Monday, 6 Oct 2014

Julie Battilana, Harvard Business School

Harnessing Productive Tensions in Hybrid Organizations: The Case of Work Intergration Social Enterprises

Co-Authors: Metin Sengul - Boston College, Anne-Claire Pache - ESSEC Business School and Jacob Model - Stanford University

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS Building, 520 Galvez Mall, Stanford CA 94305 (Room 123)

We examine the factors that influence the social performance of hybrid organizations that pursue a social mission while engaging in commercial activities to sustain their operations. To do so, we focus on work integration social enterprises (WISEs) that aim to help unemployed people re-integrate into the workforce. We argue that social imprinting is an important driver of their social performance. Yet we contend that there is a paradox inherent in the social imprinting of hybrids, like WISEs, that serve separate groups of customers and beneficiaries: although social imprinting enhances their social performance, it also indirectly undermines it through the negative influence it has on economic productivity. Results based on panel data of French WISEs between 2003 and 2007 are congruent with our predictions. We then conduct a comparative analysis of case studies to understand how socially imprinted WISEs can mitigate the negative relationship between social imprinting and economic productivity. We find that they can do so by assigning responsibility for social and economic activities, respectively, to distinct groups while creating and maintaining Œspaces of negotiation¹‹ areas of interaction that allow members of both groups to discuss and come to an agreement on how to handle the trade-offs they face.

Monday, 20 Oct 2014

Eero Vaara, Hanken School of Economics

A Tropological Perspective on Category Emergence

Co-author is Eva Boxenbaum, Mines ParisTech

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS Building, 520 Galvez Mall, Stanford CA 94305 (Room 123)

How do new categories emerge prior to their becoming recognized as new social phenomena? Despite an increasing amount of recent attention placed on categories (Durand & Paolella, 2013; Glynn & Navis, 2010; Kennedy & Fiss, 2013; Vergne & Wry, 2014), there is a great deal that we still do not know about these processes. In particular, there is a paucity of knowledge of the role of language in establishing new categories and meaning in and around them. Previous studies have focused attention on the role of meaning and linguistic frames in category emergence (Cornelissen & Werner, 2014; Glynn & Navis, 2010; Kennedy & Fiss, 2013; Khaire & Wadhwani, 2010). In particular, this research has emphasized the role of metaphor (Cornelissen et al., 2011; Kennedy & Fiss, 2013). We wish to add to this stream of research by focusing attention not only on metaphors but also on other tropes. Tropes are modes of figurative speech; they are often seen as ‘rhetorical ornaments’, but we view them as fundamental building blocks in the social construction of reality (Burke, 1969; Lakoff and Johnson, 1980). In addition to metaphor, they include the other ‘master tropes’ of metonymy, synecdoche, irony, but also others such as hyperbole (Burke, 1969; Lakoff & Johnson, 1980; Oswick, Keenoy & Grant, 2002). We will in this paper argue that these tropes function as socio-cognitive devices that play a central role in category emergence. More specifically, we maintain that: 1)  metaphors serve to put an emergent category in perspective in terms of analogy and creation of new meaning, 2) metonymies establish contiguity in terms of networks of linkages and elaboration of content, 3) synecdoches provide exemplifying representations that are particularly central in the early diffusion of the category, 4) hyperboles add to the attraction of the emergent category, and 5) irony provides reflective sense-making devices for entertainment and resistance. In so doing, these tropes serve as means of structuring the emergent category and its boundaries, in the early positioning of the category vis-à-vis other categories, in adding to the appeal of the category, and finally in the initial legitimation of the category.

Monday, 27 Oct 2014

Christina Garsten and Adrienne Sörbom, Copenhagen Business School

Liquid mandate, global sway: World Economic Forum and the Shaping of Global Market Agendas

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS Building, 520 Galvez Mall, Stanford CA 94305 (Room 123)

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has emerged as one of the primary global agenda-setting organizations. Committed to “improving the state of the world,” the WEF operates as a platform for the shaping of global agendas, for detecting incipient changes in world polity, and for providing arenas for highly profiled business leaders, politicians, and academics to deliberate. The organization operates in a governance gap, in which multilateral organizations and nation-states are facing challenges with respect to contemporary economic and social problems. In this tension zone a number of organizations attempt to address governance problems and to stake out agendas for future development. The WEF is unique in engaging business leaders and the world’s largest corporations to spearhead the shaping of global, regional and industry agendas. However, unlike multilateral organizations (e.g. UN and IMF) the WEF operates as an independent non-profit organization and lacks a formal mandate to advance global agendas in a way that would have consequences for nation states or for corporations. Yet, this is in some respects what they aspire to do. The WEF is engaged in actively constructing authority and legitimacy by drawing upon the resources of other organizations to advance their interests. Lacking a formal mandate, the WEF must actively carve out, construct and expand their position to influence policy agendas.

Drawing on an ethnographic approach, comprising participant observation in meetings arranged by the WEF and in the WEF headquarters in Geneva as well as a large number of interviews and analysis of written documents and communication material this paper describes how the WEF is able to create a strong position for itself in the global arena, without a formal mandate. By gathering complex mixtures of resources accessible through their networks, they are able to create novel products, carry out novel practices, and claim for themselves a crucial mediating role in the larger socio-political structure.. This is done by strategic networking and by drawing organizations and individuals into its circuit by way of different forms of relationship-building and maintenance. These networks are then formalized to varying degrees and provided with a degree of stability and predictability. The paper describes the strategic formation of “communities” based on networks of experts and leaders in the spheres of business and politics. By strategic networking, the WEF can extend its own reach and capacity to act, by “borrowing” some of the agentic capacity of its member organizations.

The paper is part from the coming book, The Davos Beehive, World Economic Forum and the Shaping of Global Market Agendas (Stanford University Press, 2015). 

Monday, 3 Nov 2014

Keld Laursen, Copenhagen Business School

The Role of University Scientist Mobility for Industrial Innovation

Co-authors: Ann-Kathrine Ejsing, The Danish Insurance Association Ulrich Kaiser, Department of Business Administration, University of Zurich Hans Christian Kongsted, Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS Building, 520 Galvez Mall, Stanford CA 94305 (Room 123)

Scientific knowledge is an important ingredient in the innovation process. Drawing on the knowledge-based view of the firm and the literature on the relationship between science and technology, this paper scrutinizes the importance of university scientists’ mobility for firms’ innovative activities. Combining patent data and matched employer-employee data for Danish firms, we can track the labor mobility of R&D workers from 1999 to 2004. We find that new joiners contribute more than long-term employees to innovative activity in the focal firm. Among new firm recruits, we observe that newly hired former university researchers contribute more to innovative activity than newly hired recent graduates or joiners from firms, but only in firms with a high level of absorptive capacity in the form of recent experience of hiring university researchers. We find also that firms’ recent experience of hiring university researchers enhances the effect of newly hired recent graduates’ contributions to innovation.

Monday, 17 Nov 2014

Edward Walker, University of California, Los Angeles

“No Fracking Way!” Media Activism, Discursive Opportunities and Local Opposition against Hydraulic Fracturing in the United States, 2010-2013.

Co-sponsored with The Center for Work, Technology & Organization (WTO)

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS Building, 520 Galvez Mall, Stanford CA 94305 (Room 123)

Recent scholarship highlights the importance of public discourse for the mobilization and impact of social movements, but neglects how cultural products may shift discourse and thereby influence mobilization and political outcomes. This study investigates how activism against hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) utilized cultural artifacts to influence public perceptions and effect change. A systematic analysis of Internet search data, social media postings, and newspaper articles allows us to identify how the documentary Gasland reshaped public discourse. We find that Gasland contributed not only to greater online searching about fracking, but also to increased social media chatter and also to heightened mass media coverage. We also find that local screenings of Gasland contributed to anti-fracking mobilizations, which, in turn, affected the passage of local fracking moratoria in the Marcellus Shale states. These results bear implications not only for understanding movement outcomes, but also for theory and research on media, environment, and energy.

Ion Bogdan Vasi,  University of Iowa 
John Johnson, Harmony Institute
Hui Fen Tan, Cornell University 


Monday, 1 Dec 2014

Birthe Soppe, SCANCOR Postdoctoral Fellow

From food for thought to moral market: The role of social movements in institutionalizing Fair Trade

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS Building, 520 Galvez Mall, Stanford CA 94305 (Room 123)

Much of the literature in institutional analysis has been concerned with questions of diffusion and the adoption of prevailing models and practices. Research on social movements, on the other hand, has largely paid attention to questions of institutional change, arguing that social movements are important forces that can unravel an existing field through mobilization efforts. Yet, the question of how an idea or practice promoted by social movements turns into institutionalized behavior and diffuses as mainstream economic practice is still poorly understood. This question, however, is an important one to address particularly in the context of the formation of moral markets. Many of these value-driven markets, including recycling, green energy, and organic food, have developed from movement-driven projects into conventional business practice and in so doing, they have become important sources of economic and social change, redefining consumption patterns and forging new ways to produce and distribute goods and services. Drawing on an in-depth, longitudinal case study of the birth and institutionalization of Fair Trade in Switzerland (1970-1997), I explore how the idea of Fair Trade has proceeded through different stages of institutionalization. Initially invented by movement activists to protest against the dominant political and economic order, the early advocates then positioned Fair Trade as an alternative to conventional business practice, before it emerged as an ethical product label in the mainstream marketplace. My findings suggest that social movement pioneers are important ‘value architects’ that planted the seeds for the creation of a new product category by imbuing fair trade products with social values, providing new valuation criteria, and lending products credibility. I also find that the practice promoted by the activists had unintended consequences for the movement itself. Instead of being coopted by incumbent firms, the fair trade pioneers paved the way for a group of less radical NGOs within the movement to shift the approach and migrate towards becoming mainstream entrepreneurs. Drawing on the value frame provided by the early activists, this group of NGOs created a market-oriented labeling initiative and urged incumbent companies to trade and sell fair trade goods. More broadly, this study seeks to contribute to the literatures on movement-driven markets, processes of valuation and institutionalization.