How Do Societal Institutions Affect Organizations and the Way That Work Is Organized?

5999449329_023f404bbd_z[We are pleased to welcome Trish Reay, Editor-in-Chief of Organization Studies.]

There is a wealth of information in studies categorized as Comparative Institutionalism that can provide important insights into current questions about the collective organizing of work. In the latest virtual Perspectives issue of Organization Studies, authors Jasper Hotho and Ayse Saka-Helmhout provide an overview of the literature on comparative institutionalism and show how key themes within this body of research can make important contributions to current debates in organization theory. For example, by paying more attention to the institutional differences across societies, researchers can respond to calls for a more contextualized and holistic understanding of organizations. Current Issue CoverBecause institutional scholars have recently been focused on the organizational field level, they have almost ignored previous studies showing how organizations and society tend to reflect each other structurally. Hotho and Saka-Helmhout explain how established knowledge about the connections between societal institutions and organizations can facilitate new organizational insights.

More specifically, Hotho and Saka-Helmhout identify three themes in the comparative institutionalism literature that can inform our understanding of organizational behavior. Theme 1: Societal differences in modes of organizing have consequences for organizational work practices. Theme 2: Relationships between societal institutions impact economic organization and the market structure within which organizations pursue multiple paths to performance. Theme 3: Different societal institutions hold significant implications for multinational enterprises because they must straddle the variety.

These themes are elaborated on with particular attention to eight previously published articles that have contributed to the development of key ideas and turning points within comparative institutionalism. These articles are available to access for free online in the Comparative Institutionalism Perspectives issue, which you can access here.

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*Building image attributed to Peter Alred Hess (CC)

Business and Society Editors on the Intersection of Business and Society

BAS_v50_72ppiRGB_powerpointFounded in 1960, Business & Society was the first journal exclusively dedicated to publishing research in the field of business and society. In their editorial from the upcoming July issue of Business & Society, editors Andrew Crane, Irene Henriques, Bryan Husted, and Dirk Matten discuss the scope of the business and society field relevant to the journal.

From the editorial:

Our vision for Business & Society is for the journal to become the leading, peer-reviewed outlet for scholarly work dealing specifically with the intersection of business and society. So what counts as the intersection of business and society? As a journal, we have to determine the boundaries of the field that we are covering. Certainly, we have found that when making decisions on whether manuscripts should go out for review, we must first decide whether the manuscript fits the journal. This is not an exact science—it is always a judgment call—but as editors, we feel it is necessary to provide prospective authors some guidance on what, in our opinion, fits and does not fit. As such the purpose of this Editors’ Insight is to clarify some of our thinking on this issue.

You can read the rest of the editorial from Business & Society free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest research from Business & Society? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

Unlimited Free Access to Unscripted Voices of 21st Century Workers “On the Front Line”

gears-94220_640[We’re pleased to welcome Paul Brook, one of the editors of Work, employment, society. All 10 articles in the On the Front Line (OTFL) collection are being made permanently free as part of Work, employment and society’s wider commitment to public sociology.]

These powerful testimonies of employees’ accounts of their working lives form a series of vivid, ‘behind the scenes’, portraits of the contemporary world of work. Each story is told frankly and all brim with a rich mixture of hope, despair, enjoyment and anger, revealing the hidden, often harsh, realities of work in the 21st century.

These popular and compelling stories are being increasingly used for university teaching but can now be taken-up by schools, colleges and others keen to get ‘under the skin’ of today’s world of work and employment. In doing so, we hope to introduce individuals and groups outside of the academy, especially young people, to the richness of what C. Wright Mills called the “sociological imagination”.

F1.mediumThe OTFL collection includes accounts of the indignities of working as a cleaner in a luxury hotel; an activist’s story during a protracted factory strike; the dangerous health consequences for a slimming club consultant striving to ‘look the part’; the unremitting time demands on a supermarket manager; the endemic abuse and violence suffered by a trainee haute cuisine chef in Michelin starred kitchens; and the personal struggles of a pioneer woman priest.

OTFL also offers first-hand accounts of major political-industrial events, such as working inside HBOS bank during the 2008 financial crisis; a pit supervisor’s experience of Britain’s miners’ strike of 1984-85; organising inside the factory occupation movement as part of the Argentinian anti-IMF uprising of 2001-02; and the disturbing account of work under hazardous conditions in a Scottish plastics factory shortly before a devastating explosion that killed nine workers in 2004.

Unlike standard research articles, OTFL contributions are co-authored by the worker and an academic/s. Each one is preceded by a brief scene-setting commentary written by the academic. If you would like to write an OTFL article, the Work, employment and society website has guidance. You can also contact us to discuss your ideas further.

Making OTFL free access is part of Work, employment and society’s wider commitment to public sociology. We want to encourage more scholars to work with workers and employees, especially the less powerful, to help give voice to their hidden experiences and unheard views. We also want to make our small contribution to ensuring that workers’ experiences, views and ideas will not be consigned to the “enormous condescension of posterity”, as E.P. Thompson famously claimed was the fate of earlier generations of workers.

Examining Markets, Marketing, Consumers, and Society through Documentary Films

Russell Belk, York University, published “Examining Markets, Marketing, Consumers, and Society through Documentary Films” on August 23rd, 2011 in Journal of Macromarketing’s OnlineFirst collection. Dr. Belk kindly provided the following responses to his article.

Who is the target audience for this article?

Those with an interest in macromarketing, historical, or film research regarding markets, marketing, consumption, and society.

What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

I have been making documentary videos myself for the past 25 years and have been co-chairing a consumer research film festival for the past 10 years.

Were there findings that were surprising to you?

This is a conceptual piece trying to stir researchers to utilize documentary films in their work, so there are no findings as such.

How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

I hope it opens scholars eyes to the wealth of documentary material available.  On YouTube alone there are over 150 million videos posted, many of which qualify as documentary films.  All constitute a valuable archive of consumer (and marketer) use of visual online media and are ripe for analysis.  Together with other resources identified or exemplified, the time has never been better for documentary film research.

How does this study fit into your body of work/line of research?

As noted above, I have created documentary films as well as encouraged others to make them and show them at the film festivals I have coordinated.  I am now encouraging others to make use of the growing corpus of relevant film material.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could go back and do this study again?

If I had more pages I could go on and on about relevant films and provide many more examples.  Also after a few years the supply of available film material is not only going to be much larger, but will likely take new forms that we cannot imagine at present.

To learn more about the Journal of Macromarketing, please follow this link.

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