ORBH Research Seminar | Weatherhead School at Case Western Reserve University

ORBH Research Seminar

Academic Research and Organization Studies: The impacts of scholars performing their own theories

There is a good deal of contemporary literature regarding academic impact on practice and on the importance of academics’ engagement with practitioners (e.g. the special issue of the British Journal of Management edited by MacIntosh et al., 2017).  Some consider impact a straightforward good, while others raise concerns about it.  Thus, this is a much more complex topic than is often acknowledged.  In this presentation, in order to explore some of the complexities of impact, I will focus on ways that academics attempt to perform their own theorizing (cf. Callon, 1998; Abrahamson et al., 2016).  After discussing some of the contradictory messages concerning impact, I will introduce some of the ways performativity has been discussed in the social sciences.  I will focus on four examples of performativity, some directly from management and some not, but all having implications for understanding some complexities of impact.  The first is the Black-Scholes options pricing model, a model which is typically considered the “icon” of performativity.  The equation has been and remains highly influential, while the hedge fund, Long Term Capital Management, based on it, went bankrupt.  The second is Elizabeth Warren, currently the senior US Senator from Massachusetts, who essentially created the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) based on her research and theorizing while she was a law school professor.  The CFPB is now under attack.  The third is Michael Porter, whose five forces model and accompanying strategy model is used worldwide, continues to dominate discussions of strategy, and has led to the formation of a number of organizations designed to implement it.   The fourth is David Cooperrrider’s development of Appreciative Inquiry, with which I imagine some of you, such as David, are familiar.    I will use these examples to explore underlying dynamics associated with performativity and to raise broader questions about what impact might comprise. 

Photo of Jean Bartunek
Dr. Jean Bartunek's primary interests center around academic-practitioner relationships and organizational change. She is interested in multiple dimensions of links between theory, research, and practice, including collaborative research, how knowledge is shared across boundaries, and relationships that transcend research. In addition, she studies multiple dimensions of the processes of organizational change, especially relationships between change agents and recipients, and interactions within as across these groups.

Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 from 10:30 a.m. to noon
Peter B. Lewis Building - Room 203
11119 Bellflower Road
Cleveland, OH 44106-7235
United States
Speaker(s): Professor Jean Bartunek, Boston College
Sponsored by: Organizational Behavior Department


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