Article

Speaking as one, but not speaking up: Dealing with new moral taint in an occupational online community

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Abstract

This paper builds a process theory of how participants in an online community deal with a new identity threat. Based upon the in-depth, interpretive case study of an online community of retail bankers, it develops a grounded theory that reveals that participants in an online community deal with new taint by protecting their occupation's identity but not by attempting to repair its external image. In the investigated community, reactions progressed from rejecting the taint to distancing from it and, finally, resigning to it. Overall, the dynamics of an occupational online community reveal that the objective of protecting the existing identity of its members supersede that of taking a more proactive stance to address the identity threat and attempt to influence new regulations affecting the occupation.

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... Moreover, one needs to bear in mind that no matter the data source he/she is going to choose, the platforms must adhere to the following criteria [2]: relevance of data available in the platform to the phenomenon under investigation; accessibility of data in the platform; credibility of data gathered in the platform, including adherence of the data collection procedures to ethical and legal standards; and activeness of the users of the platform as grounded theorization demands the collection of thick data. Although not being explicitly mentioned by Vaast and Levina (2015), the four criteria stated above can be noticed in their research on occupational identity through the BankingOC forum (an online community of retail bankers). For example, activeness can be perceived because "the online community had a relatively tightly knit group of very active participants that was relatively stable over our period of investigations" (Vaast & Levina, 2015, p. 79). ...
... For avoiding these risks, it is suggested to grounded theorists to take seriously the call for strong multimodal research (Zilber, 2017) by combining online data with more traditional offline ones. For example, one can mix online observation with semi-structured interviews along the lines of some exemplary articles (Barber a-Tom as et al., 2019; Illia, Romenti, C anovas, Murtarelli, & Carroll, 2017;Vaast & Levina, 2015;Younger & Fisher, 2020). ...
... -It is not easy to access the quality criteria of online platforms (relevance, accessibility, credibility and activeness) -Although online data tends to be traceable and searchable, some platforms have a limited timeframe to store their events (e.g. social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook have "stories" that disappear 24 h after being posted) -Grounded theorists must avoid the trap of collecting data in platforms that are not suitable to answer their research questions (e.g. if social media data is not helpful, gathering data in such platforms will consume time and effort that could be invested in collecting data in other suitable platforms) - Vaast and Levina (2015) show Step 3data access and collection -Grounded theorists have at their disposal several tools that facilitate the access and the collection of online data (e.g. CAQDAS) -Researchers have at their disposal almost unlimited access to online kind of data, considering that much of the data available in the new online era are stored and can be accessed through publicdomain servers and platforms -Access to research informants can become less challenging because of the fact that several online platforms (e.g. ...
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Purpose: This study aims to present a guide for using grounded theory methods for exploring organizational phenomena of the new online era. Design/methodology/approach: A reflexive account is adopted on how one can build upon the foundations of traditional offline grounded theory for conducting grounded theorizing with online-based data. Findings: Guidelines for conducting grounded theory on online contexts are presented for crafting research questions, gathering online data, and using consolidated methods for analyzing online data. The article shows future and present challenges posed by the new online era for grounded theorizing, as well as helpful lessons to be learned from traditional offline grounded theory to mitigating them. Implications: The implications are helpful for both established qualitative organizational scholars that are yet to catch-up on the boundary spanning process of using the digital sources of data in grounded theory. They are equally helpful for newcomers on qualitative grounded theory by guiding them on where and how to start these challenging research endeavors of grounded theorizing in this new online era. Originality/value: Scant attention has been given on applications of grounded theory in the new online era. The differences between online and offline settings have not been clearly defined to this date, and neither do guidelines exist for how qualitative grounded theorists can take advantage of online data to build theory about new organizational phenomena emerging in the online era.
... Existing research has advanced our understanding of how social media facilitate mobilisation for CA (McAdam & Scott, 2005;Vaast & Levina, 2015;Vaast, Safadi, Lapointe, & Negoita, 2017) and how social media platforms influence the work of collectives . Several studies identified affordances of social media that support information circulation, organisation, and decision making in CA settings, either within a formal organisation or self-organised by peers (Deng & Joshi, 2016;Karahanna, Xu, Xu, & Zhang, 2018;Kietzmann, Hermkens, McCarthy, & Silvestre, 2011;Seidel, Recker, & Vom Brocke, 2013;Stamati, Papadopoulos, & Anagnostopoulos, 2015). ...
... We address here the calls for more in-depth research on how social media inform collective engagement in several forms (Faraj, Jarvenpaa, & Majchrzak, 2011;Tim, Pan, Bahri, & Fauzi, 2018;Vaast et al., 2017), how social media influence the structuring of CA (Faraj et al., 2011;Winter, Berente, Howison, & Butler, 2014), and how individual actions performed through social media relate among them, influencing CA (Tim et al., 2018). Furthermore, our study responds to the call for the analysis of cases from various domains (Vaast & Levina, 2015) to include broader perspectives than only the knowledge-sharing process (Leonardi & Vaast, 2017) and to study more complex settings in which social media platforms are used . Focusing on the research question: How do social media support the organisation of CA?, we examine possibilities for action through social media in relation to fundamental processes for organising CA and investigate the contributions made by different affordances of social media to CA processes. ...
... We contribute to a better understanding of how social media influence the organisation of CA and how social media affordances are actualised in combination to favour CA. Responding to the call in the literature to investigate CA in different settings Vaast & Levina, 2015), our study represents a novel example of a social media study in a complex community for CA. ...
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Social media provide new opportunities for supporting the dynamics of collective action (CA), allowing for the mobilisation of people into debates and involving them in new forms of collective decision making. Although current studies focus on opportunities offered by social media for collective action, there is still a need to deepen the understanding of how social media support the organisation of CA and to study the effects of individual actions performed on social media in complex organisational settings. We here explore how social media are used to manage CA by the Italian political movement Movimento Cinque Stelle, using the concept of affordances as the conceptual framing. Based on the qualitative case analyses, our study contributes to the knowledge base by identifying a typology of nine affordances supporting CA and exploring how the combined actualisations of some affordances of the typology create antecedents of the fundamental processes of CA. On the basis of the study analysis, we suggest a model to describe how social media support CA through affordances, their combinations, and the creation of antecedents and then formulate implications for research and practice.
... High-status professions are no exception. For instance, recently, bankers' dirty image has been studied, due to their risky management style, lack of customer care and extreme bonus culture, leading to a financial crisis and public scandals [2,3]. Accountants are in the news as well for big accounting errors and they self-report shame for dirty tasks like providing "ritualized information" and producing "ignored documents", which they consider "dirty work" [4] (p. 235). ...
... It also does not imply everyone avoids these services, as some might even like them. High-status professions can be morally tainted as well: for instance, lawyers [14,15], healthcare professionals doing abortion work [37] and after the 2008 financial crisis, we can add bankers to the list [2,3]. ...
... Refocusing shifts attention from tainted aspects of a profession to non-tainted ones. Occupational ideologies apply very well to moral taint, as Vaast and Levina [3] (p. 84) found in their study on retail bankers, Tyler [34] (p. ...
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Professional service firms in Western Europe have a reputation for putting huge pressures on their junior employees, resulting in very long work hours, and as a consequence health risks. This study explores moral leadership as a possible response to the stigma of such dirty leadership. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 12 consultant managers and with each one of their juniors, and found that managers put several pressures on their juniors; these pressures bring high levels of stress, lowered wellbeing and burnout. Society considers such a pressuring leadership style morally dirty. To counteract the experience of being seen as morally dirty, we found that consultant managers were normalizing such criticisms as commonly assumed in dirty work literature. However, they also employed several moral leadership tactics to counteract the negative consequences criticized in society. However, in addition to the well-known individual-level tactics, consultant managers and their juniors also reported moral leadership support at the organizational level, like institutionalized performance talks after every project, trainings, specific criteria for hiring juniors, and policies to recognize and compliment high performance. Still, we cannot conclude these moral leadership approaches are moral by definition. They can be used in an instrumental way as well, to further push performance.
... Moral taint sticks to bankers who are perceived as breaking this code. Vaast and Levina (2015) also explore banking and bankers as a newly tainted occupation that has and is becoming morally stigmatized work. They focus attention to bankers' experiences directly and look to better understand how a group of bankers manage such new taint on an occupation with high occupational prestige. ...
... More research is needed to better understand how emotions and moral taint intersect and the emotional impact that this bears upon the individuals and groups performing it. Stanley et al. (2014) and Vaast and Levina's (2015) work discussed earlier highlights the dynamic nature of perceptions of taint and how an occupation with high prestige such as investment banking or bankers can shift over time to that which is morally questionable. Poole Martinez's (2007) and Tracy and Scott's (2007) work also draws attention to the role of the media in the construction of stigma. ...
... 6. Where Grandy and Mavin pull on the research of Stanley et al. (2014) and Vaast and Levina (2015) to highlight how over time high-prestige occupations (banking) and those who perform them can become stigmatized. ...
... Likewise, the job of butcher is more likely to be dirty for the vegetarian than for the chef. Equally, dirtiness can change over time, as we have seen with banking, once often seen in high regard, but since the financial crisis, morally stigmatised by many (Vaast and Levina, 2015). Similarly, class hierarchies can colour stigma and taint such as downplaying unpleasant or unhealthy physical characteristics of "non-manual" work, much as the cognitive features of much manual labour were-there are now fewer dirty blue-collar jobs (Braverman, 1974;Lockwood, 1958). ...
... Here too, there is scope to consider the role of different social actors or stakeholders in the coproduction and perception of taint (see also Meisenbach, 2010;Rivera, 2015). Such stakeholders could be family, friends, colleagues, managers, clients, regulators, online communities or the media (Bouwmeester and Stiekema, 2015;Huey and Broll, 2015;Stanley et al., 2014;Vaast and Levina 2015). Thus, how, for example, is dirtiness formed interactively, over time and to what extent is it constructed or contested in power relations? ...
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In this study, we develop the concept of dirty work by identifying new ways in which it is coped with. Traditionally, studies of dirty work have focused on how physical, social, or moral dirtiness is downplayed or normalized by workers in often physically tough “manual” occupations. We consider psychological dirtiness in work that is “knowledge intensive” and where high occupational status shields the need to protect oneself from stigma associated with dirty work. Based on interviews with management consultants working in stressful jobs in elite professional service firms, we complement the emerging literature on coping with the experience of dirty work by identifying three self-tainting tactics that consultants draw on to accentuate, rather than normalize dirty work: explication, stressing ambiguity, and humor. The motives behind these taint accentuation tactics varied from criticizing the working conditions in the sector, to the opposite, stressing one’s abilities and commitment to potential clients and managers. Where dirty aspects of work have been more psychological, accentuation was used for impression management and as a form of critique. We conclude with a discussion of the wider implications for research and practice, especially in terms of how coping with dirty work is shaped by occupational context, the kind of dirtiness (physical or psychological, social or moral), and the interests of occupational audiences.
... Likewise, the job of butcher is more likely to be dirty for the vegetarian than for the chef. Equally, dirtiness can change over time, as we have seen with banking, once often seen in high regard, but since the financial crisis, morally stigmatised by many (Vaast and Levina, 2015). Similarly, class hierarchies can colour stigma and taint such as downplaying unpleasant or unhealthy physical characteristics of "non-manual" work, much as the cognitive features of much manual labour were-there are now fewer dirty blue-collar jobs (Braverman, 1974;Lockwood, 1958). ...
... Here too, there is scope to consider the role of different social actors or stakeholders in the coproduction and perception of taint (see also Meisenbach, 2010;Rivera, 2015). Such stakeholders could be family, friends, colleagues, managers, clients, regulators, online communities or the media (Bouwmeester and Stiekema, 2015;Huey and Broll, 2015;Stanley et al., 2014;Vaast and Levina 2015). Thus, how, for example, is dirtiness formed interactively, over time and to what extent is it constructed or contested in power relations? ...
... Since digitalization of consumers' interactions has brought new "virtual" speeches that generate a larger amount of data to be managed (Ranfagni et al., 2014), there is a growing interest in exploiting the opportunities provided by social media platforms. To date, there is still a small number of studies focused on users' interactions within virtual brand communities (Zaglia, 2013) exploring online phenomena through digital data provided by social media platforms (Germonprez and Hovorka, 2013;Vaast and Levina, 2015;Floreddu et al., 2014;Moi et al., 2017;Frau et al., 2018). Moreover, the innovative tools currently available for conducting research (Ranfagni et al., 2014) can easily handle data generated online (Cho et al., 2017), overcoming traditional methodologies usually chosen to perform qualitative research in this stream of research (Du Plessis, 2017). ...
... Accordingly, online communities are crucial for customer engagement Floreddu et al., 2014;Gummerus et al., 2012) as brands improve customer satisfaction, trust, affective commitment, etc. Despite the growing relevance of this topic (Kamboj and Rahman, 2017), studies on users' virtual interactions within online communities is still narrow (Zaglia, 2013) particularly qualitative studies of online phenomena directly exploiting data provided by digital platforms (Germonprez and 77 Exploring the Role of NVivo Software in Marketing Research Hovorka, 2013; Vaast et al., 2013;Vaast and Levina, 2015). Given the advantages of using innovative tools (Ranfagni et al., 2014) to manage digital data (Cho et al., 2017), we believe it is interesting to adopt them to perform qualitative research within this field of research (Du Plessis, 2017). ...
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... Since digitalization of consumers' interactions has brought new "virtual" speeches that generate a larger amount of data to be managed (Ranfagni et al., 2014), there is a growing interest in exploiting the opportunities provided by social media platforms. To date, there is still a small number of studies focused on users' interactions within virtual brand communities (Zaglia, 2013) exploring online phenomena through digital data provided by social media platforms (Germonprez and Hovorka, 2013;Vaast and Levina, 2015;Floreddu et al., 2014;Moi et al., 2017;Frau et al., 2018). Moreover, the innovative tools currently available for conducting research (Ranfagni et al., 2014) can easily handle data generated online (Cho et al., 2017), overcoming traditional methodologies usually chosen to perform qualitative research in this stream of research (Du Plessis, 2017). ...
... Accordingly, online communities are crucial for customer engagement Floreddu et al., 2014;Gummerus et al., 2012) as brands improve customer satisfaction, trust, affective commitment, etc. Despite the growing relevance of this topic (Kamboj and Rahman, 2017), studies on users' virtual interactions within online communities is still narrow (Zaglia, 2013) particularly qualitative studies of online phenomena directly exploiting data provided by digital platforms (Germonprez and 77 Exploring the Role of NVivo Software in Marketing Research Hovorka, 2013; Vaast et al., 2013;Vaast and Levina, 2015). Given the advantages of using innovative tools (Ranfagni et al., 2014) to manage digital data (Cho et al., 2017), we believe it is interesting to adopt them to perform qualitative research within this field of research (Du Plessis, 2017). ...
... Moral taint sticks to bankers who are perceived as breaking this code. Vaast and Levina (2015) also explore banking and bankers as a newly tainted occupation that has and is becoming morally stigmatized work. They focus attention to bankers' experiences directly and look to better understand how a group of bankers manage such new taint on an occupation with high occupational prestige. ...
... More research is needed to better understand how emotions and moral taint intersect and the emotional impact that this bears upon the individuals and groups performing it. Stanley et al.'s (2014) and Vaast and Levina's (2015) work discussed earlier highlight the dynamic nature of perceptions of taint and how an occupation with high prestige such as investment banking or bankers can shift over time to that which is morally questionable. Poole Martinez's (2007) and Tracy and Scott's (2007) work also draw attention to the role of the media in the construction of stigma. ...
Chapter
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Morally dirty work refers to organization, occupation or employment tasks regarded as sinful, dubious, deceptive, intrusive or confrontational. For those who perform such work (dirty workers), moral taint serves as a stain on the individual’s integrity, a defect of character that may stick even after the individual stops performing the work. Often such work can be simultaneously viewed in positive and negative terms, thus performed by individuals who, we suggest, can paradoxically be considered both saints and sinners. In this chapter, we explain what we understand by moral taint and the implications at the individual, group and organization levels. We discuss what we provocatively refer to as the most obvious sinners (e.g., casino workers, HIV/AIDS/addiction caregivers, genetic termination nurses, border patrol agents), the sometimes sinners (e.g., correctional officers, truckers, private detectives), and new and surprising sinners (e.g., bankers, nursing as pornography, secretaries). We conclude with areas for future research.
... This enabled us to collect observational data that were spontaneous and not influenced by conversations with the researchers. Digital trace data generated on online platforms is increasingly used for the purpose of analysing human perceptions vis-à-vis socio-technical phenomena in IS research (e.g., Barrett et al., 2016;Bauer et al., 2016;Tarafdar & Ray, 2021;Vaast & Levina, 2015). ...
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In algorithmic work, algorithms execute operational and management tasks such as work allocation, task tracking and performance evaluation. Humans and algorithms interact with one another to accomplish work so that the algorithm takes on the role of a co‐worker. Human–algorithm interactions are characterised by problematic issues such as absence of mutually co‐constructed dialogue, lack of transparency regarding how algorithmic outputs are generated, and difficulty of over‐riding algorithmic directive – conditions that create lack of clarity for the human worker. This article examines human–algorithm role interactions in algorithmic work. Drawing on the theoretical framing of organisational roles, we theorise on the algorithm as role sender and the human as the role taker. We explain how the algorithm is a multi‐role sender with entangled roles, while the human as role taker experiences algorithm‐driven role conflict and role ambiguity. Further, while the algorithm records all of the human's task actions, it is ignorant of the human's cognitive reactions – it undergoes what we conceptualise as ‘broken loop learning’. The empirical context of our study is algorithm‐driven taxi driving (in the United States) exemplified by companies such as Uber. We draw from data that include interviews with 15 Uber drivers, a netnographic study of 1700 discussion threads among Uber drivers from two popular online forums, and analysis of Uber's web pages. Implications for IS scholarship, practice and policy are discussed.
... It has been observed that the culture and managerial practices of investment banking (i.e. a sales culture which fosters harmful cross-selling and unlawful mis-selling) have infiltrated retail banking, provoking a similar loss of reputation (Froud, Tischer, and Williams 2017). In line with this argument, Vaast and Levina (2015) have investigated how an online community of retail bankers dealt with the new moral taint attributed to their work. Similarly, a recent study has included bankers among the 27 most tainted occupations in Italy (Valtorta et al. 2019). ...
Article
While researchers have to date mainly focused on the coping strategies employed by dirty workers to normalise taint, the organisational and managerial roots of dirty work have been little explored. The article contributes to filling this gap by means of a single case study conducted in a big Italian banking company. In the research context investigated, branch-level bank employees felt themselves tainted from the moral (as ‘vendors’) and social (as ‘servants of customers’) points of view. These perceptions were directly associated with organisational strategies and managerial practices intended to fulfil demanding sales targets or to create more space and freedom for customers. Although the literature assumes that occupational taint is generated by external societal attributions, by introducing the concept of ‘organisationally-reinforced taint’ this study shows that internal organisational strategies and managerial practices can contribute to dirtying an occupation, even a relatively prestigious one like bank work.
... Online communities (OCs) offer the ground for breeding activism as they provide opportunities for individuals who regardless of their location voluntarily form a social aggregation through an online platform for sharing interests, knowledge and experiences (Rheingold, 1993). OCs can be used for providing a shelter for their members (Vaast & Levina, 2015) and a sense of place where members feel empowered to freely express themselves and get involved in stimulating discussions (Panteli, 2016). The growth and sustainability of these communities depends on members' involvement. ...
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... The transparency of evaluation paired with the duality of roles, wherein peers evaluate and are evaluated in turn, creates an opportunity for members to be strategic in their evaluations. Members who seek positive evaluations as a means to power or higher status, or because evaluations are important to their identity in the community (Vaast and Levina 2015), can be motivated to act strategically in their approach to evaluating peers. ...
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Online communities that typically defy traditional forms of hierarchy often rely on lateral authority delegated to peer evaluators. While peer evaluations are supposed to be meritocratic, we theorize that people engaged in peer evaluation are often motivated to behave strategically. Processes that make evaluations transparent also motivate actors to consider how their evaluation of a peer will be perceived, and how they themselves will be perceived and evaluated in turn. This creates a dilemma with respect to evaluating peers negatively. Evaluating at least some peers negatively is important to be perceived as an honest, capable member of a meritocratic community, yet negative evaluations can provoke retaliation. We theorize that strategic actors reserve their negative evaluations for peers who are unlikely or unable to retaliate. We find support for our arguments in a unique dataset of peer evaluations in elections for Wikipedia administrators in 2003–14, plus detailed qualitative interviews with 24 Wikipedia peer evaluation participants and administrators. We elaborate our results with implications for research on peer evaluation in online communities and beyond as well as on novel forms of organizing where meritocratic, peer-based ideals persist.
... In identity literature, people engaged in tainted work in traditional work resign to defend, ignore or normalize the taint (Ashforth & Kreiner, 1999;Ashforth, Kreiner, Clark, & Fugate, 2007;Vaast & Levina, 2015). Interestingly, Nigerian crowdworkers do not use these defensive strategies in relation to society but disassociate themselves from the digital work itself that causes it. ...
Article
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Crowdwork is becoming increasingly popular as evidenced by its rapid growth. It is a new way of working that is conducted through global digital platforms where money is exchanged for services provided online. As it is digitally grounded, it has been assumed to be context-free, uniform, and consisting of a simple exchange of tasks/labour from a global workforce for direct monetary pay. In this study, we examine these dominant, largely Western assumptions from crowdworkers' perspective and turn to a non-Western context to destabilise them. We adopt an inductive research approach using multiple sources of qualitative data including interviews, participant observations, documents review, observation of social media chat rooms and online forums. The study reveals that as they lack organisational, occupational, and professional context and referent, crowdworkers rely on social affirmation in the construction of their work identity. They construct a work identity of who they are that cuts across the boundaries between themselves, the digital work they do, and their social environment. This constructed work identity then frames how they do crowdwork and their relationships with digital platforms and employers. This study advances theories about crowdwork contesting the dominant assumptions and showing that it is not context free, neither it is a simple exchange of labour. Further, it shows that the construction of a crowdwork identity in context plays a significant role in shaping the way this digitally-grounded work is conducted and managed.
... IT usage as a means for communicating and protecting identities has been explored in the contexts of organizational virtual environments (Thatcher et al. 2017), social networking (Underwood et al. 2011;Van Dijck 2013), mobile sharing applications (Abokhodair et al. 2017), assistive technologies (Shinohara and Wobbrock 2016), e-commerce (Kim et al. 2012), and online communities (Da Cunha and Orlikowski 2008;Vaast and Levina 2015). These studies demonstrate IT's role in mediating the processes of self-presentation and self-protection. ...
... Such occupational ideologies may influence work-life balance perceptions towards the positive, despite a work-life balance situation that is not ideal in the eyes of outsiders. Such occupational ideologies have been observed in the context of management consulting (Bouwmeester and Kok, 2018) as well as several other high-status professions (Ashforth et al., 2007;Huey and Broll, 2015;Vaast and Levina, 2015), and are used to neutralise the perception of work-life conflict. ...
Article
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The literature on work-life balance primarily focuses on how individuals cope with high work demands. This study, however, investigates how young professionals experience the work-life balance support offered by organisations. Twenty-four millennial consultants were interviewed to explore their perceptions of work-life balance and organisational support policies in an extreme work context. Twelve consultants worked for strategy houses with an average working week of around 60 hours, while the other 12 worked for general management consultancies with average working weeks of roughly 50 hours. Our comparative findings suggest that overall work-life balance perceptions stay positive in both settings. In strategy houses, where work pressures are highest, reported policies and practices go beyond health programmes, training and coaching, which are the most common work-life balance measures. Strategy houses monitor their consultants’ work-life balance experience weekly, provide options to outsource components of the work, and offer multiple forms of compensation. These further policies are much appreciated. Despite these positive assessments, we also observe an increase of negative work-life balance experiences due to the higher work pressures at strategy houses. There is, therefore, some ambiguity in the work-life balance perceptions of consultants, who recalibrate what are ‘normal’ work demands and reframe and refocus on the bright side of work life. Such occupational ideologies indicate a ‘dirty work’ experience.
... Netography of Unity's online community of users, reflecting prior research on online communities in IS (Koh, et al., 2007;Wilson & Peterson, 2002;Zhang & Storck, 2001;Vaast & Levina, 2015). ...
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We propose a socially-informed explanation of technology framing, by examining technology 'buy-in': actors' relative susceptibility to such framing. We draw on the field of critical social theory to introduce the 'Logics', a new framework to the IS discipline, that reveals a performative relationship between collective framing, power, and affect. The Logics enable us to study buy-in, by revealing the differing degrees of affective self-identification that underpin and colour social practices, showing their inherently political nature. We exemplify the affective, as well as social, politics of buy-in with an account of Unity 3D, a market-leading game engine which underwent a major repositioning from 'fringe' to 'mainstream' markets. We discuss four poles of affective positioning with which to conceptualize technology buy-in. We conclude by highlighting the consequent need for greater political and ethical awareness about the framing of IS, proposing a framework for conceptualizing actors' orientations towards, and thus possible buy-in, or resistance, to technology framing.
... People can share and support one another with these uses of social media but, by doing so, they do not participate in transforming the status quo regarding gender relations in the occupation. They engage in "phatic" communications (Miller, 2008(Miller, , 2017 and support one another (Vaast & Levina, 2015) but do not participate actively in promoting social change in an occupation. ...
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Social media have enabled people to connect with others in unprecedented ways. Existing scholarship has so far provided conflicting insights regarding what people do with these connections. Here I propose that to make sense of what people accomplish with social media-enabled connections, one needs to examine more closely their foundations. Specifically, one key way to understand social media-enabled connections is to consider how social media enable people to come together on the basis of joint social identities. This study focuses on how people use social media in ways that connect them to one another at the intersection of gender and occupational identities, i.e. two social identities that have been central to many organization studies and are critical in today’s societies. The study relies upon the qualitative investigation of how women and gender non-binaries data scientists used social media. The study reveals that, at the intersection of gender and occupation, people use social media to engage in three interconnected processes of promoting inclusion, co-producing equalizing resources, and fostering exclusive enclaves. It brings light to new ambivalence reflected in people’s uses of social media as they seek, simultaneously, to reshape gender dynamics in their occupation and to protect their reputation as competent workers. It unpacks why and how, with social media, the professional and the political have become intertwined.
... In certain instances, OCs are formed on an ad hoc basis in response to an emergency (e.g., Nan & Lu, 2014). OCs may be used to provide "shelter" and a sense of "place", offering opportunities for congenial and stimulating discussions (Panteli, 2016) in a space in which members can freely express themselves (Vaast & Levina, 2015). ...
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In this study, we present the findings from an inductive and interpretive case study of a founder-led online community (OC), exploring how members’ identification develops within the community over time. Using a longitudinal study of an OC that was founded by a reputable individual, it is shown that members were first attracted to the OC through their affective and cognitive identification with the founder; however, over time, they developed identification through social interactions with other members. The findings show that this transformation was enabled by the founder’s communication behavior, which not only led to inspired and engaged members but also to the emergence of new leaders who supported the identification process. The study contributes to the fields of founder-led OCs, identification and emergent leadership in the OC context.
... This technique has been widely adopted by IS scholars (cf. Gasson, 2006;Levina, 2005;Urquhart & Fernández, 2013;Urquhart & Vaast, 2012;Vaast & Levina, 2015). ...
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Lusophone African (LA) multinational enterprises (LAMNEs) are becoming a significant pan-African and global economic force regarding their international presence and influence. However, given the extreme poverty and lack of development in their home markets, many LA enterprises seeking to internationalize lack resources and legitimacy in international markets. Compared to higher income emerging markets, Lusophone enterprises in Africa face more significant challenges in their internationalization efforts. Concomitantly, conducting significant international business research in these markets to understand these MNEs internationalization strategies better can be a very daunting task. The fast-growing rise of social media on the Internet, however, provides an opportunity for international business (IB) researchers to examine new phenomena in these markets in innovative ways. Unfortunately, for various reasons, qualitative researchers in IB have not fully embraced this opportunity. This article studies the use of social media in qualitative research in the field of IB. It offers an illustrative case based on qualitative research on internationalization modes of Lusophone African MNEs conducted by the authors in Angola and Mozambique (2017) using social media to identify and qualify the population sample, as well as interact with subjects and collect data. It discusses some of the challenges of using social media in those regions of Africa and suggests how scholars can design their studies to capitalize on social media and corresponding data as a tool for qualitative research. This paper underscores the potential opportunities and challenges inherent in the use of social media in IB-oriented qualitative research, providing recommendations on how qualitative IB researchers can design their studies to capitalize on data generated by social media.
... In this way, by analysing the excerpts of the interviews in a quantitative way (lexical analysis), it was possible to appreciate, via content analysis, the actual importance of each component of the model in the financial inclusion of the riverine population under analysis, as was done in other papers Vaast & Levina, 2015). ...
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The challenge in offering public services in less developed areas in Brazil has mobilized the government in search of new and creative approaches that can reduce major interregional disparities, including lack of access to the financial system, which is the prevailing situation on Marajó Island in the state of Pará in the Brazilian Amazon. To transform this reality, an information and communication technology (ICT)–equipped travelling bank branch installed on a boat—named Agência Barco—was designed for the purpose of meeting the financial needs of the riverine population that lives in a vast territory with low population density, marked transportation difficulties, and a limited supply of ICT. Thus, this research aims to assess the impact of this bank boat in the financial inclusion of a riverine population of Marajó Island in the state of Pará, which is the unit of analysis of this work. The research outcomes indicate that Agência Barco, via ICT, has partially managed to provide access to financial products and services that might be of interest to the riverine population of Marajó Island. However, the lack of basic financial education and context‐based issues related to the ICT infrastructure has been obstacles to the financial inclusion of this riverine population. Finally, the absence of involvement of local people in this endeavour has not stimulated dynamics of empowerment and participation that could lead to sustainable financial inclusion.
... Informed by past research aimed at capturing practices through interviews (Mazmanian 2013;Nicolini 2011;Scott and Orlikowski 2014;Vaast and Levina 2015), we conducted informal, open-ended and unstructured interviews to collect as much detail as possible by listening carefully to participants' 'stories' around their use of social media as part of their everyday lives (Kaplan and Orlikowski 2013). We began each interview by stating that an ideal conversation would allow the participant to tell us about her/his typical social media session, involving actively creating online content (tweeting or re-tweeting, as well as uploading pictures, sharing the 'mood of the day', commenting, 'liking' and so on, depending on the social media adopted), and observing others' online practices such as reading feeds and scanning second degree connections; for instance, on Facebook looking at "friends of friends", browsing others' 1 75% of the participants in our study are US citizens or permanent residents. ...
... Thus, he decided to avoid using direct quotes from online discussion because it might be possible, at least in the future, to find the original posting with the direct quote. Some other researchers, such as Vaast and Levina (2015) followed less strict reporting style and aimed to maintain the anonymity of the site and the participants by using pseudonyms. In rare occasions researchers have decided that there has been no need to use pseudonyms for the participants because they knew that their comments were publicly available. ...
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Netnography is a relatively new research method, which adapts research techniques of ethnography to study cultures and communities through computer-mediated communications. It has become a popular research method in marketing research during the early 21st century. However, the use of netnography in the field of information systems (later referred as IS) has not been studied to great extent. Thus, we have conducted a systematic literature review to investigate the ethical practices of netnographic research in the field of IS. To analyse the ethical practices of netnographic research and discussion surrounding it, we have collected 52 articles which use netnography either as their sole research method or as their completing research method. These articles were selected from 77 IS journals. Our findings indicate that netnography is an emerging research method which is still searching the shape of its ethical guidelines. Researchers, who use netnography, do not completely agree on the ethically just manner of conducting netnography. However, it is apparent that certain ways of conducting netnography are often considered to be ethically just where as some other ways might be often considered to not be ethically just.
... (06/16/2010). Other tweets called for a boycott of BP in a strong manner and seemed to indicate catharsis through electronically mediated communication (similar to Da Cunha and or Vaast and Levina (2015)) (see, e.g., "If You're Not Outraged, You're Not Paying Attention! ===BOYCOTT BP NOW=== @Greenpeace @greenpeaceuk @greenpeaceusa #oilspill," 05/20/2010). ...
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This research questions how social media use affords new forms of organizing and collective engagement. The concept of connective action has been introduced to characterize such new forms of collective engagement in which actors coproduce and circulate content based upon an issue of mutual interest. Yet, how the use of social media actually affords connective action still needed to be investigated. Mixed methods analyses of microblogging use during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill bring insights onto this question and reveal in particular how multiple actors enacted emerging and interdependent roles with their distinct patterns of feature use. The findings allow us to elaborate upon the concept of connective affordances as collective level affordances actualized by actors in team interdependent roles. Connective affordances extend research on affordances as a relational concept by considering not only the relationships between technology and users but also the interdependence type among users and the effects of this interdependence onto what users can do with the technology. This study contributes to research on social media use by paying close attention to how distinct patterns of feature use enact emerging roles. Adding to IS scholarship on the collective use of technology, it considers how the patterns of feature use for emerging groups of actors are intricately and mutually related to each other.
... Since their original conceptualization (Star and Griesemer 1989), boundary objects have been widely discussed by scholars of various disciplines (Zeiss and Groenewegen 2009), using the concept to investigate multiple knowledge sharing issues and in particular, those related to contexts where organizational actors struggle with mobilizing knowledge across different professional and occupational communities (cf. Abbott et al. 2013;DiBenigno and Kellogg 2014;Hsiao et al. 2012;Levina and Vaast 2013;Lewis and Usher 2016;Vaast and Levina 2015). ...
... 6. Where Grandy and Mavin pull on the research of Stanley et al. (2014) and Vaast and Levina (2015) to highlight how over time high-prestige occupations (banking) and those who perform them can become stigmatized. ...
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The previous chapters highlight the influence of stigmas in the workplace at three different levels—mirco/individual, meso/group-occupational, and macro/organizational. The chapters provide background, analysis, and a deeper holistic understanding of the application of stigma theory to the organizational environment. The authors illustrate in their analyses the complexity of stigmas. As we reflected on the contributions in this book, four themes resonated throughout the book—(1) no one reason for stigma or solution to it; (2) emotions, embodiment, and the material nature of stigmas; (3) transferability and removability of stigma; and (4) context-specific nature of stigmas. From each of these areas, unanswered questions remain, which in turn provide avenues for new research as it relates to stigma, work, and organizations. In this chapter we discuss each of these areas and hope that you are struck by something that triggers an interest for future pursuit.
... Only a small number of papers used qualitative data directly gathered from social media platforms (e.g. Ameripour et al., 2010;Germonprez & Hovorka, 2013;Payton & Kvasny, 2012;Vaast et al., 2013;Vaast & Levina, 2015). ...
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The emergence of social media on the Internet provides an opportunity for information systems researchers to examine new phenomena in new ways. However, for various reasons qualitative researchers in IS have not fully embraced this opportunity. This paper looks at the potential use of social media in qualitative research in information systems. It discusses some of the challenges of using social media and suggests how qualitative IS researchers can design their studies to capitalize on social media data. After discussing an illustrative qualitative study, the paper makes recommendations for the use of social media in qualitative research in IS.
... Since their original conceptualization (Star and Griesemer 1989), boundary objects have been widely discussed by scholars of various disciplines (Zeiss and Groenewegen 2009), using the concept to investigate multiple knowledge sharing issues and in particular, those related to contexts where organizational actors struggle with mobilizing knowledge across different professional and occupational communities (cf. Abbott et al. 2013;DiBenigno and Kellogg 2014;Hsiao et al. 2012;Levina and Vaast 2013;Lewis and Usher 2016;Vaast and Levina 2015). ...
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This paper explores how individuals living within high-stakes precarious categories navigate their identity within online spaces. Using Membership Categorisation Analysis, we investigate how categorical inferences are indexed by those individuals within online biosocial communities in everyday speech, as part of their construction of identities. More specifically, we analyse online interactions of women who have been identified as carrying a BRCA gene mutation in an online biosocial community. Our findings show how (1) the online spaces participate in constituting and sustaining a form of collective responsibility, where those who are within a high-stakes precarious identity category are expected to not only support and educate each other, but also monitor the compliance to category predicates, and (2) the tensions and conflict in making sense of, belonging to, resisting and sustaining a category membership often occur when there are clashes with the socio-moral order. Overall, this paper’s contributions are twofold, first, methodologically, the use of Membership Categorisation Analysis provides an insightful analytic approach to identities, online communities and their organisation. Second, the emerging tensions identified provide insight into the complex ways in which online communities offer a forum in managing precarious identity as individual and collective life intersect.
Chapter
The rapid change in technology which is the hallmark of the workplace in the twenty-first century has given rise to unique challenges to Human Resource (HR) Management, not least in the frontline interaction with the outside world such as recruitment and selection. Applicant vetting may go beyond a reference check as technology now gives professionals access to much more information than ever before. For example, as prospective employees as well as applicants often have both personal and professional social network accounts, HR practice has to be expanded from what is possible to what is ethically and morally appropriate – especially when the law is one step behind these rapid changes. In other words, the amount and accuracy of the information that is submitted for the position by applicants is not the main issue anymore. An important concern regards the extent to which HR professionals and other individuals involved in recruitment and selection seek out information online to obtain further information via means (such as websites and social media) that cross both legitimate and ethical boundaries. The following overview and learning exercise provides an opportunity for students to learn and reflect on these issues. We conclude the sections with two lists, one for references cited in the overview and another that includes additional reading suggestions.
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The paper explores the emergence of organizational scandals on social media, and how the communicative dynamics of such scandals evolve as a social drama. I propose that when whistleblowers utilize information technologies to expose evidence of organizational misconduct, they, and their audiences, engage in meta- organizational discourse: The reflexive – immediate and durational – interactions through which organizational stakeholders instigate organizational scandals on social media, negotiate the normative boundaries of whistleblowing, and (de)legitimize the act of disclosing managerial transgressions online. I examine an organizational scandal embedded in the recent wave of workers’ unionization struggles in Israel in which whistleblowers performed the role of investigative journalists by posting a video on YouTube exposing a senior manager trying to dissuade workers from joining the union. Following that, on workers’ unionization Facebook pages, union supporters and opponents vigorously deliberated the intentions and consequences of publicly shaming their manager and damaging the reputation of their company. Analyzing workers’ discourse suggests that participants from both sides experienced the scandal as something that affected all company employees. They acknowledged the high visibility of their social drama and recognized the potential impact of whistleblowing online across organizational spatial and temporal boundaries.
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Given repeated upheavals in jobs and organizations, people increasingly share career-related knowledge in open online platforms. Dealing with career-related knowledge in an open online setting, though, is challenging. It requires people to balance between exchanging too much and too little career-related knowledge, e.g., to disclose and share the right knowledge without jeopardizing themselves. This study examines how participants achieve such delicate balance in open online processes. It investigates discussions in a career advice-focused online platform. Findings reveal how open online career-related exchanges include sequences of knowledge sharing, knowledge evaluating, and of diverting. They also include sequences of regulating openness that involve securing opacity for the people participating while also ensuring the transparency of the process. The study unpacks how participants in an open online setting navigate the dynamic balance between individual opacity and processual transparency. Findings hold implications for scholarship on open organizing, careers, and advice networks, as well as for practice.
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How do professionals attempt to restore their credibility when it has been tarnished by crises or scandals? To address this issue, we examined how banking professionals who testified during a government inquiry into the 2008 banking crisis in Ireland responded when confronted with negative social evaluations (NSEs) evidenced by personal criticism of their judgment, competence, or morality. We find that professional credibility is renegotiated through two processes: depersonalization and personalization. Testifiers distanced themselves from criticism through a depersonalization process by which they reoriented the unfolding narrative toward broader collectives such as their own profession, adjacent professions, and the macroeconomic environment. They also engaged in a personalization process by which they showcased individual efforts to improve their work processes and outcomes to bolster their professional credibility. Our work theoretically elaborates the view of NSEs as being socially constructed and brings the role of professional credibility of individuals to the fore of the NSE literature. In doing so, it offers a broader perspective on the repertoire of criticisms and responses associated with NSEs than that documented by prior studies, and it emphasizes how professionals seek to reassert their credibility. We also present a less deterministic view of public inquiries.
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The growing availability of digital trace data has generated unprecedented opportunities for analyzing, explaining, and predicting the dynamics of process change. While research on process organization studies theorizes about process and change, and research on process mining rigorously measures and models business processes, there has so far been limited research that measures and theorizes about process dynamics. This gap represents an opportunity for new information systems research. This research note lays the foundation for such an endeavor by demonstrating the use of process mining for diachronic analysis of process dynamics. We detail the definitions, assumptions, and mechanics of an approach that is based on representing processes as weighted, directed graphs. Using this representation, we offer a precise definition of process dynamics that focuses attention on describing and measuring changes in process structure over time. We analyze process structure over two years at four dermatology clinics. Our analysis reveals process changes that were invisible to the medical staff in the clinics. This approach offers empirical insights that are relevant to many theoretical perspectives on process dynamics.
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Techlash encapsulates a breaking point reached with the critique of technology companies. To investigate how this whirlwind of rage, inquiry, and accountability affects the lives of tech workers, we conducted interviews with 19 tech workers. Our methodological approach and contribution adopts a style of writing and analysis associated with anthropologist Kathleen Stewart, where we focus on the affective textures of everyday life in an attempt to redirect the temptation to representational thinking to a slowed ethnographic practice. This paper dwells on the affects of tech workers facing critique and scrutiny. Through this approach, we find that emotional habitus conditions the possibilities of personal and political action and inaction in response to critique. By emotional habitus, we refer to the emotional dispositions honed among tech workers by tech culture's rationality and optimism. This habitus must shift if people are to access new ways of relating and acting. We argue for more fruitful attitudes and practices in relation to critique.
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In this paper, we present a process model exploring the roles played by digital technologies (DTs) in the organization of collective action (CA) of social movements (SMs) at different points in their lifecycles. The process model, which is based on an exploratory case study of the Italian Five Star Movement, relates the environmental conditions to the working logic, structure and use of DTs at three different stages of the SMs. We explain how these choices are adopted at each stage to address internal and environmental challenges and how they create further challenges to be addressed to pass to the next stage. We further explore the dynamics between the logic of connective and collective action and reflect on the growing need for structures and control. By so doing, our work addresses the need for a better understanding of the coevolution between DTs and organizational structures and of the ways in which DTs are used to mobilize people to sustain CA along the SM lifecycle.
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This presentation, delivered at University Estacio de Sa, in Vitoria, ES, Brazil, summarizes the results of a study aimed at the use of social media in qualitative research in the field of International Business (IB). It offers an illustrative case based on qualitative research on internationalization modes of LAMNEs conducted by the authors in Angola and Mozambique using social media to identify and qualify the population sample, as well as interact with subjects and collect data. It discusses some of the challenges of using social media in those regions of Africa and suggests how scholars can design their studies to capitalize on social media and corresponding data as a tool for qualitative research. This presentation underscores the potential opportunities and challenges inherent in the use of social media in IB-oriented qualitative research, providing recommendations on how qualitative IB researchers can design their studies to capitalize on data generated by social media.
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In this paper, we focus on how firms engaged in enterprise systems (ES) implementations absorb knowledge from consultant companies. We take a practice-based view of absorptive capacity (AC) and focus on how prior-related knowledge-a necessary condition to absorb new external knowledge-is created (when it is lacking). We therefore move from the traditional positivistic approach to AC to a more nuanced and practice-based approach of the construct, involving materiality and power considerations. We contribute to the IS literature by providing an account of AC that departs from the deterministic and outcome-focused approach that has characterized past studies and propose a view that accounts for everyday practices.
Chapter
The rapid change in technology which is the hallmark of the workplace in the twenty-first century has given rise to unique challenges to Human Resource (HR) Management, not least in the frontline interaction with the outside world such as recruitment and selection. Applicant vetting may go beyond a reference check as technology now gives professionals access to much more information than ever before. For example, as prospective employees as well as applicants often have both personal and professional social network accounts, HR practice has to be expanded from what is possible to what is ethically and morally appropriate – especially when the law is one step behind these rapid changes. In other words, the amount and accuracy of the information that is submitted for the position by applicants is not the main issue anymore. An important concern regards the extent to which HR professionals and other individuals involved in recruitment and selection seek out information online to obtain further information via means (such as websites and social media) that cross both legitimate and ethical boundaries. The following overview and learning exercise provides an opportunity for students to learn and reflect on these issues. We conclude the sections with two lists, one for references cited in the overview and another that includes additional reading suggestions.
Conference Paper
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Our team has undertaken a study designed to explore the context and content of IT identity in a digital society. The work involves conducting semi-structured, reflective interviews and analysis based on grounded theory, extending prior research on IT identity by investigating the meanings and expectations for behaviour that individuals ascribe to themselves in relation to IT and how these relate to various aspects of their current self-concepts. Our initial findings indicate that our participants have complex relationships with a range of IT. These technologies become embedded in their daily lives, providing evidence in support of IT's role as a medium, determinant, and consequent of identity. Further, we see the emergence of weak and strong IT identities and the emergence of a weak anti-IT identity. By iterating on our processes and reflecting on our results, we have been able to tune our methods and inform future recruitment goals. Moving forward, we expect that expanding the diversity in our group of participants will reveal greater insights into the ways that participation in a digital society influences the formation and expression of one's role, group, personal, and IT (or anti-IT) identities.
Conference Paper
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Our team has undertaken a study designed to explore the context and content of IT identity in a digital society. The work involves conducting semi-structured, reflective interviews—based on the results of a 20 Statements exercise—and analysis based on grounded theory. Our initial findings indicate that our participants have complex relationships with a range of IT that has become embedded in their daily lives, and provide evidence in support of IT’s role as a medium, determinant, and consequent of identity. Further, we see the emergence of weak and strong IT identities and the emergence of a weak anti-IT identity. By iterating on our processes and reflecting on our results, we have been able to tune our methods and inform future recruitment goals. Moving forward, we expect that expanding the diversity in our group of participants will reveal greater insights into the ways that participation in a digital society influences the formation and expression of one’s role, group, personal, and IT (or anti-IT) identities.
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore whether online communities meet their potential of providing environments in which social relationships can be readily established to help patients cope with their disease through social support. The paper aims to develop and test a model to examine antecedents of the formation of virtual relationships of cancer patients within virtual communities (VCs) as well as their effects in the form of social assistance. Design/methodology/research – Data were collected from members of virtual patient communities in the German‐speaking internet through an online survey to which 301 cancer patients responded. The data were analyzed with partial least square (PLS) structural equation modeling. Findings – Virtual relationships for patients are established in VCs and play an important role in meeting patients' social needs. Important determinants for the formation of virtual relationships within virtual communities for patients are general internet usage intensity (active posting vs lurking) and the perceived disadvantages of CMC. The paper also found that virtual relationships have a strong effect on virtual support of patients; more than 61 per cent of the variance of perceived social assistance of cancer patients was explained by cancer‐related VCs. Emotional support and information exchange delivered through these virtual relationships may help patients to better cope with their illness. Research limitations/implications – In contrast to prior research, known determinants for the formation of virtual relationships (i.e. marital status, educational status, gender, and disease‐related factors such as the type of cancer as control variables, as well as general internet usage motives, and perceived advantages of CMC as direct determinants) played a weak role in this study of German cancer patients. Studies on other patient populations (i.e. patients with other acute illnesses in other cultures) are needed to see if results remain consistent. Practical implications – Participants and administrators of patient VCs have different design criteria for the improvement of VCs for patients (e.g. concerning community management, personal behaviour and the usage of information in online communities). Once the social mechanisms taking place in online communities are better understood, the systematic redesign of online communities according to the needs of their users should be given priority. Originality/value – Little research has been conducted examining the role of VCs for social relationships and social networks in general and for patients in particular. Antecedents and effects of virtual social relationships of patients have not been sufficiently theoretically or empirically researched to be better understood. This research combines various determinants and effects of virtual relationships from prior related research. These are integrated into a conceptual model and applied empirically to a new target group, i.e. VCs for patients.
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Dirty work refers to occupations that are viewed by society as physically, socially, or morally tainted. Using exploratory, semistructured interviews with managers from 18 dirty work occupations, we investigated the challenges of being a manager in tainted work and how managers normalize taint—that is, actively counter it or render it less salient. Managers reported experiencing role complexity and stigma awareness. Four types of practices for countering taint were revealed: occupational ideologies, social buffers, confronting clients and the public, and defensive tactics. We discuss links between these practices.
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The identity literature suggests that the stigma of "dirty work" threatens the ability of occupational members to construct an esteem-enhancing social identity. However, research indicates much the opposite, creating a puzzle we attempt to answer. We argue that the stigma of dirty work fosters development of a strong occupational or workgroup culture, which fosters (1) ideological reframing, recalibrating, and refocusing and (2) selective social comparisons and differential weighting of outsiders' views. These defense mechanisms transform the meaning of "dirt" and moderate the impact of social perceptions of dirtiness.
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This research investigates how organizational members respond to events that threaten their perceptions of their organization's identity. Using qualitative, interview, and records data, we describe how members from eight "top-20" business schools responded to the 1992 Business Week survey rankings of U.S. business schools. Our analysis suggests that the rankings posed a two-pronged threat to many members' perceptions of their schools' identities by (1) calling into question their perceptions of highly valued, core identity attributes of their schools, and (2) challenging their beliefs about their schools' standing relative to other schools. In response, members made sense of these threats and affirmed positive perceptions of their school's identity by emphasizing and focusing on their school's membership in selective organizational categories that highlighted favorable identity dimensions and interorganizational comparisons not recognized by the rankings. Data suggest that members' use of these categorization tactics depended on the level of identity dissonance they felt following the rankings. We integrate these findings with insights from social identity, self-affirmation, and impression management theories to develop a new framework of organizational identity management.
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Organizational identity usually is portrayed as that which is core, distinctive, and enduring about the character of an organization. We argue that because of the reciprocal interrelationships between identity and image, organizational identity, rather than enduring, is better viewed as a relatively fluid and unstable concept. We further argue that instead of destabilizing an organization, this instability in identity is actually adaptive in accomplishing change. The analysis leads to some provocative, but nonetheless constructive, implications for theory, research, and practice.
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Social activists increasingly wield the power of the Internet technology to penetrate organizational boundaries and enable social and political change. Yet, research on activism beyond organizational boundaries and the role that new technology may play in it is scarce. This study explores this phenomenon by studying the dynamics of social activism through the Internet for expressing resistance to a powerful organizational regime. We first develop a critical mass approach to online activism to understand longitudinal data (2009-2013) collected from three YouTube-based cases and supplementary interviews. We then integrate the results of within-case and cross-case analyses in a process model that explains how online activism started, generated societal outcomes, and changed over time. The model suggests that online activism helped organize collective actions and amplify the conditions for revolutionary movements to form. Yet, it provoked elites’ reactions such as Internet filtering and surveillance, which do not only promote self-censorship and generate digital divide, but contribute to the ultimate decline of activism over time. We provide a theoretical path for studying the phenomenon of online activism and present opportunities for organizations and social activists to direct online activities’ focus from one being based on the creation of ‘knowers’ to one based on the empowerment of ‘learners’.
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The concept of organizational stigma has received significant attention in recent years. The theoretical literature suggests that for a stigma to emerge over a category of organizations, a “critical mass” of actors sharing the same beliefs should be reached. Scholars have yet to empirically examine the techniques used to diffuse this negative judgment. This study is aimed at bridging this gap by investigating Goffman’s notion of “stigma-theory”: how do stigmatizing actors rationalize and emotionalize their beliefs to convince their audience? We answer this question by studying the stigma over the finance industry since 2007. After the subprime crisis, a succession of events put the industry under greater scrutiny, and the behaviors and values observed within this field began to be publicly questioned. As an empirical strategy, we collected opinion articles and editorials that specifically targeted the finance industry. Building on rhetorical analysis and other mixed methods of media content analysis, we explain how the stigmatizing rhetoric targets the origins of deviant organizational behaviors in the finance industry, that is, the shareholder-value maximization logic. We bridge the gap between rhetorical strategies applied to discredit organizations and ones used to delegitimize institutional logics by drawing a parallel between these two literatures. Taking an abductive approach, we argue that institutional contradiction between field and societal-level logics is sufficient but not necessary to generate organizational stigma.
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Online communities (OCs) are a virtual organizational form in which knowledge collaboration can occur in unparalleled scale and scope, in ways not heretofore theorized. For example, collaboration can occur among people not known to each other, who share different interests and without dialogue. An exploration of this organizational form can fundamentally change how we theorize about knowledge collaboration among members of organizations. We argue that a fundamental characteristic of OCs that affords collaboration is their fluidity. This fluidity engenders a dynamic flow of resources in and out of the community— resources such as passion, time, identity, social disembodiment of ideas, socially ambiguous identities, and temporary convergence. With each resource comes both a negative and positive consequence, creating a tension that fluctuates with changes in the resource. We argue that the fluctuations in tensions can provide an opportunity for knowledge collaboration when the community responds to these tensions in ways that encourage interactions to be generative rather than constrained. After offering numerous examples of such generative responses, we suggest that this form of theorizing— induced by online communities— has implications for theorizing about the more general case of knowledge collaboration in organizations.
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Large-scale online communities rely on computer-mediated communication between participants, enabling them to sustain interactions and exchange on a scale hitherto unknown. Yet little research has focused on how these online communities sustain themselves and how their interactions are structured. In this paper, we theorize and empirically measure the network exchange patterns of long-duration sustainable online communities. We propose that participation dynamics follow specific forms of social exchange: direct reciprocity, indirect reciprocity, and preferential attachment. We integrate diverse findings about individual participation motivations by identifying how individual behavior manifests in network-level structures of online communities. We studied five online communities over 27 months and analyzed 38,483 interactions using exponential random graph (р*) models and mixed-effects analysis of covariance. In a test of competing models, we found that network exchange patterns in online community communication networks are characterized by direct reciprocity and indirect reciprocity patterns and, surprisingly, a tendency away from preferential attachment. Our findings undermine previous explanations that online exchange follows a power law distribution based on people wanting to connect to "popular" others in online communities. Our work contributes to theories of new organizational forms by identifying network exchange patterns that regulate participation and sustain online communities.
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In this paper, we present a longitudinal study of organizational responses to environmental changes that induce members to question aspects of their organization's identity. Our findings highlight the role of organizational culture as a source of cues supporting "sensemaking" action carried out by leaders as they reevaluate their conceptualization of their organization, and as a platform for "sensegiving" actions aimed at affecting internal perceptions. Building on evidence from our research, we develop a theoretical framework for understanding how the interplay of construed images and organizational culture shapes changes in institutional claims and shared understandings about the identity of an organization.
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This study investigates the phenomenon of intensive remedial identity work by exploring responses to the trauma and stigma of adult bullying at work. It analyses the narratives of 20 workers who reported being bullied at work, in which they talk about persistent emotional abuse and their shifting, intensifying identity work in response. The following specific questions are explored: (a) what threats to identity does workplace bullying trigger?; (b) what are the types and remedial goals of identity work?; (c) what is the processual nature of this identity work? Analysis resulted in seven inter-related types of identity work: first-and second-level stabilizing, sensemaking, reconciling, repairing, grieving and restructuring. Each of these was associated with specific identity threats and a constellation of remedial goals. Comparative analysis among self-narratives suggested that identity work occurred in three approximate phases associated with abuse onset, escalation and cessation. Findings extend understanding of intensive remedial identity work in the face of persistently traumatic and stigmatizing organizational experiences.
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This article proposes that media representations of an occupational category may intersect with organizations’ efforts to construct a positive organizational identity and image. We fuse three streams of literature namely, organizational identity and image, media and the social construction of reality, and dirty work to extend extant literature on organizational identity and image. Attention is drawn to occupational image as the position of an occupational category in society. We contend that occupational image is likely to influence the decisions and actions taken by organizations and its members, in particular when the occupation is central to the organization’s mission. Occupational image is partly informed by the media. We analyse one year of media coverage of a dirty work occupation, specifically exotic dancing, and identify various ways in which the media portrays the exotic dancing occupation and the organizations providing these services. We focus upon two of these categories, namely Public (dis) Order and Art and Entertainment. We also draw upon a variety of data from one organization, For Your Eyes Only, to explore how organizational efforts to construct a positive organizational identity (based upon professionalism and legitimacy) and image (based upon fantasy, exclusivity and high quality service) intersect these media representations.
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Based on qualitative field and interview data, this comparative analysis of dirty work by firefighters and correctional officers demonstrates that taint management and its relative utility is inextricably bound to and embedded within macro-level discourses. While firefighters labor to fulfill expectations as “America's heroes,” correctional officers work to squelch images as “professional babysitters” and the “scum of law enforcement.” The authors' analysis illustrates how discourses of occupational prestige and masculine heterosexuality allow firefighters to frame their work in preferred, privileged terms while correctional officers struggle to combat taint discursively associated with low-level feminized care work or with brutish, deviant sexuality. This study extends theoretical understandings of identity construction, dirty work, taint management, and organizational performances of masculinity and sexuality. The authors' analysis concludes with limitations, future directions, and practical applications regarding the potentially dysfunctional results of taint management.
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People generally possess a strong desire to construct positive, dignified work identities. However, this goal may be more challenging for some people, such as blue-collar workers, whose occupations may not offer qualities typically associated with workplace dignity. Interviews with 37 people from a blue-collar mining community reveal three central identity discourses about workplace dignity: All jobs are important and valuable; dignity is located in the quality of the job performed; and dignity emerges from the way people treat and are treated by others. Participants communicated these themes by backgrounding their own occupations and drawing comparisons between two outgroups, low-status, low-paid dirty workers and high-prestige, white-collar professionals. Implications for understanding how identity work is negotiated and for managing a blue-collar workforce are explained.
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In this article we review ethnographic research on the Internet and computer-mediated communication. The technologically mediated environment prevents researchers from directly observing research participants and often makes the interaction anonymous. In addition, in the online environment direct interaction with participants is replaced by computer-screen data that are largely textual, but may include combinations of textual, visual, aural, and kinetic components. We show how the online environment requires adjustments in how ethnographers define the setting of their research, conduct participant observation and interviews, obtain access to settings and research subjects, and deal with the ethical dilemmas posed by the medium.
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Based on three years of ethnographic research in a large, mixed-practice veterinary hospital and semistructured interviews with twenty-two veterinary technicians, this discussion focuses on the work of veterinary technicians, which is, as described by Everett Hughes (1984, 343), “physically disgusting,” “a symbol of degradation,” and “wound(ing to) one’s dignity.” The article briefly describes the vet tech’s career and work activities. The discussion then focuses on how technicians regard and deal with the least appealing of their physical and emotional tasks. Here I emphasize the compensatory role played by the relationships and encounters with nonhuman animals that are central to their work life. The article concludes with an examination of the concept of dirty work and the relationship between dirty work and identity.
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This is a story of how work gets done. It is also a study of how field service technicians talk about their work and how that talk is instrumental in their success. In his innovative ethnography, Julian E. Orr studies the people who repair photocopiers and shares vignettes from their daily lives. He characterizes their work as a continuous highly skilled improvisation within a triangular relationship of technician, customer, and machine. The work technicians do encompasses elements not contained in the official definition of the job yet vital to its success. Orr's analysis of the way repair people talk about their work reveals that talk is, in fact, a crucial dimension of their practice. Diagnosis happens through a narrative process, the creation of a coherent description of the troubled machine. The descriptions become the basis for technicians' discourse about their experience, and the circulation of stories among the technicians is the principal means by which they stay informed of the developing subtleties of machine behavior. Orr demonstrates that technical knowledge is a socially distributed resource stored and diffused primarily through an oral culture. Based on participant observation with copier repair technicians in the field and strengthened by Orr's own years as a technician, this book explodes numerous myths about technicians and suggests how technical work differs from other kinds of employment.
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This article examines the relationship between occupational and individual professionalization through the example of funeral direction. It is based upon an ethnographic study of an accredited mortuary science program at a community college, it compares and contrasts the socialization of aspiring funeral directors in that program to previous case studies of socialization into other self-styled professions. This analysis suggests that the success of occupational socialization in fostering a personal sense of professional distinction depends not so much on an occupation's professional prestige but upon its definitive claim to a distinctive occupational jurisdiction.
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Dirty Work profiles a number of occupations that society deems tainted. The volume's vivid, ethnographic reports focus on the communication that helps workers manage the moral, social, and physical stains that derive from engaging in such occupations. The creative ways that those who perform such dirty work learn to communicate with each other, and with outsiders, regulate the negative aspects of the work itself and emphasize the positives so that workers can maintain a sense of self-value even while performing devalued occupations.
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People cope with threats to their identities in many different ways. Until the original publication of this title in 1986, there had been no theoretical framework within which to analyse their strategies for doing this, or to examine the nature and impact of the threatening experiences themselves. In this elegant and original book, Glynis Breakwell proposes an integrative model which explores the structure of identity and the principles directing its development. Focusing on examples of threat such as unemployment, sexually atypical employment and ethnic marginality, Breakwell examines the relation of the individual to social change. Through her sensitive use of case studies, she enables the victims of threat to speak for themselves about their experiences and feelings. Their reactions illustrate her proposed framework of three levels of coping strategies - intra-psychic, interpersonal and intergroup - and her assessment of the factors which limit the success of such strategies. The case studies also point to new evidence on the effects of unemployment and the impact of youth training schemes at the time. This title would have been essential reading for a range of undergraduate courses in social and abnormal psychology and individual differences, as well as for postgraduate training in clinical and medical psychology at the time. Social workers, counsellors and all those concerned with the care of the sufferers of threatened identities will still find it both informative and influential.
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This chapter is about three highly intertwined concepts. The first concerns occupational communities and the work cultures they nourish. The second concerns the work identities that are valued (and devalued) in such communities and how members of those communities manage to sustain and sometimes enhance these identities in their everyday activities. The third concerns the implications of the first two on organizational control practices and takes up the question of how managers, at least nominally in charge of the work undertaken by members of occupational communities, attempt – with more or less success – to align the identity work of occupational community members with the aims of the organization or organizational segment. Empirically, urban police officers in the U.S. – mainly street cops -- who carry out their tasks within large, complex, hierarchically and functionally segmented organizations of a quasi-militaristic sort are of particular interest and serve as ethnographic examples for the occupational identity work that takes place within organizational settings.
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The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
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We develop a model to explain the process by which corporate failure leads to professional devaluation of individual elites. We envision that corporate failure evokes a stigmatization process, in which society's arbiters engage in constituentminded sensemaking to interpret the conditions surrounding the failure, including the characteristics of the individual elite, and arrive at judgments about the person's blameworthiness. We discuss implications of this research for the study of stigma and stigmatization, as well as "settling-up" in managerial labor markets.
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Occupations often have been defined as belonging to a particular class of work, linked to a single occupational rhetoric. In contrast, I argue here that most occupations are segmented in terms of divisions among workers, among work tasks, and among occupational identities. I present evidence from an ethnographic study of restaurant cooks to demonstrate that workers rely on a variety of occupational rhetorics as resources to define their work and their identity. I claim that cooks draw on the alternative rhetorics of profession, art, business, and labor to shape how they think of themselves as workers. The paper shows that occupational identity is socially, temporally, and spatially situated, raising the question of when particular rhetorical strategies will be relied upon.
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A study of 264 certified public accountants in large public accounting firms showed that when professionals work in a professional-bureaucratic organization, conflict and deprivation result with predictable consequences such as job dissatisfaction and job migration.
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This paper discusses a key development in the use of grounded theory (GT) in information systems (IS) – the use of quantitative data in mixed studies to build on and elaborate theories. We examine the design of one of our research projects and describe how this mixed-design GT project helped elaborate emerging theories using slices of qualitative and quantitative data. Our contributions are threefold: (i) we show that the use of mixed data and techniques can be leveraged to help build credible theories in IS because it allows researchers to build theories of greater abstraction and scope: it helps sense-making in the drive from substantive to parsimonious formal theories; (ii) in line with classic GT, we propose a mixed typological design to help build a pathway to formal grounded theories in rupture with existing literature; and (iii) we highlight GT as a meta-theory of research design and revisit some of its main principles in a mixed-design perspective.
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The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
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While organizational scholars are increasingly interested in issues of identity, identity work, and identification, in-depth empirical studies analyzing the process of identity creation have lagged behind, particularly when such process is triggered by the digitization of a work environment. In this longitudinal case study, we take a social constructionist perspective to investigate the identity creation process of a group of librarians in charge of a new information commons library. We call attention to the dialectic forces underlying this process, emphasizing how the librarians' image, as reflected by the patrons, led the librarians to try multiple provisional identities, which were supported by liminal actions reminiscent of either “who they were” and/or “who they could be.” We also consider how technology was appropriated throughout this dynamic and suggest a technology identification process model that parallels the group identity creation process.
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Anyone who has been employed by an organization knows not every official workplace regulation must be followed. When management consistently overlooks such breaches, spaces emerge in which both workers and supervisors engage in officially prohibited, yet tolerated practices--gray zones. When discovered, these transgressions often provoke disapproval; when company materials are diverted in the process, these breaches are quickly labeled theft. Yet, why do gray zones persist and why are they unlikely to disappear? In Moral Gray Zones, Michel Anteby shows how these spaces function as regulating mechanisms within workplaces, fashioning workers' identity and self-esteem while allowing management to maintain control. The book provides a unique window into gray zones through its in-depth look at the manufacture and exchange of illegal goods called homers, tolerated in a French aeronautic plant. Homers such as toys for kids, cutlery for the kitchen, or lamps for homes, are made on company time with company materials for a worker's own purpose and use. Anteby relies on observations at retirees' homes, archival data, interviews, and surveys to understand how plant workers and managers make sense of this tacit practice. He argues that when patrolled, gray zones like the production of homers offer workplaces balanced opportunities for supervision as well as expression. Cautioning against the hasty judgment that gray zone practices are simply wrong, Moral Gray Zones contributes to a deeper understanding of the culture, group dynamics, and deviance found in organizations.
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Electronically mediated social contexts (EMSCs), in which interactions and activities are largely or completely computer-mediated, have become important settings for investigation by Information Systems (IS) scholars. Owing to the relative novelty and originality of EMSCs, IS researchers often lack existing theories to make sense of the processes that emerge in them. Therefore, many IS researchers have relied upon grounded theory in order to develop new theory based on empirical observations from EMSCs. This article reviews a selected set of papers concerned with grounded IS research on EMSCs. It examines how the authors of these papers handled the characteristics of EMSCs and, in particular, addresses the topics of data collection, data analysis, and theory building. The paper also draws implications and recommendations for grounded researchers interested in investigating these original and fascinating environments in their future work. For example, it calls for grounded researchers on EMSCs to reflect upon the characteristics of their domains of inquiry, to respect the logic of discovery of grounded methods, and to articulate more clearly their theoretical ambitions along the induction/abduction continuum. The paper closes by suggesting promising areas for future grounded research on EMSCs, including taking advantage of the potential for combining qualitative and quantitative analytical methods.
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Editor's Note. Three years ago, I invited Robert (Bob) Gephart to write a "From the Editors" column designed to help authors improve their chances of success when submitting qualitative research to AMJ. Judging from the increasing number of quali- tative studies that have been accepted and pub- lished in AMJ since that time, I would like to think that his article, "Qualitative Research and the Academy of Management Journal," has had a pos- itive impact. Continuing in this tradition, I asked Roy Sud- daby—an excellent reviewer (and author) of quali- tative research—to tackle another "big issue" that the editorial team has noticed with respect to qual- itative submissions to AMJ: overly generic use of the term "grounded theory" and confusion regard- ing alternative epistemological approaches to qual- itative research. Like Bob before him, Roy has, I believe, produced an analysis that will greatly ben- efit those who are relatively new to qualitative re- search or who have not yet had much success in getting their qualitative research published. Hope- fully, Roy's analysis will help even more authors to succeed, thus allowing AMJ and other journals to continue to increase the quality of insights pro- vided by rich qualitative studies of individual, or- ganizational, and institutional phenomena. Sara L. Rynes
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We develop grounded theory about how individuals respond to the subjective experi- ence of performing "necessary evils" and how that influences the way they treat targets of their actions. Despite the importance and difficulty of delivering just, compassionate treatment when it is most needed—when necessarily harming another person—little research has focused on those who must do so. Using qualitative data from 111 managers, doctors, police officers, and addiction counselors, we document how per- formers both engage and disengage when doing these tasks, unearth multiple forms of interpersonal justice, and identify four styles of response for handling necessary evils. Doing harm in order to do good is an inevitable, if unfortunate, feature of organizational life. It is also one of the most psychologically challenging acts a person can be asked to perform. Yet this is precisely what many people are called upon to do at work in order to advance important societal, organizational, and personal objectives. "Necessary evils"—tasks in which a person must knowingly and intentionally cause emotional or physical harm to another human being in the service of achieving some perceived greater good or purpose (Molinsky & Margolis, 2005)—abound in professional con- texts. Managers lay people off to improve organiza- tional performance; doctors perform painful medi- cal procedures to diagnose and cure illnesses; addiction counselors deliver "tough love" to sub- stance-abuse clients to reduce drug dependency; and police officers evict people from their homes to uphold legal principle and landlord rights. Necessary evils pose a serious bind for those called upon to perform them. To do them well,
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� Abstract Information and communication,technologies,based,on the Internet have,enabled,the emergence,of new,sorts of communities,and,communicative practices—phenomena worthy,of the attention of anthropological,researchers. De- spite early assessments,of the revolutionary nature of the Internet and the enormous transformations it would bring about, the changes have been less dramatic and more embedded,in existing practices and power,relations of everyday,life. This review ex- plores researchers’ questions, approaches, and insights within anthropology and some relevant related fields, and it seeks to identify promising new directions for study. The general conclusion is that the technologies comprising the Internet, and all the text and media that exist within it, are in themselves cultural products. Anthropology is thus well suited to the further investigation of these new, and not so new, phenomena.
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This article examines the relationship between occupational and individual professionalization through the example of funeral direction. It is based upon an ethnographic study of an accredited mortuary science program at a community college. It compares and contrasts the socialization of aspiring funeral directors in that program to previous case studies of socialization into other self-styled professions. This analysis suggests that the success of occupational socialization in fostering a personal sense of professional distinction depends not so much on an occupation's professional prestige but upon its definitive claim to a distinctive occupational jurisdiction.