Monday, October 3, 2016

Patricia Bromley, Stanford Graduate School of Education

Social Evaluations, Managers, and the Rise of Win-Win Discourse in U.S. Firms, 1960-2010

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

Corporations are increasingly pressured not only to generate financial value for shareholders, but also social value for stakeholders such as consumers, activists, and regulators. Despite the historical tension between social and economic goals, firms increasingly depict the diverse goals of multiple stakeholders as synergistic. Analyzing 300 annual reports from a sample of 80 large U.S. public firms between 1960 and 2010, we find the rise of discourse emphasizing a “win-win” conception of blended social and economic value, which includes both the social benefits of economic activities and economic gains from social responsibility. In a departure from Weber’s critique of rationalization as a dehumanizing iron cage, we argue that formal evaluations and managerial administration serve to partly tame narratives of instrumental economic rationality. In line with this argument, we find evidence that win-win discourse is fueled by firms’ attentiveness to social evaluations – rankings, ratings and standards in social domains. In addition, firms with more management use more win-win discourse, suggesting managers are important carriers of this idea. The findings contribute to organizational theory and the sociology of value by highlighting the contexts in which firms integrate social responsibility discourse into discussions of how to create profit.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Tom Christensen, University of Oslo

Academic Autonomy and Freedom Under Pressure: Severely Limited, or Still Alive and Kicking?

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

Co-author: Joel D. Aberbach, UCLA

Academic freedom and the autonomy of academic institutions (their freedom from outside interference) are core values in contemporary academic life.  This paper outlines changes that have taken place in the last few decades that impact academic freedom and autonomy.  These include increasing catering by universities to stake-holders in the environment, increasing professionalization of university administrations, an evolving pattern of broadening authority over internal university decision-making, and an increasing attention to student (i.e., customer) needs.  Two case studies -- one of recent decisions in a US university system and the other of a case in Norway -- illustrate the theoretical points in the paper and point to the need to know a lot more about academic autonomy and academic freedom, especially in an environment of changing management practices and scarce resource bases for many institutions.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Herman Stål, Umeå University

A decoupling perspective upon Circular Business Model implementation: illustrations from Swedish apparel

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

co-author: Hervé Corvellec, Lund University

Researchers currently rely on functional arguments to explain recurrent observations of inadequate implementation of circular business models. However this paper argues that institutional theory better explains these patterns. More precisely, we utilize decoupling as our frame in analyzing seven case studies of circular business model implementation in Swedish apparel, where firms have engaged themselves with second-hand clothes in various ways. Drawing on our cases, we argue that firms can resist integrating new activities, thereby buffering core value creation, when institutional environments are emerging, rather than fully rationalized. The latter characteristic also enables firms to, through their implementation activities, proactively shape these environments. The paper thereby develops new understandings regarding decoupling mechanisms, contributing to recent debate regarding the scope and shape of contemporary decoupling, as well as providing new explanations of patterns of circular business model implementation.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Tua Bjorklund, Aalto University

Translating new venture ideas into operations – linking co-evolvement and effectuation

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

New ventures face a perilous childhood with high failure rates. They act within a challenging landscape of needing to simultaneously develop both their first offering and the operations of the venture itself. In contrast to traditional opportunity discovery and planning-centric perspectives, two streams of research have been gaining traction as alternative explanations to this development-intensive period: effectuation within entrepreneurship research, and framing within design research. Both stem from studies of expertise. Effectuation research has shown expert entrepreneurs to frequently act based on a logic of influencing rather than predicting the future – creating, rather than discovering, opportunities to pursue. Framing, on the other hand, plays a large role in design expertise, as the problem and solution co-evolve – some problem frames are more conductive than others for arriving at successful solutions. Combining these two streams of research is explored within a longitudinal interview-based study of the entrepreneur teams of four new Finnish ventures.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Yuliya Snihur, Toulouse Business School

An Identity-Based Perspective on Firm Strategic Adaptation to Radical Business Model Innovation

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

We elaborate on theory about firm strategic adaptation to radical business model innovation (BMI) by examining incumbent firm reactions to a radical BMI by Amazon in the bookselling industry. We adopt a longitudinal multiple case study approach, leveraging firm, CEO, and industry-generated archival data over the 1996-2014 time period. Our findings suggest that differences in how firms manage multiple organizational identity subdimensions and super-ordinate organizational identity properties of plasticity and temporal orientation lead to distinct patterns of incumbent responses. We contribute to the literatures on strategic adaptation and organizational identity and highlight the identity underpinnings of adaptive processes associated with radical BMI.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Rune Lines, NHH Norwegian School of Economics

A behavioral agency explanation of managerial effort level and effort alignment: Monetary compensation versus motivational potential of the managerial job

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

Co-authors: Olav Kvitastein, Bergen University College, Kjell Grønhaug, NHH Norwegian School of Economics, & Berit Sund, NHH Norwegian School of Economics

Classical agency theory and associated practice focus almost exclusively on extrinsic motivation and the design of monetary incentives for explaining managerial effort levels and effort alignment. In this article, we challenge the realism and usefulness of this assumption for the purpose of corporate governance. Using data from a large-scale survey of Norwegian managers, we show that monetary incentives only explain a small amount of variance in extrinsic motivation, effort levels and effort alignment. The motivational potential of the managers’ jobs on the other hand explain a substantial amount of variance in intrinsic motivation and effort levels. We find no evidence that the presence of extrinsic incentives “crowds out” intrinsic motivation. However, we find a hitherto undiscovered crowding effect, i.e. that intrinsic motivation appear to crowd out extrinsic motivation.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Frederick F. Wherry, Yale University
-Special Seminar co-sponsored by Sociology at Stanford-

Relational Tradeoffs for the Credit Constrained


Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, *Barnum Hub, 505 Lasuen Mall, Stanford CA 94305*

Sociology at Stanford is community of sociological scholars on the Sanford campus comprised of members from the Stanford Sociology Department, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and SCANCOR

Why do struggling individuals make their lives even harder through their spending practices? And how do they understand, keep track of, and act on their budgeting priorities? This article revises some of the current psychological explanations for how individuals account for their money by incorporating the role of relationships and meaning systems into these informal accounting systems. Using the case of an innovative social program called Lending Circles at the Mission Asset Fund where previously “invisible” behaviors indicating a person’s credit worthiness are brought out of the shadows, we present data on the subjective experiences of the people of color using this new program to build their credit histories, including 56 client interviews and three years of periodic direct observations of staff and clients navigating relationship concerns, life-stage transitions, and meaningful collective events. We show individuals engaged in relational tradeoffs as they negotiate the need to save face by protecting their credit scores and the need satisfy the ritual and interpersonal demands of their relational environments. In these relational tradeoffs, individuals were able to improve their credit positions with assistance from the Mission Asset Fund, yet these gains in the credit score sometimes generated conflict with the very family members benefitting from the individual’s improved credit score. The paper is co-authored with the project’s co-PIs Kristin S. Seefelt (Michigan) and Anthony S. Alvarez (Cal State Fullerton). The research assistant for the project was Marlene Orozco (Stanford). And funding for the project came from The Behavioral Economics Program at the Russell Sage Foundation and the JP Morgan Chase Foundation.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Dan McFarland, Stanford Graduate School of Education

Writing into Relationships

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

Social network changes are often accomplished by communicative efforts. When communicated via writing, these efforts have several identifiable features. First, persons present their perception of a relational “scene” wherein they describe relational events and the perceived interpersonal stances being taken by participants. Second, these perceived footings are presented in relation to one another so as to form a larger structure of association. Every projected stance and identity is then interpreted in light of this definition of the relational situation. Third, writers frequently target points of relational uncertainty within these accounts. Uncertainties are typically expressed as interpersonal footings that have content ambiguity, ambivalent enactment, ambage between intentions and actions, or problematic social contingencies like relational imbalance. Last, actors strategically project relational situations and present points of relational uncertainty in an effort to garner desired responses from others. Their accounts and points of uncertainty imply redefined relationships and identities they value and routes for their accomplishment. In this manner, expressions of relational uncertainty are often (not always) a communicative means to guiding others’ responses so as to accomplish desired relational and network changes. To illustrate communicative efforts of relational change, this article uses a sample of written relational communications among adolescents, and draws from it exemplary texts that exhibit distinct communicative efforts at relationship formation, dissolution, and translation. These efforts are observed in both single written texts and successive exchanges across authors.