ARCS Conference People’s Choice Award

arcsI’m pleased to report that my working paper, co-authored with Dror Etzion (McGill University), on “An Exploratory Analysis of Cultural Vulnerability and Opportunity Exploitation in Marcellus Shale Drilling,” won the People’s Choice Award at the 2014 Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability (ARCS) Conference. Hosted by Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management, this year’s attendees selected three papers for the award from among the 39 papers presented.

The two other winners included:

  • A dynamic process model of contentious politics: Activist targeting and corporate receptivity to social challenges, by Mary-Hunter McDonnell (Georgetown), Brayden King (Kellogg), and Sarah Soule (Stanford)
  • Can firms pay less and get more…by doing good? Field experimental evidence of the effect of corporate social responsibility on employee salary requirements and performance, by Vanessa Burbano (UCLA)

ARCS is a consortium of member universities, including the University of California, Berkeley (Haas School of Business), the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA Anderson School of Management), Cornell University (Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management), Dartmouth University (Tuck School of Business), Duke University (Nicholas School of Environment), Erasmus University (Rotterdam School of Management), Harvard University (Harvard University Center for the Environment), Indiana University (Kelley School of Business), INSEAD (INSEAD Social Innovation Centre), the University of Michigan (Ross School of Business), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan School of Management), Northwestern University (Kellogg School of Management Ford Motor Company Center for Global Citizenship), the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton School Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership), the University of Virginia (Darden School of Business), Western University (Ivey School of Business) and Yale University (Yale Center for Business and the Environment).

Looking for Summer 2014 Interns

Hard to believe, but I am already looking for Summer 2014 Interns! I have posted multiple positions through the University of Alberta Research Experience program.

For international students, the application deadline is October 31, 2013. The internships run from approximately May 1, 2014 to August 30, 2014. Total compensation for the summer is $5,000. Undergraduate students from the following partner institutions are eligible:

  • Brazil: UNICAMP, Universidade de São Paulo, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro
  • China: Fudan Univeristy, Tsinghua Univeristy, Zhejiang University, East China Normal University (ECNU), Sichuan University, Huazhong University of Science and Technology
  • Germany: Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich, Technical University of Munich
  • Korea: Seoul National University
  • India: IIT Bombay, IIT Kharagpur, University of Hyderabad
  • Mexico: ITESM-Campus Guadalajara
  • Oceania: University of Western Australia, Auckland University
  • USA: Penn State, University of Wisconsin, University of Texas Austin

For Canadian students, the application deadline is December 31, 2013. The internships run from approximately May 1, 2014 to August 30, 2014. Total compensation for the summer is $6,000.

If you are interested, please apply to my postings — IDs 319, 320 and 321 — through the UARE website.

Values Work Update

It has been a little over four months since my paper with Linda Treviño and Raghu Garud on “Values Work: A Process Study of the Emergence and Performance of Organizational Values Practices” was published in the Academy of Management Journal.


This morning, SSRN notified me that it is once again a top download in the IRPN: Innovation & Social Psychology (Topic) All Papers category.

It has been among the Top 50 Most-Read AMJ Articles since being published: March (#5), April (#14), May (#36) and June (#39) 2013.

Are the Amish Getting Fracked?

According to an article in the New Republic, “The Amish Are Getting Fracked” by energy companies that exploit an Amish religious prohibition against lawsuits, especially companies involved in unconventional shale gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing.


Curious about these claims, I decided to do a bit of research. One of the books I read was The Amish by Donald B. Kraybill, Karen M. Johnson-Weiner, Steven M. Nolt (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013). In turns out that, indeed, the Amish refuse “to initiate litigation or use the law aggressively to defend themselves” because they “view such as coercion, which violates the nonresistant teachings of Jesus to love enemies and avoid retaliation”; in most Amish communities “transgression of this deeply held belief will trigger excommunication” (Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner, & Nolt, 2013: 353).

In addition to confirming this tidbit, I found The Amish to be extensively researched and beautifully written. It offers a rare blend of detailed academic scholarship coupled with a compelling human narrative. The overall organization of the book is excellent, with a total of 22 chapters (!) organized into five major sections: roots; cultural context; social organization; external ties; and the future. The text is rich in detail, nuance and sophistication. The authors somehow manage to be exhaustive without appearing to have done violence to their topic, subjects and setting.

Academic readers are sure to revel in the endnotes. As just one example, consider Chapter 7 on “Symbols and Identity.” The third paragraph (p. 116) notes: “Amish cultural norms prescribe how to act toward and think about moral objects–material items, ideas and activities. Like other societies, the Amish distinguish between desirable or ‘clean’ moral objects and forbidden or ‘dirty’ ones. Boundaries and labels distinguish between things that purify the community and things that pollute it…” Of course, this sounds (to me) like something Mary Douglas might have written, especially her work on Purity and Danger, but also Natural Symbols, Risk and Blame, etc. And neatly tucked away in the endnotes (p. 435, en 1) we find the following: “Our analysis of distinctions in a group’s moral order rests on the classic work of Bourdieu, Distinction; Douglas, Purity and Danger; Wuthnow et al., Cultural Analysis; and Wuthnow, Meaning and Moral Order.”

In sum, Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner and Nolt have offered us a highly readable and thoroughly engaging lens into The Amish, and in doing so offer readers an opportunity to reflect on themselves and their own cultural milieu. What’s more, academics from diverse backgrounds will also see themselves in this book — including anthropology, culture studies, ethnography, geography, history, political science, psychology, religious studies, sociology, and many more I am sure.

Developmental Workshop on Innovation for Societal Impact: A Process Perspective

I’m pleased to announce the details of a developmental workshop on Innovation for Societal Impact: A Process Perspective.

Northern Advanced Research Training Initiative (NARTI) Developmental Workshop on: INNOVATION FOR SOCIETAL IMPACT: A PROCESS PERSPECTIVE Professors: Raghu Garud, Joel Gehman, and Krsto Pandza Thursday, 26 September 2013, Leeds University Business School

The workshop will be held on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at the Leeds University Business School. The workshop faculty include Raghu Garud (Pennsylvania State University), Krsto Pandza (University of Leeds) and me (University of Alberta).

Advanced Ph.D. students and junior faculty will have an opportunity to present their research, network and exchange ideas, and to learn more about studying innovation and sustainability from a process perspective. The discussion will draw on:

  • Garud & Gehman. (2012). “Metatheoretical Perspectives on Sustainability Journeys: Evolutionary, Relational and Durational.” Research Policy
  • Garud, Tuertscher & Van de Ven. (2013). “Perspectives on Innovation Processes.” Academy of Management Annals.
  • Pandza & Ellwood. (2013). “Strategic and Ethical Foundations for Responsible Innovation.” Research Policy.

The deadline for registration is September 2, 2013. Applicants will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. Further details and registration instructions are available here.

Karl Weick: An Actor-Network Theorist?

It is probably too great a stretch to call Karl Weick an actor-network theorist.

But I was struck by the resonance between his latest Academy of Management Review paper on The Lost Bank: The Story of Washington Mutual, the Biggest Bank Failure in American History and some notable actor-network theory concepts.

For an organization to act, its knowledge must undergo two transformations: (1) it has to be textualized so that it becomes a unique representation of the otherwise multiply distributed understandings, and (2) it has to be voiced by someone who speaks on behalf of the network and its knowledge (Taylor & Van Every, 2000: 243)…

The intertwining of text and conversation turns circumstances into a situation that is comprehensible and that can then serve as a springboard for action. If you envision WaMu as a network of multiple, overlapping, loosely connected conversations, spread across time and distance, collectively, the network “knows” the bank is failing, but that understanding is more complicated than any one node can reproduce. The distributed organization literally does not know what it knows until macro actors articulate it. And therein lies a problem. Actors who speak on behalf of the distributed organization have conversations, but the texts neither persist nor spread (Weick, 2013: 320-321).

There are a number of connections suggested by this vignette. For instance, in Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society, Latour (1987: 227ff) introduces the concept of immutable mobiles, textualizations in Weick’s terms.

These are charts, tables, maps, figures: inscriptions of any kind that facilitate travel over time and space while retaining their form and shape. All are aimed at allowing the center to act at a distance (see also Law on “Actor Network Theory and Material Semiotics“). Importantly, immutable mobiles are also combinable. In this way, they have a tendency to become detached from their origins.

Although much has been made of the influence of Serres on Latour, as with moments of inversion, I cannot help but think the idea of immutable mobiles is already prefigured in Husserl. In fact, these two concepts themselves seem bound up with one another. Is it that immutable mobiles are constituted in moments of inversion?

Another obvious connection is to Callon and Latour’s (1981) paper on macro-actors. For them the macro-actor speaks for the assembled network. Weick seems to say as much, suggesting that WaMu’s failure may have been a failure of enrollment (see Callon 1986). For instance, Weick (2013: 32) describes WaMu’s chief risk officer “as an example of a macro actor unable to give voice to a larger set of wary conversations.”