Monday, October 2, 2017

David Pedulla, Department of Sociology, Stanford University

How Race and Unemployment Shape Labor Market Opportunities: Additive, Amplified, or Muted Effects?

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

The manner in which social categories combine to produce inequality lies at the heart of scholarship on social stratification. To date, scholars have largely pointed to two primary ways that negatively stereotyped categories may aggregate: 1) additive effects, whereby one category has similar consequences across the other category, and 2) amplified congruence, whereby a secondary category exacerbates the negative effects of the first category. This article develops an alternative potential aggregation pattern – muted congruence – which posits that when individuals evaluate others that occupy multiple social positions about which stereotypes are highly congruent, such as being black and being unemployed, the additional category membership will have limited influence over the ultimate evaluation. Using evidence from a field experiment, where fictitious applications were submitted to real job openings, I examine which aggregation pattern most accurately reflects how race and unemployment shape actual hiring decisions. In line with predictions from the “muted congruence” perspective, the findings indicate that racial discrimination is prominent, but that there are limited additional negative effects of unemployment for African American workers. I conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for understanding the aggregation of social categories in the production of inequality.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Tim Weiss, Fellow, Center for Work, Technology & Organization (WTO), Stanford

Globalization in Action: Templates, Tensions and Strategies of Action in Kenyan Technology Entrepreneurship

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

The proliferation of seemingly universal templates for economic action is a cultural dimension of economic globalization. One example of such a template is technology entrepreneurship, which is increasingly presented as a recipe for economic development and national competitiveness. But what does it mean to perform technology entrepreneurship? The paper develops a micro-phenomenological answer to this question. The case of the nascent information and communications technology (ICT) sector in Nairobi, Kenya, shows how participants in the sector have constructed contrasting templates of entrepreneurship that are coded as alternatively “local” and “global.” We use ethnographic and semiotic methods to understand the content of these templates and the strategies of action that participants use to manage tensions between the template prescriptions. Each strategy gives rise to unintended consequences that prevent the full resolution of the tensions and thus prompt subsequent action. As a result we develop a dynamic process model of local changes in response to globalization that captures the ongoing and generative dimension of diffusion and translation processes.

Monday, October 30, 2017

David Obstfeld, California State University-Fullerton

Getting New Things Done: Networks, Brokerage, and the Assembly of Innovative Action

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

This talk presents the core ideas from my new book with Stanford University Press: "Getting New Things Done: Networks, Brokerage, and the Assembly of Innovative Action."  Mobilizing people to pursue action in the pursuit of innovation depends critically on the effective orchestration of social networks and knowledge sharing.  This orchestration is vital to the pursuit of innovation, especially in a world increasingly reliant on collaborative projects that assemble actors with diverse interests, abilities, and knowledge. In the talk, I offer a conceptual framework along with original ethnographic data from an automotive design context for conceptualizing how social network and knowledge processes combine to influence success in both routine and non-routine innovation.  I integrate recent work to propose a theory of social skill with implications at the micro-, organizational-, and industry levels.  I will also discuss a new research direction which applies the above theoretical framework to identifying student behaviors and institutional practices associated with underrepresented minority college student success and career advancement.  

Monday, November 6, 2017

Klaus Weber, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

Constructing the future (im)perfect: Geo-engineering solutions to climate change

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

Economic sociologists and organization theorists have recently revisited the role of imaginaries and fictionality in economic and social action (e.g., Beckert, 2013, 2016). Images of the future are central to the “projective agency” to imagine alternative possibilities beyond rational extrapolation and risk assessments (Emirbayer & Mische, 1998), especially for dealing with distant and large scale collective action problems. We investigate how futures are constructed and made real the context of geo-engineering, a set of proposed large-scale technological interventions into the earth’s atmospheric, oceanic, and terrestrial systems that are put forth as solutions to the threat of global climate change. Our data combines a corpus of news reports with interviews and contextual information. We identify different forms of projecting future states used by scientists, stakeholders and policy makers, and examine their role in lending reality to imaginaries and for mobilizing action in support of, or in opposition to, the realization of such projections. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Julia DiBenigno, Yale School of Management

Rapid Relationality: How Peripheral Experts Develop Influential Relationships with Line Managers

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

Organizations often must hire outside professionals for their expertise and legitimacy to accomplish important organizational goals, including sustainability officers, cyber security professionals, and diversity officers, among others. Yet these experts typically belong to peripheral functions of the organization and lack formal authority over line managers in core functions. Given this power asymmetry, line managers may resist efforts to elicit cooperation from them with relative impunity. How and when can low-power experts in peripheral roles elicit cooperation from higher-power line managers? In this paper, I analyze relational histories of 56 peripheral expert-line manager dyads from a 30-month ethnographic field study of experts—in this case U.S. Army mental health professionals—and the line managers over whom they lacked authority—the direct commanders of the soldiers they treated. Soldiers could not fully benefit from mental health services when their commanders overrode their providers’ recommendations. Despite their low-power and status as outsiders, many providers succeeded at developing influential relationships with commanders by using ethnographic access tactics through a process I call “rapid relationality.” My analysis suggests it is not only what peripheral experts do to elicit cooperation from line managers, but also when and how quickly they do it that matters.  

Monday, November 27, 2017

Kristiina Herold, SCANCOR Postdoctoral Scholar, Stanford University

Jilted Outsiders: Psychological Effects of Organizational Secrecy

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

This research investigates the relationship between organizational secrecy and motivational and affective responses, including enjoyment, liking, and willingness to work. Management scholars have studied the effects of secrecy on firms, often taking the view of the insiders (the ones "in the know") but have given less attention to the possible downsides for individuals on the outside. Using incentive salience theory, commodity theory, and the elaboration likelihood model to provide a strong theoretical framework, this research argues that the outsiders experience a jilt, producing a condition in which motivational and affective outcomes are not simply affected individually but are driven in opposite directions. Thus, individuals may be motivated toward a certain target, but they may, at the same time, like it less. Additionally, we propose that the effect will occur not only in relation to the concealed information but will extend toward the concealing actor and the organization. Finally, these effects are suggested to accentuate for those who are highly motivated to process issue-relevant information, resulting in a potentially precarious situation for the organization.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Emilio Castilla, MIT
-Special Seminar co-sponsored by Sociology at Stanford-

Best in Class: The Returns on Application Endorsement in Higher Education


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

Scholars have long suggested that well-connected applicants are advantaged during hiring into organizations. Less studied, however, is why key organizational decision makers may favor recommended candidates during applicant screening. We begin to address this gap by investigating whether and why application endorsements―an understudied informal practice whereby certain individuals (i.e., endorsers) advocate for particular applicants―affect organizational selection outcomes. Through the analysis of the population of applicants to a full-time MBA program over a seven-year period, we find that even after controlling for individual qualifications and competencies, endorsed applicants are substantially advantaged over non-endorsed applicants in admissions interview and offer decisions. In seeking to explain this advantage, we identify, develop and empirically test key theoretical explanations pertaining to the potential returns on application endorsements for the organization. We conclude by discussing the implications of our study for understanding the impact of application endorsements on labor and educational markets.