William Ocasio

William Ocasio
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | UIUC · Department of Business Administration

PhD

About

92
Publications
63,992
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
13,082
Citations
Additional affiliations
July 1995 - June 2020
Northwestern University
Position
  • Professor
September 1992 - June 1995
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
Education
July 1990 - August 1992
Stanford University
Field of study
  • Organizational Behavior

Publications

Publications (92)
Article
In this study, we analyze how the organizational architecture of a multibusiness firm affects the adaptation of its constituent business units. Using an inductive analysis of GE's governance system from 1951 to 2001, we examine how the integration of corporate and business unit attention occurs within and across the firm's governance channels. Our...
Article
Organizational theory and research has increased attention to the determinants and consequences of attention in organizations. Attention is not, however, a unitary concept but is used differently in various metatheories: the behavioral theory of the firm, managerial cognition, issue selling, attention-based view, and ecology. At the level of the br...
Article
Full-text available
The Behavioral Theory of the Firm has had an enormous influence on organizational theory, strategic management, and neighboring fields of socio-scientific inquiry. Its central concepts have become foundational to any theoretical and empirical work focussed on organizational phenomena. Unlike past reviews of this work, we start by focusing less on r...
Article
Full-text available
Organizational scholars have long used vocabularies, and with the rise of research on language, this work has grown. Yet the research drawing on vocabularies is wide ranging and not integrated. We review work on vocabularies from literatures on rhetoric, culture, cognition, and coordination. We integrate and extend this work on vocabularies, introd...
Article
We explore attention to Clinton's health care reform proposal, ongoing debates, and its political demise to develop theory that explains how events create opportunities for cognitive realignment and transformation in institutional logics. Our case analysis illustrates how a bottom-up process of environmental sensemaking led to the emergence and ado...
Article
Full-text available
Thus far the articles in the series JOD calls the “Organization Zoo” have employed the notion of a “zoo” metaphorically to describe an array of human institutions. Here we take the term literally to consider the design of the most complex organizations in the living world beside those of humans, a favorite of insect zoos around the world: ant colon...
Article
Recent critiques by Alvesson, Hallett, and Spicer have characterized neo-institutional theory (NIT) specifically as confronting a mid-life crisis and institutional theory (IT) more generally as uninhibited. While offering valid points, these critiques lack a fundamental understanding of how organizational institutionalism (OI) has become distinct f...
Article
March’s long and varied career in organization theory encompasses a number of seemingly disparate themes from rationality, to ambiguity and the garbage can model, to exploration and exploitation in organizations. We examine March’s diverse research trajectory and conclude that his different insights can be brought together under one common theme fo...
Presentation
Full-text available
Institutional theory has developed into a leading perhaps the dominant perspective in organizational analysis these days. One prominent point of criticism of institutional theory has been its overly strong emphasis on the macro level. In recent years, however, institutional scholars have begun to vigorously address this issue by expanding the scope...
Article
Full-text available
Organizational crises have often stimulated scholarly theorizing that has been productive for our field. Rarely, however, are there opportunities to theorize regarding crises that happen in our own professional associations. A crisis experienced by Professor Anita McGahan when she was the President of the Academy of Management, described in an acco...
Chapter
Full-text available
The chapter outlines the relevance of an institutional logics, pluralism, and leadership perspective on responsible management. The responsibility of corporate managers has been interpreted, to a large extent and for a long time, as giving primacy to the financial interests of shareholders. Yet, the growing emphasis on responsible management invite...
Article
This study examines the cross-level effect of group-level managers on member firms' problemistic search in hierarchical business groups. Usingmultilevel data from Korean business groups, we propose that the effects of failure to meet an aspiration level on R&D search intensity increase when member firm performance and R & D investments are more cog...
Presentation
Recently, scholars have begun to transform and expand institutional theory to a multi-level approach that explicitly incorporates the role of micro-processes. Although the emerging research stream of microinstitutionalism has seen much advocacy and enthusiasm, it is still in its infancy and relatively little consensus exists on what exactly microin...
Article
Full-text available
The attention-based view (ABV) has highlighted the role of organizational attention in strategic decision-making and adaptation. The tendency to view communication channels as “pipes and prisms” for information processing has, however, limited its ability to address strategic change. We propose a broader role for communication as a process by which...
Chapter
Ranging from Weber's ideal‐typical analysis of bureaucratic domination to Burt's structural hole theory, the analysis of the determinants and consequences of power have played an important role in organization theory. Research in organizational power and dependence follows, however, not a single line of development but disparate and at times contra...
Chapter
Full-text available
The closing plenary of the 2015 Alberta Institutions Conference offered an opportunity to reflect on the current status of the institutional perspective and the direction it may take in the future. Our four panelists, Mary Ann Glynn, Tom Lawrence, Renate Meyer, and William Ocasio, reflected on how institutionalists can matter. In a first conversati...
Article
Full-text available
We examine the role of history in organization studies by theorizing how collectivememory shapes societal institutions and the logics that govern them. We propose that, rather than transhistorical ideal types, societal logics are historically constituted cultural structures generated through the collectivememory of historical events. Wethen develop...
Article
Theory and research on institutional pluralism and complexity provide an opportunity to re-examine a key question of strategy: the sources of organizational heterogeneity in the creation and capture of value. Concretely, we focus on the implications for value creation and capture in terms of organizations’ business models and governance strategies,...
Article
Full-text available
Research summary: Exploiting opportunities is critical to a firm's competitive advantage. Not surprisingly, there has been considerable interest in the processes by which top managers allocate attention to potential opportunities. Although such investigations have largely focused on top-down processes for allocating attention to the environment, so...
Chapter
The process of selection and removal, and the transfer of power of senior organizational managers is a topic of long and continuing interest in macro-organizational behavior.
Article
Full-text available
The purpose of this panel symposium is to examine the range of theoretical tools that are available to understand the cognitive foundations of institutions and how meanings in institutions are constructed and changed. The institutional logics perspective has become a dominant approach to institutional analysis among organization theorists; however,...
Article
Talk is the primary mode of action within organizations, professions, and fields. The power of talk rests on words. Words only have power though because they are meaningful, and words are only meaningful because of the ways people in a community used them previously in their talk. Today’s talk relies on yesterday’s words, and today’s talk shapes wh...
Article
We examine how streams of communication enable the reproduction and change of the underlying principles that constitute institutional logics. While past research has shown that communication provides instantiations of institutional logics, the link between specific instances of communication and the emergence of institutional logics has not been ex...
Article
Full-text available
This study builds on structural elaboration theory by developing a model to explain the adoption of board structures that appear to conform to the prevailing institutional logic, but which in fact contradict it. We test our theory with the case of CEO-only board structures, a formal increase in board independence that prior research has shown to le...
Article
This study builds on structural elaboration theory by developing a model to explain the adoption of board structures that appear to conform to the prevailing institutional logic, but that in fact contradict it. We test our theory with the case of CEO-only board structures, a formal increase in board independence that prior research has shown to lea...
Article
This symposium explores and connects the ideas of scholars from management and cultural sociology who are developing research that integrates perspectives on language, cultural tool kits, and institutional logics with implications for strategies of action and practice. In bridging these perspectives, we seek to open new avenues of scholarship in th...
Article
This symposium will address the recent trend in the strategy literature to take more micro perspectives on strategy, examining the impact of individuals’ cognitions, dispositions and activities in the strategy process. These perspectives include Behavioral Strategy, Behavioral Theory of the Firm, Cognitive approaches, Microfoundational approaches a...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
“Further examining the relationship between sensemaking and attention may provide additional insights because sensemaking is particularly consequential when rare or critical events make top-down attention insufficient.” (Ocasio, 2011) The purpose of the symposium is to openly debate the relatively unexplored but critical relationship between organi...
Article
Full-text available
A Behavioral Theory of the Firm (Cyert & March, 1963) laid a conceptual foundation for the application of the “Carnegie School” approach to studying and understanding organization- level behavior and outcomes. The book has exerted enormous influence across fields such as organization theory, business strategy, economics, and organizational sociolog...
Chapter
Institutional logics and collective identities are closely intertwined: logics shape the emergence and evolution of identities, which in turn play a crucial role in mediating the influence of the logics themselves. Though there exists a significant body of research on the intersection of the two phenomena, relatively little attention has been given...
Article
Organizational theory and research has increased attention to the determinants and consequences of attention in organizations.Attention is not, however, a unitary concept but is used differently in various metatheories: the behavioral theory of the firm, managerial cognition, issue selling, attention-based view, and ecology. At the level of the bra...
Article
Full-text available
Many an exasperated parent, trying to get a fidgety child to listen and follow instructions, has utilized the phrase “pay attention” with a big exclamation mark at the end. Coaches, teachers, and mentors, willing their hopefuls to realize their full potential and to forsake distractions and temptations (and to make their guardians proud), implore t...
Article
Full-text available
We challenge conventional accounts of the rise and fall of strategic planning by examining the history and evolution of strategic planning practices at the General Electric Company (GE) during six CEO regimes: Wilson, Cordiner, Borch, Jones, Welch and Immelt. We distinguish strategic planning — a system of strategy formulation, decision making and...
Chapter
Full-text available
Institutional logics The phrase, ‘institutional logic’ has become somewhat of a buzz-word. Buzz words are over used; as a result their meanings often get distorted and overextended and they burn-out of existence. Mizruchi and Fein (1999) showed in the institutional theory literature how meanings get distorted and then taken for granted. To avoid mi...
Article
Full-text available
yert and March's (1963) A Behavioral Theory of the Firm and the broader Carnegie School form critical theoretical underpinnings for modern organization studies. Despite its impact, however, we suggest that researchers who rely on the Carnegie School have progressively lost touch with its defining commitment to a decision-centered view of organizati...
Article
Full-text available
What factors affect where organizations locate facilities in local communities? This paper examines how urban development influenced the neighborhood location of two very different types of facilities, general hospitals and orphanages, over the 70-year period during which Chicago emerged as an urban metropolis. Our results suggest that the human ec...
Article
Although corporate hierarchies are a dominant organizational form in U.S. industry, their effects on the survival of component business units remains relatively understudied. We examine the effects of market diversification and vertical integration at the business-unit level and industry diversification at the corporate level on business-unit survi...
Chapter
Full-text available
This study advances an attention-based view of corporate strategy and explores its implications for organizational design. We examine the governance of resource allocation in a multi-business organization through the firm’s network of decision-making and communication channels. Using both primary and secondary sources, we analyze the changes in the...
Article
Full-text available
Macro- and microorganizational perspectives on strategy processes are typically treated as distinct lines of inquiry. This paper proposes an attention-based theory (March & Olsen, 1976; Ocasio, 1997) of strategy formulation processes to bridge both perspectives. In particular, it links evolutionary perspectives on strategy (Burgelman, 1991, 2002) a...
Article
Linking sociological theories of vocabularies and institutions with Neo-Whorfian perspectives from cognitive science, this paper develops a theoretical framework and propositions on how specialized vocabularies structure cognition and action in organizations. We propose that vocabularies of organizing are socially constructed systems of linguistic...
Article
This study advances a view of the firm as a political coalition by theorizing and testing hypotheses on how political settlements among board factions regarding board independence shapes insider participation on the board. We suggest that insider board participation is determined not only by the conflict among elites, but also by their ability to e...
Article
Drawing on content analysis, text interpretation, and historical analysis, we develop a grounded theory to explain the evolution of vocabularies of corporate governance. The term corporate governance emerged in the 1970s as frame to explain contemporary corporate scandals. While the word has increased in usage and became institutionalized, its mean...
Article
Many organizations are made up of other organizations that have decided to act collectively - as with research and development consortia, industrial alliances, trade associations, and formal political coalitions. These collective organizations can be characterized by their differing strategies: some are general in scope, while others specialize on...
Article
This article examines the historical contingency of executive power and succession in the higher education publishing industry. We combine interview data with historical analysis to identify how institutional logics changed from an editorial to a market focus. Event history models are used to test for differences in the effects of these two institu...
Article
We develop a conceptual model of the circulation of corporate control—the instability in formal authority at the top of large corporations. According to our model, chief executive officer (CEO) selection is both a political contest for the top executive position and an ideological struggle among members of the firm's political coalition over defini...
Article
This paper follows an institutional theory of action in exploring the consequences of formal and informal rules on the chief executive officer (CEO) succession process. An analysis of the competing risks of insider versus outsider CEO succession in U.S. industrial corporations provides evidence that boards rely on both past precedents and formal in...
Article
The central argument is that firm behavior is the result of how firms channel and distribute the attention of their decision-makers. What decision-makers do depends on what issues and answers they focus their attention on. What issues and answers they focus on depends on the specific situation and on how the firm’s rules, resources, and relationshi...
Article
To explain patterns of political dynamics, this paper develops a model of the circulation of power and compares it with an alternative model, the institutionalization of power, in an event history analysis of CEO succession. The circulation of power emphasizes the internal contests for control and opposition to the CEO that emerge with increased ex...
Article
Full-text available
This paper studies how political dynamics affect CEO succession. An alternative to the model of institutionalization is developed, the model of circulation, where power decays over time and becomes subject to obsolescence and contestation. The empirical study finds that political dynamics are best characterized by the circulation of power.
Article
Full-text available
This paper builds on prior theory and research on attention and identity to examine whether and how industries publicly attend to external events. Events are critical triggers of institutional transformation and industry evolution. However, they must first become the focus of public attention to have this effect. We draw on a paired case comparison...
Article
The response of the community of Culebra, P.R. to the 200-kW Mod-OA wind demonstration project is evaluated. The in-depth interviews, workshops and survey undertaken provide the requisite observations. Misperception about the nature of the wind experiment and unmet expectations regarding the tangible benefits for the Island were found. A project sp...
Article
The purpose of this study is to analyze the socio-economic impacts of changes in energy prices and availability upon the low income minorities in Puerto Rico. This volume presents both the theoretical and empirical aspect of this research. Chapter two includes a review of the literature on the demand for electricity. Chapter three analyzes the pres...
Article
"August 1992." Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 1992. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 103-112). Microfilm.
Article
Submitted to the Graduate School of Business. Copyright by the author. Thesis (Ph. D.)--Stanford University, 1992.

Network

Cited By

Projects

Projects (2)
Project
Out now! This publication provides a compendium of the status quo of responsible management and makes connections, in order to further consolidate and enrich the responsible management field. There are multiple final draft chapter available in the project log. The final version is available in The Research Handbook of Responsible Management edited by Oliver Laasch, Roy Suddaby, Edward R. Freeman, and Dima Jamali, published in 2020, Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd, DOI: https://doi.org/10.4337/9781788971966