Winter Quarter 2012

January 23

Mitchell Stevens, Stanford University

Ambivalent Internationals, or, How Academic Reproduction Reinforces Disciplinary Boundaries in the Social Sciences

Time and Location: 3:00 - 4:30 PM, CERAS 123

What holds disciplines together and makes them endure over time?  Analyzing interviews with department chairs of economics, political science, and sociology at major US research universities, we argue that the imperial character of disciplines, and senior scholars’ concerns about students’ career prospects within them, are key mechanisms of disciplinary boundary maintenance.  Because senior faculty are serious about building their fields and about positioning their graduates near the organizational centers of those fields, they tend to discourage boundary-crossing scholarship among all but their most ambitious and capable students.  Additionally, senior faculty in economics, political science, and sociology believe that the primacy of quantitative research in their own fields, and the training investment necessary to achieve competence in quantitative analysis, tend to preclude investment in other forms of methodological capacity that are required for scholarly work in other disciplines.

January 30

Co-Hosted with WTO: Denise Loyd, MIT

Is Two Always Better Than One? Understanding Reactions to Minority Duos in Work Groups

Time and Location: 12:00-1:30 PM, NANO 232

Research and theory on diversity in organizations has tended to consider how group dynamics are affected by proportional rather than incremental changes in group membership. In this talk I explore the dynamics in groups with minority duos (i.e., where exactly two members share a social category that is still in the minority within the group). Although conventional wisdom and some empirical evidence suggests that people think it will be better to be part of a minority duo than to be a solo in a group, in two experimental studies I explore the case of female duos and show that being part of a minority duo can present challenges for the members of the duo. One study demonstrated that men evaluated a woman more stereotypically when there were two women in the group than when there were one or three. Another study showed that men rated a woman in their group as contributing less leadership and having fewer skills when there were two women in the group than when there were one or three. I discuss the implications of these effects for managing diverse teams.

February 6

Abby Larson, University of California, Berkeley

Institutionalized Exuberance: Risk and Return in Systemic Financial Crisis

Time and Location: 3:00 - 4:30 PM, CERAS 123

Using in-depth interviews and ethnography conducted in the investment banking sector during the height of financial crisis (August 2008-January 2009), this talk addresses the question of why financial firms failed to protect themselves from the downside risks of mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations. Through an analysis of interviews with decision-makers central to the structured mortgage securities businesses in investment banks and rating agencies, the research presented here brings a new perspective to debates about financial crisis. Examining how actors justify and make sense of crisis, the analysis reveals a series of mechanisms through which actors experience powerful normative, cultural- cognitive, and coercive pressures in their institutional environments during the lead-up to crisis. In the face of these pressures, the data show that actors perceived the risks of non-participation in the bull market to outweigh the risks of continued participation – the unintended consequences of which being organizational failure and financial crisis. The article contributes a new perspective to sociological research on financial crisis that has focused on the sociology of knowledge, markets as politics, and shareholder value, and introduces a new institutional perspective for thinking about financial market outcomes. 

February 13

Co-Hosted with WTO: Marc Schneiberg, Reed College

Movements as Political Conditions for Diffusion: Anti-Corporate Movements and the Spread of Cooperative Forms in American Capitalism

Time and Location: 12:00-1:30 PM, Cubberley 114

Using time-series data on the evolution of cooperative forms in the early 20 th century US economy, this study analyzes the role of anti-corporate movements in the diffusion of controversial or contested organizational innovations. It finds that the Grange, a leading anti-corporate social movement, was a political condition for the diffusion of cooperative alternatives to corporations in American capitalism. Cooperatives evoked vigorous counter-mobilization and counter-attack by corporate forces, effectively suppressing the diffusion of cooperative forms. When the Grange was weak or absent, cooperative organization in states or sectors had weak or no effects on cooperative organization in other states or sectors. But when the Grange was present and increased in strength, it amplified and even made possible the diffusion of cooperative forms across states and industries. These findings shed new light on the contentious transactions between movements, corporations and non-governmental organizations though and outside the state, expanding existing work on the trajectories, tactics and organizational effects of anti-corporate movements. 

February 27

Julie Battilana, Harvard Business School

Combining Social Welfare and Market Logics: Understanding the Determinants of Social Performance in Socioeconomic Hybrid Organizations

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS 123

Socioeconomic hybrid organizations combine the social welfare and market logics: they pursue a social mission but they rely on commercial activities to generate revenues necessary to sustain their operations. Although they have been identified as a promising way of organizing, we do not know how they can succeed at achieving their social mission while facing different, and potentially conflicting, demands imposed by the logics they combine. We address this gap by exploring the factors that influence the level of social performance in socioeconomic hybrids. We argue that investment in the social mission is positively associated with higher social performance in these organizations. We further argue that social imprinting (i.e., the early emphasis put by the founding team on the accomplishment of the organization’s social mission) and organizational productivity both enhance the positive impact of investment in the social mission. The results, based on a panel of social integration enterprises operating in France between 2003 and 2007, are congruent with our predictions. This paper suggests that socioeconomic hybrids can leverage the synergies between the logics they combine and points out the conditions under which they can do so.

March 5

Co-Hosted with Sociology Department: Jerry Jacobs, University of Pennsylvania

Silos, Networks and Interdisciplinarity: Case Studies of the Reception of Educational Research, New Peer-Reviewed Journals and Interdisciplinary Academic Programs

Time and Location: 12:00-1:30 PM, Building 120, Rm 101B

In recent years, there has been considerable discussion of, and movement toward, a more interdisciplinary university. This presentation will focus on several related empirical studies of interdisciplinarity. An examination of the flow of ideas into and out of the field of educational research suggests that the metaphor of isolated academic silos fails to reflect the volume and speed of exchange across fields. An analysis of newly-formed journals raises questions about whether the proliferation of interdisciplinary outlets facilitates or impedes scholarly communication. If time permits, the presentation will conclude with a brief foray into the rise, durability and implications of interdisciplinary academic programs.

March 12

Peter Ping Li, Copenhagen Business School

Exploring the Unique Roles of Trust and Play in Private Creativity: From the Complexity-Ambiguity-Metaphor Link to the Trust-Play-Creativity Link

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS 123

I explore the Eastern philosophy of wisdom to balance with the orthodox Western philosophy of science toward a geocentric integration of both the West and the East at the most fundamental level. In particular, the unique Eastern epistemological frame of Yin-Yang Balancing has the unique potential to reframe ambiguity from a problem (inconsistency) to a solution (completeness). Built upon the Eastern philosophy of wisdom, I propose a process model for the link between trust and creativity, especially in a private context rather than the typical public context. This model highlights the essence of trust as a leap of faith to bridge the unknown with the known, uncertainty with certainty, and ambiguity with clarity via the mechanisms of psychological relaxation and cognitive improvisation to mediate between trust, play, and creativity. The tentative sketch of the Eastern philosophy of wisdom and its application to the trust-play-creativity link are the two contributions of this study. The central theme is that the Eastern philosophy of wisdom is primarily concerned with the creation of novel knowledge as open-ended and open-minded exploration via trust and play, while the Western philosophy of science is primarily concerned with the evaluation of the extant knowledge as close-ended and close-minded exploitation via control and routine.

March 19

Markku Maula, Aalto University

Relational Embeddedness, Institutional Distance, and Partner Selection Decisions Across Borders

Time and Location: 3:00 - 4:30 PM, CERAS 123

We examine the neglected question concerning how varying institutional distance between potential partners in different countries influences the role of relational embeddedness in cross-border partner selection decisions. We develop an integrative perspective where the institutional context in which partner selection decisions occur defines boundary conditions to the relational embeddedness approach to partner selection decisions. We construct a unique, novel data set from various sources, comprising 1021 venture capital investments in 12 European countries in which 391 different local venture capital investors invited 302 different foreign investors from 14 European countries. Adopting a case-control analytical approach we find that the effect of relational embeddedness on partner selection is positively moderated by the regulatory, cognitive, and normative distance between the institutions in which the local and foreign partners operate.