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Intersectionality Theory and Practice  

Doyin Atewologun

Intersectionality is a critical framework that provides us with the mindset and language for examining interconnections and interdependencies between social categories and systems. Intersectionality is relevant for researchers and for practitioners because it enhances analytical sophistication and offers theoretical explanations of the ways in which heterogeneous members of specific groups (such as women) might experience the workplace differently depending on their ethnicity, sexual orientation, and/or class and other social locations. Sensitivity to such differences enhances insight into issues of social justice and inequality in organizations and other institutions, thus maximizing the chance of social change. The concept of intersectional locations emerged from the racialized experiences of minority ethnic women in the United States. Intersectional thinking has gained increased prominence in business and management studies, particularly in critical organization studies. A predominant focus in this field is on individual subjectivities at intersectional locations (such as examining the occupational identities of minority ethnic women). This emphasis on individuals’ experiences and within-group differences has been described variously as “content specialization” or an “intracategorical approach.” An alternate focus in business and management studies is on highlighting systematic dynamics of power. This encompasses a focus on “systemic intersectionality” and an “intercategorical approach.” Here, scholars examine multiple between-group differences, charting shifting configurations of inequality along various dimensions. As a critical theory, intersectionality conceptualizes knowledge as situated, contextual, relational, and reflective of political and economic power. Intersectionality tends to be associated with qualitative research methods due to the central role of giving voice, elicited through focus groups, narrative interviews, action research, and observations. Intersectionality is also utilized as a methodological tool for conducting qualitative research, such as by researchers adopting an intersectional reflexivity mindset. Intersectionality is also increasingly associated with quantitative and statistical methods, which contribute to intersectionality by helping us understand and interpret the individual, combined (additive or multiplicative) effects of various categories (privileged and disadvantaged) in a given context. Future considerations for intersectionality theory and practice include managing its broad applicability while attending to its sociopolitical and emancipatory aims, and theoretically advancing understanding of the simultaneous forces of privilege and penalty in the workplace.

Article

A Practice-Based View of Innovation Adoption  

Rangapriya Kannan and Paola Perez-Aleman

Innovation adoption is challenging at both intra-organizational and interorganizational levels. Several decades of innovation adoption research have identified various barriers at both levels. Intra-organizational barriers are often related to the characteristics of the innovation, adopters, managers, environment, and ecosystem but can also include an incompatibility with an organization’s strategy, structural impediments, organizational resource constraints, a lack of fit of the innovation with an organizational culture and climate, decision making challenges, a lack of integration with an organization’s knowledge management, human resource management practices, dynamic capabilities, and active innovation resistance from customers. Interorganizational barriers include uncertainty with learning and implementation, the distributed nature of the innovation process, differences in production systems, disparities in regulatory systems, variation within local contexts, and the nature of embedded knowledge adopted in diverse organizational contexts. One of the key missing aspects in understanding innovation adoption is how extant practices within an organizational or interorganizational context enhance or hinder innovation adoption. Although the practices of innovation adoption emerge and evolve dynamically, existing research does not highlight fine-grained practices that lead to its success or failure. A practice lens focuses on people’s recurrent actions and helps to understand social life as an ongoing production that results from these actions. The durability of practices results from the reciprocal interactions between agents and structures that are embedded within daily routines. A practice lens allows us to study practices from three different perspectives. The first perspective, empirically explores how people act in organizational contexts. The second, a theoretical focus investigates the structure of organizational life. This perspective also delves into the relations between the actions that people take over time and in varying contexts. Finally, the third perspective which is a philosophical one focuses on how practices reproduce organizational reality. By focusing on the unfolding of constellations of everyday activities in relation to other practices within and across time and space, a practice lens hones in on everyday actions. Everyday actions are consequential in producing the structural contours of social life. A practice lens emphasizes what people do repeatedly and how those repetitive actions impact the social world. A practice theory lens also challenges the assumption that things are separable and independent. Instead, it focuses on relationality of mutual constitution to understand how one aspect of the issue creates another aspect. Relationality of mutual constitution is the notion that things such as identities, ideas, institutions, power, and material goods take on meaning only when they are enacted through practices instead of these being innate features of these things Focusing on duality forces us to address the assumptions that underlie the separation. A practice perspective on innovation adoption highlights the concepts of duality, dynamics, reciprocal interactions, relationality, and distributed agency to inform both the theory and practice of innovation adoption. Understanding these concepts enables a practice lens for successful adoption of innovations that impact organizational and societal outcomes, such as economic development, productivity enhancement, entrepreneurship, sustainability, equity, health, and other economic, social, and environmental changes.

Article

Board Processes and Performance: The Impact of Directors’ Social and Human Capital  

Morten Huse

What do we know about actual board behavior and board performance? How can we develop our knowledge about board processes and board members’ capabilities? As a research field grows into maturity, we learn to see nuances, and the vocabulary used becomes richer and more detailed. However, the development of a consistent and nuanced language in research about board processes and performance is lagging behind. How have research streams and individual scholars influenced how we do research today, and why are these stories not included in most of the published literature reviews on this topic? What distinguishes research about boards and governance from various disciplines? How do we find research about board processes and board capital, and how has groundbreaking research on the human side of corporate governance developed? Groundbreaking research of Myles Mace was conducted more than half a decade ago, and we need to understand what has taken place after the seminal 1989 contribution of Zahra and Pearce. Research about actual board behavior and processes were not for decades published in leading management and strategy journals. Most published research about board processes and board capital is formulaic, leans on proxies rather than direct observation, and has only incremental if any practical contributions. A message is thus that we should strive for more groundbreaking studies that challenge existing knowledge and practice, including our research practice. A research agenda about board processes and board capital should be influenced by some of the following suggestions: • It should go beyond formulaic and incremental studies. We should challenge existing wisdom and practice and search for alternative ways of doing research. • It should include more processual studies rather than archival data studies using proxies. • We should learn from the scholars doing groundbreaking research before us. • We should learn by comparing experiences from various types of organizations. • We must include lessons and publications not found in leading English-language journals. • We should apply a sharing philosophy and a programmatic approach in which we as researchers contribute to developing future generations of scholars.