Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Kate Kellogg, MIT
-Special Seminar co-sponsored by Sociology at Stanford-

Subordinate Activation and Implementing Reform Among Professionals in Two U.S. Hospitals


Time and Location: 12:00-1:15pm, Graduate School of Business Class of 1968 building, room C105

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

Prior research on healthcare, social movements, and organizations has shown that implementing reform among professionals is difficult when the reform challenges professionals’ specialized expertise, autonomy, individual responsibility and engagement in complex work. This two-and-a half year ethnographic study of the implementation of PCMH (Patient-Centered Medical Home) reform in the primary care departments in two US hospitals examines how managers can bring about such change in professional practice. In this study, managers in both hospitals attempted to implement the same change in professional practice among doctors, had the same enabling contextual pressures for change, worked under the same organizational and reimbursement structure, and had the same micro contextual facilitators of change present within their organizations. But managers in one hospital successfully accomplished change in professional practice while those in the other did not. I demonstrate that managers can accomplish change using “subordinate activation tactics”—in which managers first provide subordinate semiprofessionals with empowerment that gives them the motivation to activate their structural position vis-à-vis the targeted professionals on behalf of managers and next provide them with positional tools to use in their daily work to minimize the targeted professionals’ concerns about the threats associated with change.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Mike Zapp, University of Luxembourg

Institutional Isomorphism in Higher Education Worldwide: A Large-N Cross-Sectional Analysis

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

Large-N cross-national analyses charting institutional change in higher education organizations (HEOs) represent a considerable blind spot in the literature, which is divided over questions of isomorphism versus differentiation. While some studies stress cross-national convergence in HE policy, enrolment and curriculum, the rise of private HE is usually associated with growing diversification and specialization. National and small-N studies paint a mixed picture, mainly due to varying dependent variables. Drawing on the most comprehensive data set on public and private HE organizations available, the World Higher Education Database, covering N=16,282 HEOs from 191 countries, this paper investigates institutional isomorphism across countries, sectors (public, private non-profit, private for-profit), cohorts (1960s, 1990s and 2000s) and different competitive HE environments. Using multi-level regression models, we first examine several organizational variables on functional differentiation, accreditation, curriculum and internationality to explore ideas of isomorphism vs differentiation. Data suggests that these properties vary across cohorts and by size, yet little across sectors, countries and competitive environments. Second, we test the effect of regulative (accreditation) and normative (IAU membership) institutional pressures versus strong competition on organizational properties such as curricular structure and content as well as student services. Results indicate strong predictive power of institutional variables. Given the lack of a genuinely organizational perspective in the study of HE, we explore various theories of organizations such as resource dependence, population ecology and neoinstitutionalism. We conclude by stressing the analytical thrust of sociological neoinstitutionalism in explaining the blurring boundaries and isomorphism in global HE.  

Monday, January 29, 2018

Heinz-Dieter Meyer, School of Education, University at Albany (SUNY)

Institutional Design and Leadership in Higher Education: From Wilhelm v. Humboldt to James March and Back

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

Following the argument of “The Design of the University—German, American, and ‘World Class’” (Meyer 2017), the talk will discuss how institutional design facilitates or obstructs the process of institutional leadership and learning, given the university’s complex and conflicting purposes. The main argument is that the much envied design of the American university evolved in a process of institutional learning integrating the design features of Adam Smith’s market model and of W.v. Humboldt’s community of scholar model, thereby putting the university for the first time on a foundation of sustainable (but not invulnerable) self-government.
In part two of the talk I will offer some observations on the similarities between Humboldt’s and James March’s view of higher education leadership on the one hand and their contrast to today’s dominant policy discourse on the other. Humboldt’s idea of leadership as seizing the kairos (the moment “when thought and reality freely merge one into the other”) and James March’s idea of leading the university as an organized anarchy both focus on the university as an emergent order and on its potential of incremental self-improvement. Both stand in contrast with current (“world class”) discourse that view the university as a managed order that must be goaded and jolted towards “excellence” through external agency.
I’ll close by offering reflections on the merits and possible directions of using an institutional design lens to help sustain the university as a “temple of education” (March).

Monday, February 5, 2018

Paolo Parigi, AirBnb

The Engineering of Trust in Online Interactions

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

To provide social exchange on a global level, sharing-economy companies leverage interpersonal trust between their members on a scale unimaginable even a few years ago. A challenge to this mission is the presence of social biases among a large heterogeneous and independent population of users, a factor that hinders the growth of these services. We investigate whether and to what extent a sharing-economy platform can design artificially engineered features, such as reputation systems, to override people’s natural tendency to base judgments of trustworthiness on social biases. We focus on the common tendency to trust others who are similar (i.e., homophily) as a source of bias. We test this argument through an online experiment with 8,906 users of Airbnb, a leading hospitality company in the sharing economy. The experiment is based on an interpersonal investment game, in which we vary the characteristics of recipients to study trust through the interplay between homophily and reputation. Our findings show that reputation systems can significantly increase the trust between dissimilar users and that risk aversion has an inverse relationship with trust given high reputation. We also present evidence that our experimental findings are confirmed by analyses of 1 million actual hospitality interactions among users of Airbnb.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Maryellen Schaub, Penn State College of Education

The Globalized “Whole Child”: Cultural Understandings of Children and Childhood in Multilateral Aid Development Policy, 1946–2010

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

Current global conceptions of childhood dictate that all children are entitled to a childhood that provides protection, preparation, and child development for the whole child. We analyze 65 years of policy documents fromthe influential multilateral agency UNICEF focusing on how cultural ideas have changed over time and how they have blended into the contemporary idea of the child and childhood that is distinctly different from the period immediately following World War II. The results present a rich description of these trends including the greater elaboration of educational development during childhood, movement from an image of the simple unidimensional child to greater complexity and multiple dimensions, the whole child, and a shift away fromimagining children as creations of particular local cultural contexts to a global, one-size-fits-all child with universal requirements and rights to human development, the globalized whole child.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Julie Posselt, Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California

Trust Networks: A New Perspective on Pedigree and the Ambiguities of Admissions Decisions

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

Trust is a powerful form of social capital, one that facilitates willingness to make investments in the absence of complete information. In this talk I present ethnographic research about the individual and institutional trust networks that facilitate admissions decisions in top-ranked PhD programs in pure disciplines, and which explain revealed preferences for applicants with elite academic backgrounds. I find that to cut through ambiguities inherent in admissions decision making, faculty make proxy judgments of admissibility rooted in perceptions of trust and distrust. They lean upon perceptions of trust in the quality of undergraduate institution (i.e., because the rigor of a given student’s training may be unknown), relationships with and the reputation of recommendation letter writers (i.e., because the sincerity of praise is often unclear), and their judgments of program alumni with similar characteristics (i.e., due to availability bias). These micro-level interactions between professors and graduate school applicants reflect and reinforce macro-level structural inequalities in higher education; achieving more equitable doctoral enrollments will thus require broadening trust networks beyond familiar, feeder institutions and paying greater attention to recruitment in general. Yet I argue that we need not impugn the role of trust, which is inherent to most social transactions. Rather, as with other aspects of professional judgment, admissions decision makers should be self-critical about their instincts to trust. As one participant professor summed up the ubiquitous challenge of admissions, “You just never know who the exciting student is going to be.”

Monday, March 5, 2018

Ann Hironaka, Sociology, University of California, Irvine

Learning from War: Ambiguity and Hubris

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

Inter-state war presents a curious paradox.  War is arguably the most carefully planned endeavor that states pursue yet the pages of military history are filled with disasters and blunders of monumental proportions.  Organizational theorists such as James March offer a simple resolution to the puzzle. States make egregious errors because the sheer complexity of military affairs overwhelms the cognitive capacity of even the most skilled military planners.  Yet this answer simply begs the further question: Why do states march forward so confidently, if war is so complex and fraught with risk?  Prof. Hironaka's recent book "Tokens of Power:  Rethinking War" (Cambridge University Press, 2017) develops a constructivist response to this question, arguing that social consensus regarding military "best practices" emerges in the international community, papering over the overwhelming ambiguity of warfare and encouraging states to confidently embark on hapless military ventures.

Monday, March 12, 2018

John Meyer, Stanford University, Department of Sociology

Rising Illiberalism in World Society

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

This talk will comment on global indicators of rising illiberalism in economic, political, social, and cultural arenas, and some national-level organizational consequences. The corresponding paper (described below) on attacks on the university provides an example.

Corresponding paper: "Illiberal Reactions to the University in the 21st Century"

The university as an institution expanded dramatically and became worldwide in the period after World War II, linked to the ascendance of liberal and later neoliberal cultural models of society.  With the weakening of the legitimacy of these models, in recent years, there has been an increase in attacks on and controls over the centrality of the university.  We describe instances of enrollment decline, budgetary contraction, increased political controls, and generalized attacks on education.  We suggest that these will be most common in countries that are least integrated into the established liberal order and in countries affiliated with international organizations that espouse alternative or illiberal discourses.  We illustrate these points with several case examples, and also with country-level panel regression models in the contemporary period.  The cases provide diverse examples of various assaults on higher education, usually rooted in alternatives or reactions to conventional liberal discourses.  We further show that countries linked to organizations espousing illiberal discourses tend to have lower tertiary enrollments and funding, enrollment tends to shift toward less-controversial fields like engineering and agriculture, and countries experience higher levels of direct attacks against schools and universities.