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Article

The board of directors serves multiple corporate governance functions, including monitoring management, providing oversight on strategic issues, and linking the organization to the broader external environment. Researchers have become increasingly interested in board interlocks and how content transmitted via these linkages shapes firm outcomes, such as corporate structure and strategies. As influential mechanisms to manage environmental uncertainty and facilitate information exchange, Board interlocks are created by directors who are affiliated with more than one firm via employment or board service and allow the board to capture a diversity of strategic experiences. One critical corporate decision that may be influenced by interlocks and strategic diffusion is diversification (i.e., in which products and markets to compete). Directors draw on their own experiences with diversification strategies at other firms to help guide and manage ongoing strategic decision-making. There is broad scholarship on interlocks and the individuals who create them, with extant research reporting that some firms are more likely to imitate or learn from their interlock partners than others. Prior findings suggest that the conditions under which information is transmitted via interlock, such as an individual director’s experience with diversification strategies at other firms, may make that information more influential to the focal firm’s own strategic decision-making related to diversification. A more holistic framework captures factors related to the individual interlocking director, the board and firm overall and the context surrounding these linkages and relationships, helping to promote future research. Understanding the social context surrounding board interlocks offers opportunities to more deeply examine how these interconnections serve in pursuit of the board’s fundamental purpose of protecting shareholder investment from managerial self-interest. Overall, integrating multi-level factors will offer new insights into the influence of board interlocks on firm strategies on both sides of the partnership. Expanding knowledge of how inter-firm linkages transmit knowledge influential to board decision-making can also improve our understanding of board effectiveness and corporate governance.

Article

James Mattingly and Nicholas Bailey

Stakeholder strategies, or firms’ approaches to stakeholder management, may have a significant impact on firms’ long-term prosperity and, thereby, on their life chances, as established in the stakeholder view of the firm. A systematic literature review surveyed the contemporary body of quantitative empirical research that has examined firm-level activities relevant to stakeholder management, corporate social responsibility, and corporate social performance, because these three constructs are often conflated in literature. A search uncovered 99 articles published in 22 journals during the 10-year period from 2010 to 2019. Most studies employed databases reporting environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ratings, originally created for use in socially responsible investing and corporate risk assessment, but others employed content analysis of texts and primary surveys. Examination revealed a key difference in the scoring of data, in that some studies aggregated numerous indicators into a single composite index to indicate levels of stakeholder management, and other studies scored more articulated constructs. Articulated constructs provided richer observations, including governance and structural arrangements most likely to provide both stakeholder benefits and protections. Also observed were constraining influences of managerial and market myopia, sustaining influences from resilience and complexity frameworks, and recognition that contextual variables are contingencies having impact in recognizing the efficacy of stakeholder management strategies.

Article

Thomas Donaldson and Diana C. Robertson

Serious research into corporate ethics is nearly half a century old. Two approaches have dominated research; one is normative, the other empirical. The former, the normative approach, develops theories and norms that are prescriptive, that is, ones that are designed to guide corporate behavior. The latter, the empirical approach, investigates the character and causes of corporate behavior by examining corporate governance structures, policies, corporate relationships, and managerial behavior with the aim of explaining and predicting corporate behavior. Normative research has been led by scholars in the fields of moral philosophy, theology and legal theory. Empirical research has been led by scholars in the fields of sociology, psychology, economics, marketing, finance, and management. While utilizing distinct methods, the two approaches are symbiotic. Ethical and legal theory are irrelevant without factual context. Similarly, empirical theories are sterile unless translated into corporate guidance. The following description of the history of research in corporate ethics demonstrates that normative research methods are indispensable tools for empirical inquiry, even as empirical methods are indispensable tools for normative inquiry.

Article

Jenny K. Rodriguez and Elisabeth Anna Guenther

Gendered organization theory refers to an understanding of organizations as sites that (re)produce gender dynamics and the gender order. Bringing the gender lens to discussions about organization theory is useful to capture the filter through which relational dynamics operate in organizations and the way these (re)construct the psychological, cultural, and social dimensions that shape the organization as a dynamic, relational, and interdependent structure. Key ideas associated with gendered organization theory center on gender as a social category that continues to be the basis for inequality in working life. Gendered organization theory pays particular attention to how gender interacts with different dimensions of social, political, economic, and technological life and how this is mobilized in organizations as well as how organizations foster and tackle new and reformulated gender(ed) inequalities. However, gender is not the only social category of difference that shapes inequality in organizations and would benefit from more explicit insight from feminist theories to unpack the complex dynamics in organizations and the impact they have on individuals. Focusing on intersectionality, decolonial feminism, ecofeminism, queering, and theorizing beyond the human provides a more integrated framework to understand the complex and fluid impact of gender in organizations.

Article

The question of how to efficiently, holistically, and successfully develop leaders has been the focus of scholars and practitioners for several decades. Embedding the process of leader development in organizational contexts allows participants to develop and apply leadership knowledge, skills, and identity awareness. Embeddedness facilitates the holistic integration of the interactive processes of leader development (which focuses on increasing the leadership capacity of an individual) and leadership development (which focuses on increasing the leadership capacity of an organization), which is referred to in this article as leader(ship) development (LD). Two sub-processes involved in LD (i.e., general and situational identity development and knowledge/skill/social capital development) and four mechanisms of embeddedness that facilitate holistic LD (i.e., leader identity integration, opportunities to learn and develop in the organization, organizational support and feedback, and helping relationships) will be described. A discussion on the ways by which management education pedagogy can integrate and facilitate embeddedness and provide guidance for future research will follow.

Article

Jeff Hearn and David Collinson

Even though gender and gender analysis are still often equated with women, men and masculinities are equally gendered. This applies throughout society, including within organizations. Following pioneering feminist scholarship on work and organizations, explicitly gendered studies on men and masculinities have increased since the 1980s. The need to include the gendered analysis of men and masculinities as part of gender studies of organizations, leadership, and management, is now widely recognized at least within gender research. Yet, this insight continues to be ignored or downplayed in mainstream work and even in some studies seen as “critical.” Indeed the vast majority of mainstream work on organizations still has either no gender analysis whatsoever or relies on a very simplistic and rather crude understanding of gender dynamics. Research on men and masculinities has been wide ranging and has raised important new issues about gendered dynamics in organizations, including cultures and countercultures on factory shopfloors; historical transformations of men and management in reproducing patriarchies; the relations of bureaucracy, men, and masculinities; management-labor relations as interrelations of masculinities; managerial and professional identity formation; managerial homosociality; and the interplay of diverse occupational masculinities. Research has revealed how structures, cultures, and practices of men and masculinities continue to persist and to dominate in many contemporary organizations. Having said this, the concepts of gender, of men and masculinities, and of organization have all been subject to complex and contradictory processes that entail both their explicit naming and their simultaneous deconstruction and critique. This is illustrated, respectively, in the intersectional construction of gender; the pressing need to name men as men in analysis of organizational dominance, but also deconstruct the category of men as provisional; and in the multiplication of organizational forms as, for example, interorganizational relations, net-organizations, and cyberorganizations. These contradictory historical and conceptual namings and deconstructions are especially important in the analysis of transnational organizations operating within the context of globalization, transnationalizations, production, reproduction, and trans(national) patriarchies. Within transnational organizations such as large gendered multinational enterprises, the taken-for-granted nature of transnational gendered hierarchies and cultures persists in management, maintained partly through commonalities across difference, gendered horizontal specializations, and controls. Transnational organizations are key sites for the production of a variety of developing forms of (transnational) business masculinities, some more individualistic, some marriage based, some nation based, some transcending nation. These masculinities have clear implications for gendered practices in private spheres, including the provision of domestic servicing often by Black and minority ethnic women. The growth of the knowledge economy brings further complications to these transnational patterns, through elaboration of techno-masculinities, and interactions of men, masculinities, and information and communication technologies. This is particularly relevant in the international financial sector, where constructions of men and masculinities are impacted by the gendering of capital and financial crisis, and gender regimes of financial institutions, as in men financiers’ risky behavior. Further studies are needed addressing the “gender-neutral” hegemony of organizations, leaderships, and managements, especially in transnational arenas, and organizations subject to changing technologies. Other key research issues concern analysis of neglected intersectionalities, including intersectional privileges, male/masculine/men’s bodies, and the taken-for-granted category of “men” in and around organizations.

Article

Do the activities of social movements (e.g., public protest, shareholder activism, boycotts, and sabotage) impact businesses, and if so, how do they impact businesses? When confronted by activist demands, how do firms respond, and does this response vary depending on who the activists are and what their relationship is to the firm? Answering these questions is critical for businesses and activists alike, as we move into an era of heightened activism directed at firms. A growing area of research that is situated at the intersection of economic and political sociology, social movement studies, history, and organizational theory, tackles these questions, in an increasingly methodologically sophisticated and nuanced manner. As a result, a number of important articles and books have been published, and several high-profile, interdisciplinary conferences have been held. This body of research shows that social movements have both direct and indirect effects on businesses, and that these effects are amplified by media attention to activism. For example, we know that activism impacts the financial performance of firms, as well as their reputation. And, we know that the activities of social movements have consequences on firm policies and practices. In turn, businesses have developed a varied repertoire of ways to respond to activist demands. While some businesses ignore activists, others decide to retaliate against activists. Increasingly, businesses concede to the demands of activists in material ways by changing policies and practices that are criticized, while others devise symbolic ways to respond to activist demands, thereby preserving their reputation without necessarily changing their activities.

Article

Stakeholder engagement refers to the aims, practices, and impacts of stakeholder relations in businesses and other organizations. According to a general framework, stakeholder engagement has four dimensions: examining stakeholder relations, communicating with stakeholders, learning with (and from) stakeholders, and integrative stakeholder engagement. Stakeholder engagement is increasingly used in areas like strategic management, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and sustainability management, while stakeholder-engagement research in marketing, finance, and human resources (HR) is still less common. Two main camps in the stakeholder-engagement literature exist: the strategic and the normative. To foster an inclusive understanding of stakeholder engagement, future research in both camps is needed. While the strategic camp necessitates a relational view, including both the firm and the stakeholder perspectives, the normative camp requires novel philosophical underpinnings, such as humanism and ecocentrism. Furthermore, there is constant debate about the argument that stakeholder engagement is, and should be, most importantly, practical. Stakeholder-engagement research should focus on solving real-life problems with practical consequences intended to make people’s lives better.

Article

Contrary to its popular use to refer to racially violent extremism, white supremacy in the tradition of critical race studies describes the normalized ideologies, structures, and conventions through which whiteness is constructed as biologically, intellectually, culturally, and morally superior. This socially constituted racial hierarchy was developed through European colonialism to justify the acts of genocide and slavery that extracted resources from “non-white” lands and bodies to enrich “white” elites. Despite prevailing myths that colonialism and racism are artifacts of the past, the cultural hegemony of white power and privilege remain enduring pillars of contemporary business and society. White supremacy inextricably shapes business practices. Indeed, our current practices of business administration and management are themselves modeled on slavery—the possession, extraction, and control of human “resources.” White supremacist ideologies and structures can also be found in the highly romanticized discourses of leadership that continue to rely on imperialist myths that white people are more fit to govern. They likewise surface in entrepreneurship and innovation where white people are overwhelmingly cast in the glorified roles of geniuses and pioneers. Even diversity management, which purports to nurture inclusive organizations, ironically reinforces white supremacy, treating workers of color as commodities to exploit. Within liberal logics of multicultural tolerance, workers of color are often tokenistically hired, expected to assimilate to white structures and cultures, and used as alibis against racism. White supremacy is an integral (and often invisible) dimension of work, organizations, society, and everyday life. Challenging white supremacy requires that we engage in frank, honest conversations about race and racism, and the brutal legacy of European colonialism that maintains these constructs and practices. The path ahead requires the relinquishment of beliefs that race is an immutable, primordial essence and recognize it instead as a socially constructed and politically contested identification that has been used for white gain. Two ways that white supremacy may be dismantled in our cultures include redoing whiteness and abolishing whiteness. Redoing whiteness requires collectively understanding the mundane cultural practices of whiteness and choosing to do otherwise. Abolishing whiteness calls for a more absolute rejection of whiteness and what it has come to represent in various cultures. Antiracist resistance demands people of all racial identifications to commit to thinking, doing, and being beyond the existing racial hierarchy.