Moral Accounting by Organizations

Our article in the Journal of Management InquiryMoral Accounting by Organizations: A Process Study of the U.S. Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission — was published today. The article was part of a special issue on corruption guest edited by Stelios Zyglidopoulos, Paul Hirsch, Pablo Martin de Holan, and Nelson Phillips. Co-authored with two fellow Penn State alumni, Chad Murphy and Shubha Patvardhan, in the article we take an inductive approach to understanding the aftermath of crises, namely, the process by which organizations come to be viewed as morally accountable (or not) for such events.  Continue reading

Social License to Operate: Legitimacy by Another Name

My article — Social License to Operate: Legitimacy by Another Name? — was published in Canadian Public Administration today. Co-authored with Lianne M. Lefsrud (University of Alberta) and Stewart Fast (University of Ottawa), the article draws in part on research I originally prepared for a report by the Canadian Network for Energy Policy Research and Analysis entitled: “Energy Projects, Social License, Public Acceptance and Regulatory Systems in Canada: A White Paper.”

Finding Theory-Method Fit: A Comparison of Three Qualitative Approaches to Theory Building

Today, our forthcoming Journal of Management Inquiry article — Finding Theory–Method Fit: A Comparison of Three Qualitative Approaches to Theory Building — was published online. Co-authored by Joel Gehman (University of Alberta), Vern L. Glaser (University of Alberta), Kathleen M. Eisenhardt (Stanford University), Denny Gioia (Pennsylvania State University, Ann Langley (HEC Montreal), and Kevin G. Corley (Arizona State University), the article provides a synthesized summary of a Showcase Symposium held at the 2016 Academy of Management Annual Meeting.

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How Institutions Matter!

Nice to find these waiting in my mailbox this morning. This double volume presents a collection of 23 papers on how institutions matter to socio-economic life. The papers delve deeply into the practical impact an institutional approach enables, as well as how such research has the potential to influence policies relevant to critical institutional changes unfolding in the world today. In Volume 48A, the focus is on the micro foundations of institutional impacts. In Volume 48B, the focus is on the macro consequences of institutional arrangements. Our introduction provides an overview to the two volumes, identifies points of contact between the papers, and briefly summarizes each contribution. We close by noting avenues for future research on how institutions matter. Overall, the volumes provide a cross-section of cutting edge institutional thought and empirical research, highlighting a variety of fruitful directions for knowledge accumulation and development.

Gehman, J., Lounsbury, M. & Greenwood, R. (eds). 2017. How Institutions Matter! Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Volume 48A. ISBN 978-1-78635-430-3.

Gehman, J., Lounsbury, M. & Greenwood, R. (eds). 2017. How Institutions Matter! Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Volume 48B. ISBN 978-1-78635-432-7.

Hidden Badge of Honor

Today, our forthcoming Academy of Management Journal article — Hidden Badge of Honor: How Contextual Distinctiveness Affects Category Promotion Among Certified B Corporations — was published online.

Co-authored with Matthew Grimes (Indiana University), the research asks: Why would an organization pursue membership in an organizational category, yet forego opportunities to subsequently promote that membership? Drawing on prior research, we develop a theoretical model that distinguishes between basic and subordinate categories and highlights how organizations may differ in their promotion of the same subordinate category. We hypothesize that a subordinate category’s contextual distinctiveness within different basic categories increases promotion, and that these effects are amplified in relatively larger subordinate category peer groups. To test our hypotheses, we developed a proprietary web-based software toolset, CULTR, and gathered data regarding B Corporations’ web-based promotion of their certification. We supplemented our statistical analysis with interviews of Certified B Corporation executives and entrepreneurs. Our findings challenge prior assumptions about the causes of promotional forbearance, while extending our understanding of category distinctiveness within contexts as well as sources of intra-category variation.

2014 Peoples Choice Award

On May 9, my paper with Dror Etzion — An Exploratory Analysis of Cultural Vulnerability and Opportunity Exploitation in Marcellus Shale Drilling — won the 2014 Peoples Choice Award from the Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability (ARCS). This year’s conference was hosted at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management from May 7-9, 2014.

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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.

AMJ Values Work Paper Among Most Read

Our paper on “Values Work” was published in the February issue of the Academy of Management Journal. The paper also can be downloaded for free from SSRN. According to the AMJ website the paper was the #5 most-read paper during March 2013. The introduction to the special issue was ranked #2.


According to ISI’s Journal Citation Reports, the Academy of Management Journal had a 1-year impact factor of 5.608 in 2011, making it the highest rated empirical research journal out of 166 “management” journals, and 113 “business” journals.

“Values Work” also was one of six papers featured in Volume 1, Issue 1 of the University of Alberta School of Business Research Paper Series, edited by Michael Lounsbury.

The final citation is: Gehman, J., Treviño, L.K., & Garud, R. 2013. Values Work: A Process Study of the Emergence and Performance of Organizational Values Practices. Academy of Management Journal, 56: 84-112.