Developing a Research Agenda to Advance Perspectives on Performativity

Developing a Research Agenda to Advance Perspectives on Performativity
Friday, August 7, 2015 from 3:15 PM – 5:15 PM
Sponsored by OMT, TIM, SAP, CMS

This PDW offers participants an opportunity to develop in-depth exposure to current research developing theories of performativity that highlight the constitutive effects of theorization. Research on performativity has been conducted from a variety of perspectives, including organization theory, strategy, and technology studies.

Part 1: The first part of this PDW (3:15-4:15) is open to all participants. In the first part of the PDW, three senior scholars will present a perspective on performativity.

  • Raghu Garud (Pennsylvania State U.) will describe how the notion of performativity applies to management thought;
  • Jean-Pascal Gond and Laure Cabantous (both of Cass Business School, City U. London) will discuss the performativity of strategic knowledge; and
  • Wanda Orlikowski (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) will explore the generative possibilities a performativity perspective offers to our understanding of technology in organizations.

Part 2: In the second part of the PDW, we offer participants the opportunity to submit research proposals and receive feedback in a roundtable format. In addition to the presenters named above, Susan Scott and Daniel Beunza (both of the London School of Economics) will participate as roundtable discussion leaders.

To participate in the second part of the PDW, send a 1500 word research proposal or extended abstract to the PDW organizers: Joel Gehman ( and Vern Glaser ( The submission deadline is July 15, 2015.

Once you submit your proposal we will provide you with a code to register for Part 2 of the PDW at

Best, Joel and Vern

SONGS Meets the Market

San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) is an inoperative nuclear power plant on the Pacific coast of the United States, near San Diego, California. The plant was closed in June 2013 and is in the early stages of being decommissioned. According to Think Progress, the decommissioning process will go on for at least two decades, and the radioactive waste will be stored onsite for the foreseeable future.

Southern California Edison owns 78.2% of the plant; San Diego Gas & Electric Company 20%; and the City of Riverside Utilities Department 1.8%. The plant’s first unit, Unit 1, operated from 1968 to 1992. Unit 2 was started in 1983 and Unit 3 started in 1984. Units 2 and 3 underwent upgrades in 2009 and 2010 that were intended to last 20 years. However, both reactors had to be shut down in January 2012 due to premature wear found on over 3,000 tubes in replacement steam generators that had been installed in 2010 and 2011.

SCE announced on June 7, 2013 that it would “permanently retire” Unit 2 and Unit 3, citing “continuing uncertainty about when or if SONGS might return to service” and noting that ongoing regulatory and “administrative processes and appeals” would likely cause any tentative restart plans to be delayed for “more than a year.”

Some 100,000 people live within ten miles of SONGS and nearly nine million within 50 miles. In an effort “to keep residents engaged in the decommissioning process” Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric Company recently organized a Community Engagement Panel. The first meeting was held in late March, and attended by around 300 people. David Victor, director of the University of California San Diego Laboratory on International Law and Regulation, chaired the panel “because of his proven leadership abilities and experience bringing together diverse groups of stakeholders.”

At first blush, this account suggests a real effort is being made to cultivate a public space for fostering discussion and debate among interested social groups. This idea resonates with the notion of “hybrid forums” proposed by Callon and colleagues as a solution to the governance of complex socio-technical issues (e.g., Callon et al., 2009; Callon and Rabeharisoa, 2003). Forums, “because they are open spaces where groups can come together to discuss technical options involving the collective,” and hybrid, “because the groups involved and the spokespersons claiming to represent them are heterogeneous, including experts, politicians, technicians and laypersons who consider themselves involved. They are also hybrid because the questions and problems taken up are addressed at different levels in a variety of domains, from ethics to economic” (Callon et al., 2009, p. 18).

Some of my work has explored and theorized the potential role of hybrid forums. For example, in “Boundaries, Breaches, and Bridges: The Case of Climategate,” we consider the possibility of hybrid forums in the context of climate science and concerns related to climate change. In “Metatheoretical Perspectives on Sustainability Journeys: Evolutionary, Relational and Durational,” we propose the possibility of hybrid forums as an approach to sustainability-related policy formulation and governance.

In addition to signalling a possibly interesting case study of hybrid forums in the making, there was another quote in the Think Progress that caught my eye, on a completely different topic. The quote comes from an earlier piece by Joe Romm, and has to do with the role of markets.

The countries where nuclear has dead-ended are market-based economies where the nuclear industry has simply been unable to deliver a competitive product.

I’ve been studying nuclear power for several years now. For instance, in “Categorization by Association: Nuclear Technology and Emission Free Electricity,” we studied the ongoing efforts to (re)categorize nuclear power from 1945 to 2010. More recently I have been studying the diverse and continuing responses to the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown by countries around the world. In the course of this work, one of the discourses that I have found really fascinating relates to the role of markets in nuclear power. Last fall, the topic even came up during class discussions with MBA students.

Some time ago, I blogged that “the preponderance of the evidence from both the US and the rest of the world suggests that heavy governmental subsidies, loan guarantees and/or liability exemptions — either explicitly or de facto — are essential to the development of nuclear power. By comparison, all of the literature I have read on the topic suggests that the market has yet to build a single nuclear plant.”

Romm’s recent quote re-contextualizes this basic thesis, but pivots the emphasis from reactor construction to “dead-ends” (a well-known possibility in any innovation journey; see Van de Ven, Polley, Garud & Venkataraman, 1999). The SONGS experience is yet one more example of the role of the market in nuclear power. It shows that while markets cannot build nuclear power plants, they can “dead-end” them.

Whether this market performativity is a good or a bad thing, is another question entirely…


Callon, M., Lascoumes, P., & Barthe, Y. 2009. Acting in an Uncertain World: An Essay on Technical Democracy. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Callon, M., & Rabeharisoa, V. 2003. Research “in the Wild” and the Shaping of New Social Identities. Technology in Society, 25: 193–204.

Garud, R., & Gehman, J. 2012. Metatheoretical Perspectives on Sustainability Journeys: Evolutionary, Relational and Durational. Research Policy, 41: 980–995.

Garud, R., Gehman, J., & Karnøe, P. 2010. Categorization by Association: Nuclear Technology and Emission-Free Electricity. Research in the Sociology of Work, 21: 51–93.

Garud, R., Gehman, J., & Karunakaran, A. 2014. Boundaries, Breaches, and Bridges: The Case of Climategate. Research Policy, 43: 60–73.

Van de Ven, A. H., Polley, D. E., Garud, R., & Venkataraman, S. 1999. The Innovation Journey. New York: Oxford University Press.

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.

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.

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.

Values Work Paper Update

My paper with Linda Treviño and Raghu Garud on “Values Work: A Process Study of the Emergence and Performance of Organizational Values Practices” is due to be published any day now. In what we hope were the penultimate page proofs, the full citation was listed as:

Gehman, Joel, Linda K. Treviño, and Raghu Garud. 2013. Values Work: A Process Study of the Emergence and Performance of Organizational Values Practices. Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 56, No. 1, 84–112. doi: 10.5465/amj.2010.0628.

In the paper we combine actor network theory with practice theory to study the emergence and performance of organizational values practices. Specifically, we study the development of an honor code within a large business school over a 10-year period. As with codes of conduct more generally, honor codes are designed to deter dishonesty and to promote integrity and honor. A brief summary is available here.

The paper has been a “Top 10 Recent Download” at SSRN multiple times and in multiple categories (here, here, here, here and here). This week, I received notice that it was now also among the Top 10 Downloads of all time (January 2, 1997 to March 4, 2013) in the Journal of Psychology of Innovation eJournal.

Complexity Arrangements Paper in the Top 10 Again

Approximately one year ago, my paper with Raghu Garud and Arun Kumaraswamy on “Complexity Arrangements for Sustained Innovation: Lessons from 3M Corporation“ was published in Organization Studies, where it was the lead article in a special issue entitled Towards the Ecological Style: Embracing Complexity in Organizational Research, guest edited by Kevin Dooley and Hari Tsoukas.

This week I learned that the paper was listed as an SSRN Top Ten download for the fourth time. As of today, the paper had been downloaded 208 times, making it my most popular paper to date. This time the paper was ranked as an Top Ten download in 14 different categories: