas Roulet of King’s College London, Michael Gill of the University of Bath, Sebsatien Stenger of the Institut Superieur de Gestion, Paris, and David Gill of the University of Nottingham.

You can find the abstract from their outstanding article, Reconsidering the Value of Covert Research: The Role of Ambiguous Consent in Participant Observation below, in which the authors briefly explain their research methods and introduce their interesting results.people-295145_960_720

In this article, we provide a nuanced perspective on the benefits and costs of covert research. In particular, we illustrate the value of such an approach by focusing on covert participant observation. We posit that all observational studies sit along a continuum of consent, with few research projects being either fully overt or fully covert due to practical constraints and the ambiguous nature of consent itself. With reference to illustrative examples, we demonstrate that the study of deviant behaviors, secretive organizations and socially important topics is often only possible through substantially covert participant observation. To support further consideration of this method, we discuss different ethical perspectives and explore techniques to address the practical challenges of covert participant observation, including; gaining access, collecting data surreptitiously, reducing harm to participants, leaving the site of study and addressing ethical issues.


Thank you for your hard work and dedication!

Meet the ORM editorial team! Click here to view their bios.


Degrees of Freedom Photo attributed to Free Photos.

Observation Photo attributed to Free Photos.

An Argument for Compassionate Research Methods

9505520762_1ec974cdf1_z[We are pleased to welcome Hans Hansen of Texas Tech University. Hans recently published an article in Organizational Research Methods, entitled “This is Going to Hurt: Compassionate Research Methods” with co-author Christine Quinn Trank of Vanderbilt University.]

Compassionate research hopes to make the world a better place by reducing suffering, but it can also provide our field with new theories, which we desperately need. When you look at the world with a new lens, you see new things, things that other lenses could not reveal. We hope that a compassionate approach can not only reveal new aspects of existing phenomena, but entirely new phenomena as well, and lead to entirely new theories of organizing.

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The topic of compassion is making an impact in organizational studies, and interest continues to increase, so our aim was to provide a methodology for this burgeoning field. In addition to moving us in new directions, we also hope to increase compassionate research by clearing outlining a distinct method.

We hope to give the field a push, and just as grounded theory provided a clear method for inductive research, we hope compassionate methods become the guide for compassionate research, and be generative in providing new insights and theories.

The abstract for the paper:

As compassion has become established in the organizational literature as an important area of study, calls for increased compassion in our own work and research have increased. Compassion can take many forms in academic work, but in this article we propose a framework for compassionate research methods. Not only driven by caring for others and a desire for improving their lot, compassionate research methods actually immerse the researcher in compassionate work. We propose that compassionate research methods include three important elements: ethnography, aesthetics, and emotionality. Together, these provide opportunities for emergent theoretical experimentation that can lead to both the alleviation of suffering in the immediate research context and new theoretical insights. To show the possibilities of this method, we use empirical data from a unique setting—the first U.S. permanent death penalty defense team.

You can read “This is Going to Hurt: Compassionate Research Methods” from Organizational Research Methods free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to keep current on all of the latest research from Organizational Research MethodsClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Conversation image attributed to Andreas Bloch (CC)

Top Five Articles from Organizational Research Methods

JPG READINGSummer is just around the corner, bringing with it longer days and warmer weather. To celebrate the season, we present a list of most read articles from Organizational Research Methods to add to your summer reading list.

“Seeking Qualitative Rigor in Inductive Research: Notes on the Gioia Methodology” by Dennis A. Gioia, Kevin G. Corley, and Aimee Hamilton (January 2013)

For all its richness and potential for discovery, qualitative research has been critiqued as too often lacking in scholarly rigor. The authors summarize a systematic approach to new concept development and grounded theory articulation that is designed to
bring “qualitative rigor” to the conduct and presentation of inductive research.

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“Validation of a New General Self-Efficacy Scale” by Gilad Chen, Stanley M. Gully, and Dov Eden (January 2001)

Researchers have suggested that general self-efficacy (GSE)can substantially contribute to organizational theory, research, and practice. Unfortunately, the limited construct validity work conducted on commonly used GSE measures has highlighted such potential problems as low content validity and multidimensionality. The authors developed a new GSE (NGSE) scale and compared its psychometric properties and validity to that of the Sherer et al. General Self-Efficacy Scale (SGSE). Studies in two countries found that the NGSE scale has higher construct validity than the SGSE scale. Although shorter than the SGSE scale, the NGSE scale demonstrated high reliability, predicted specific self-efficacy (SSE) for a variety of tasks in various contexts, and moderated the influence of previous performance on subsequent SSE formation. Implications, limitations, and directions for future organizational research are discussed.

“Common Beliefs and Reality About PLS: Comments on Rönkkö and Evermann (2013)” by Jörg Henseler, Theo K. Dijkstra, Marko Sarstedt, Christian M. RingleAdamantios Diamantopoulos, Detmar W. Straub, David J. Ketchen Jr.Joseph F. Hair, G. Tomas M. Hult, and Roger J. Calantone (April 2014)

This article addresses Rönkkö and Evermann’s criticisms of the partial least squares (PLS) approach to structural equation modeling. We contend that the alleged shortcomings of PLS are not due to problems with the technique, but instead to three problems with Rönkkö and Evermann’s study: (a) the adherence to the common factor model, (b) a very limited simulation designs, and (c) overstretched generalizations of their findings. Whereas Rönkkö and Evermann claim to be dispelling myths about PLS, they have in reality created new myths that we, in turn, debunk. By examining their claims, our article contributes to reestablishing a constructive discussion of the PLS method and its properties. We show that PLS does offer advantages for exploratory research and that it is a viable estimator for composite factor models. This can pose an interesting alternative if the common factor model does not hold. Therefore, we can conclude that PLS should continue to be used as an important statistical tool for management and organizational research, as well as other social science disciplines.

“Using Generalized Estimating Equations for Longitudinal Data Analysis” by Gary A. Ballinger (April 2004)

The generalized estimating equation (GEE) approach of Zeger and Liang facilitates analysis of data collected in longitudinal, nested, or repeated measures designs. GEEs use the generalized linear model to estimate more efficient and unbiased regression parameters relative to ordinary least squares regression in part because they permit specification of a working correlation matrix that accounts for the form of within-subject correlation of responses on dependent variables of many different distributions, including normal, binomial, and Poisson. The author briefly explains the theory behind GEEs and their beneficial statistical properties and limitations and compares GEEs to suboptimal approaches for analyzing longitudinal data through use of two examples. The first demonstration applies GEEs to the analysis of data from a longitudinal lab study with a counted response variable; the second demonstration applies GEEs to analysis of data with a normally distributed response variable from subjects nested within branch offices ofan organization.

“Answers to 20 Questions About Interrater Reliability and Interrater Agreement” by James M. LeBreton and Jenell L. Senter (October 2008)

The use of interrater reliability (IRR) and interrater agreement (IRA) indices has increased dramatically during the past 20 years. This popularity is, at least in part, because of the increased role of multilevel modeling techniques (e.g., hierarchical linear modeling and multilevel structural equation modeling) in organizational research. IRR and IRA indices are often used to justify aggregating lower-level data used in composition models. The purpose of the current article is to expose researchers to the various issues surrounding the use of IRR and IRA indices often used in conjunction with multilevel models. To achieve this goal, the authors adopt a question-and-answer format and provide a tutorial in the appendices illustrating how these indices may be computed using the SPSS software.

All of the above articles from Organizational Research Methods will be free to access for the next two weeks. Want to know all about the latest research from Organizational Research Methods? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Reading image attributed to Herry Lawford (CC)

What Effect Does Status Endowment Have on Customer Loyalty Programs?

02JSR13_Covers.indd[We’re pleased to welcome Lena Steinhoff of the University of Paderborn in Germany. Dr. Steinhoff recently collaborated with Andreas Eggert of University of Paderborn and Ina Garnefeld of the University of Wuppertal on their paper from Journal of Service Research entitled “Managing the Bright and Dark Sides of Status Endowment in Hierarchical Loyalty Programs.”]

When I opened the envelope and found a golden customer card issued by a hotel chain that I had hardly patronized, I was surprised and had some mixed feelings about it, which is how this research project began. Indeed, service companies purposefully offer elevated status to some customers who do not meet the required spending level, in an attempt to profit from the profound allure of status. This is what we call status endowment, which we define in our paper as awards of elevated status to customers who are not entitled to it.

Recently, several service firms have begun experimenting with status endowment, including Accor Hotels (A|Club), Hertz Car Rental (Hertz Gold Plus Rewards), and Hilton Hotels & Resorts (Hilton HHonors). An Internet search of company websites and customer forums reveals that among the top 100 North American loyalty programs, status endowment exists in more than 40% of those that rely on hierarchical programs. Yet, the emotional, attitudinal, and behavioral consequences of status endowment are not well understood, so scholarly research has a chance to provide marketing practitioners with a better understanding of this customer management instrument before it becomes a standard tool.

Employing three research formats (qualitative, experimental, survey) and covering various industries, we identify differential effects of status endowment that have three key implications for services management. First, there is a bright and a dark side of status endowment. Customer gratitude enhances loyalty, yet customer skepticism acts as an opposing force. Conventional wisdom assumes that people react positively to preferential treatment, but our research also demonstrates the unintended dark sides of relationship marketing investments on focal customers.

Second, the dark side of endowed elevated customer status is contingent on the design of the status endowment. Managers should carefully consider how to avoid fostering further skepticism. Status endowment should not be designed as a “pure” endowment but rather should augment customers’ perceptions of their own personal choice or achievement.

Third, the effectiveness of status endowment also depends on the characteristics of the loyalty program, including the perceived value of the preferential treatment. When elevated status offers high value benefits, customers’ attitudinal loyalty is higher than if the company provides elevated status with only low value, stemming from enhanced customer gratitude and reduced customer skepticism. While service companies such as airlines and hotels can easily offer high value preferential treatment by exploiting their underutilized, perishable assets at low additional costs, firms that lack unused capacities face a more challenging position.

You can read “Managing the Bright and Dark Sides of Status Endowment in Hierarchical Loyalty Programs” from Journal of Service Research for free by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest research like this from Journal of Service Research? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!


EggertAndreas Eggert is a chaired professor of marketing at the University of Paderborn, Germany. He is also a strategic research advisor at Newcastle University Business School, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. His research interests focus on the profitable management of customer relationships in both business-to-consumer and business-to-business markets, and his work has appeared in Journal of Marketing, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Journal of Service Research, Journal of Supply Chain Management, Journal of Business Research, European Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, Industrial Marketing Management, Journal of Business-to-Business Marketing, and Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing, among others.

csm_Lena_Steinhoff_2014_7847c236f1Lena Steinhoff is an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Paderborn, Germany. Her research interest is relationship marketing, with a particular focus on managing customer relationships through loyalty programs and customer engagement initiatives. Current projects include examining the impact of customer engagement initiatives on existing customer relationships and the performance effects of relationship marketing investments over the relationship life cycle. Her work has appeared in Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Journal of Service Management, and the Marketing Science Institute (MSI) Working Paper Series.

inaIna Garnefeld is a chaired professor of service management at the Schumpeter School of Business and Economics at the University of Wuppertal, Germany. Her research interests are services marketing and customer relationship management. Current projects include examining online and off-line word-of-mouth behavior and the use of incentives for managing customer communication behavior. Her work has appeared in Journal of Marketing, Journal of Service Research, International Journal of Electronic Commerce, and Journal of Service Management, among others.

Closing the Academic-Practitioner Gap: Stories of Success

[We’re pleased to welcome Megan W. Gerhardt who collaborated with Kenneth G. Brown and Anders Dysvik on their paper “A Bridge Over Troubled Water: A Former Military Officer, Corporate Executive, and Business School Dean Discusses the Research–Practice Divide” from Journal of Management Inquiry.]

Our article, “A Bridge Over Troubled Water: A Former Military Officer, Corporate Executive, and Business School Dean Discusses the Research–Practice Divide,” JMI_72ppiRGB_powerpointwas inspired by the continuing dialogue in business schools regarding the rigor versus relevance debate. Is the goal of research to be useful to practicing managers, or scientifically rigorous enough to meet the expectations of our most prestigious academic journals—and why are these things often viewed as mutually exclusive?
While many have strong opinions on the research-practice gap, we were intrigued by the idea of interviewing someone who has traversed the worlds of both research and practice to learn his views on this timely topic. Earl Walker is a retired US Army Colonel, a former corporate executive, and also a university faculty member and former business school dean. Often our views on the research-practice gap are influenced by the side of the gap we are standing on—yet Professor Walker has been across this divide more than once. In our interview, we explore his views on this topic, and found his answers thought provoking. Professor Walker discusses the types of scholarship he has found personally most useful, as well as those he recommends to his students and colleagues, and also suggests the need for business school deans to expand their view of the utility of a broad range of scholarship.

The abstract:

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of concern regarding the gap between academic research and the ongoing daily practice of running businesses. In this article, we interview an individual who successfully made the transition not only from practice to research, but from military service to corporate life and then to academics. Professor Earl Walker is a retired U.S. Army Colonel who commanded armor units in Vietnam, worked as a corporate executive, and then transitioned into academic teaching and later academic administration. Over the course of his academic career, he has served as the dean of three business schools. In the interview, Walker describes his perceptions of the practice–research gap, revealing that it is in some ways smaller and other ways larger than others believe it to be.

“A Bridge Over Troubled Water: A Former Military Officer, Corporate Executive, and Business School Dean Discusses the Research–Practice Divide” from Journal of Management Inquiry can be read for free by clicking here. Like what you read? Click here to sign up for e-alerts and get notified of all the latest research from Journal of Management Inquiry!

gerharmmMegan W. Gerhardt, PhD, is an associate professor of management in the Farmer School of Business, a Naus Family Faculty Scholar, and director of the Buck Rodgers Business Leadership Program at Miami University. She received her doctorate at the University of Iowa. She serves as an associate editor of the Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, and her research has appeared in a wide range of management and psychology journals. Her scholarship interests involve the impact of individual differences in motivation, leadership, and learning, with a specific emphasis on personality, gender, and generational differences in education and the workplace.

brownkKenneth G. Brown, PhD is a professor and Tippie research fellow at the Henry B. Tippie School of Business of the University of Iowa. He received his doctorate from Michigan State University. His primary research interests are in the areas of learning, motivation, and the science−practice interface. His research appears in a variety of top journals and edited volumes. He currently serves as the editor-in-chief of Academy of Management Learning and Education and on the editorial boards of a number of other journals.

dysvikAnders Dysvik is a professor of organizational behavior at the Department of Leadership and Organizational Behavior, BI Norwegian Business School. He received his PhD from BI Norwegian Business School. His work has been accepted for publication in journals such as Academy of Management Journal, The Leadership Quarterly, and Human Resource Management. He is the Norwegian representative to the Collaboration for Cross-Cultural Research on Contemporary Careers (5C). He conducts research within the fields of human resource management, organizational behavior, and leadership.

Does Working From Home Work?

When Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer this February banned her employees from working from home, an uproar ensued in the business community. Supporters of workplace flexibility – including telecommuting, flexible schedules, job sharing and more – suggest that it leads to increased job satisfaction and other benefits. But does it instead blur the line between business and personal lives, creating a “never-ending work week” that threatens work-life balance? A new study published in the Journal of Management Inquiry asks women business owners, who have the freedom to work when and where they choose, this very question:

JMI_72ppiRGB_150pixwWe saw that when the participants took time off during ordinary work hours to attend to nonwork-related responsibilities, they felt obligated to work more prior to the break or make up the time afterward. Flexibility is only an advantage if it sometimes enables a person to sacrifice work activities to nonwork obligations; otherwise, the imbalance always favors working more. When work becomes the fulcrum around which lives are organized, family, home, leisure, and all else are subordinated.

Click here to read “Living in a Culture of Overwork: An Ethnographic Study of Flexibility” by Kristina A. Bourne and Pamela J. Forman, both of the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. The study is forthcoming in the Journal of Management Inquiry and now available in the journal’s OnlineFirst section.