Bullying and the AOM Code of Ethics

Bullying is not mentioned by name in the AOM Code of Ethics. However, principles laid out in the Code make it clear that such behaviors are not appropriate. Members commit to uphold these principles when joining the association. By understanding AOM’s expectations and knowing about the help available for dealing with problematic situations, we can improve our own professional ethics and serve as a resource to others.

  • The principle of responsibility points to the importance of trusting relationships and the necessity of avoiding conflicts of interest that could lead to exploitation or harm.
  • The principle of integrity states that members treat students, colleagues, research subjects, and clients with respect, dignity, fairness, and caring.
  • The principle of respect for people’s rights and dignity affirms the worth of all people and the rights of individuals to privacy, confidentiality, and self-determination. This principle clarifies the expectation for awareness and respect for cultural, individual, and role differences. Members try to eliminate the effect on their own work of biases based on these factors, and do not knowingly participate in or condone activities of others based upon such prejudices. The AOM and its members are committed to providing academic and professional work environments that are free of sexual harassment and all forms of sexual intimidation and exploitation.

AOM’s principles are guideposts for members’ attitudes and actions. The Code of Ethics is enforceable when we are interacting with others in our Divisions or Committees, at conferences or AOM-sponsored events. In other words, we have the right to address any issues we experience or observe.  Review the Policies and Procedures or send an email to the Ombuds Committee with any questions:  ethics@aom.org. While not enforceable outside of AOM activities, the Code articulates aspirational goals that guide us toward the highest ideals of research, teaching, practice, and service.

The annual conference for 2018 focused on Improving Lives, and the conference for 2019 will focus on Inclusion. These themes call us to re-examine our academic and professional lives and recommit to principles articulated in our Code of Ethics.

The following post was previously published on SAGE MethodSpace.

Bullying: Bad for People, Bad for Scholarship

Bully

Bullying in the academic workplace keeps coming up in conversations with faculty and graduate students. I’ve discovered a new term for the safe spaces where people reveal such confidences: hush harbors (Nunley 2011). I would like to think that a commitment to higher education translates into a commitment to acting from a higher calling, but alas, when I find myself in a hush harbor, stories about bullying abound. I’ve had enough first-hand experience to know that these stories are real.

I decided to take a look at the literature—what do researchers find when they study their own workplaces? What strategies do they recommend? This is far from an exhaustive exploration of research on bullying, but hopefully you will find some helpful background on the problem, and tips for preventing or addressing it.

Is bullying endemic to academia?

While bullying is present in all kinds of workplaces, such behaviors are apparently exacerbated by power structures particular to higher education.  One adjunct instructor, frustrated by inaction at her university, observed that “the highly competitive, hierarchical atmosphere of academia is well-known as a fertile breeding ground for bullying behavior” (Anonymous, 2018). While much of this activity is private, unreported, and hidden, the incidence of bullying is much higher in academia than in other professional settings (Hollis, 2013).

Bullying in academic institutions has implications beyond the individual suffering. These behaviors can also create a chilling effect on the important work of academia: to teach and develop future scholars who are respectful of each other and can work across disciplines and diverse cultures to conduct and write about research. Keashly and Neuman (2010) found that intellectual inquiry, independent thought, and reasoned discussion suffer in environments where bullying is allowed to continue without consequence. Victims (and those around them) too often remain silent, in fear of retaliation that could sabotage their graduate studies, opportunities to publish, and/or careers.

What is bullying?

Bullying is a pattern of behavior involving repeated unreasonable actions of an individual or group of individuals toward another, which have the intention of shaming, dishonoring, intimidating, and disheartening, and which create a risk to the health or safety of another (SHARP, 2012). Academic incivility includes rude and disrespectful behaviors such as

  • giving colleagues or subordinates the silent treatment
  • micromanagement
  • constant criticism
  • gossip
  • exclusion
  • patronizing behavior
  • belittling others’ work
  • taking credit for others’ work. (Clark et al., 2013).

In our information-intensive age, many of these forms of bullying can take place online, with repercussions that extend beyond one’s own department. The Internet and social media offer new ways for bullies to transmit harmful text messages, photos, or video, sometimes anonymously (Washington, 2014). It is easy to share private information without permission (Condon, 2014), for example, forwarding personal email, posting someone’s ideas out of context, or distributing work-in-progress shared in an informal setting.

What can we do about bullying? 

All of the writers referenced here discussed the fact that having a policy in place is essential but inadequate. A policy document buried on the university website is useless without ongoing attention to the problems. Wright and Hill (2015) suggest that institutions define and discuss a clear strategy for confidential reporting with impunity for victims, and establish consequences for the perpetrators” (p. 17).  An ombuds office that offers a neutral advice about how to address a situation can be an important component of a holistic campus-wide approach.

Wright and Hill (2015) recommend making collegiality, that is, demonstrating a spirit of community and collaboration, a key component of tenure and promotion requirements and faculty evaluations. Rather than pretend that bullying doesn’t exist, discuss and address incidences of incivility. Mentoring and coaching by chairs or senior faculty, particularly with new faculty and graduate students, can help to communicate expectations and options for dealing with difficult situations (Metzger, Petit, & Sieber, 2015).

At the individual level, speaking up is easier said than done and confrontation with the bully is almost never productive (King & Piotrowski, 2015). Practical advice for individuals includes keeping records of specific incidents, submitting corroborative evidence of incivility or incidents directly to the bully’s immediate supervisor, and documenting any and all complaints (King & Piotrowski, 2015).  Sedivy-Benton et al. (2015) suggest a key survival strategy: detachment from the environment in which bullying occurred and attachment to another positive, supportive environment. In such an environment, a hush harbor, collegiality and productive relationships can take away some of the pressure inherent in a hostile environment.

Karen Pyke, past president of the Pacific Sociological Association, called for sociologists “to embrace our professional responsibilities and apply our scholarly knowledge and commitments to the reduction of inequality in our own workplace. If we can’t do it here, can we do it anywhere?” (Pyke, 2018) Surely her question applies to all disciplines! How will you—and your institution—answer it? Please use the comment area to share relevant studies or strategies.

 

References

Anonymous. (2018). We need a bigger conversation about bullying in academia. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2018/jan/26/we-need-a-bigger-conversation-about-bullying-in-academia

Clark, C. M. (2013). National study on faculty-to-faculty incivility: Strategies to foster collegiality and civility. Nurse Educator38, 98-102.

Collins, N. R., & Rogers, B. (2017). Growing concerns with workplace incivility. Workplace Health & Safety, 65(11), 564-564. doi:10.1177/2165079917719468

Condon, B. B. (2014). Incivility as bullying in nursing education. Nursing Science Quarterly, 28(1), 21-26. doi:10.1177/0894318414558617

Keashly, L., & Neuman, J. H. (2010). Faculty experiences with bullying in higher education: Causes, consequences, and management. Administrative Theory & Praxis32, 48-70.

King, C., & Piotrowski, C. (2015). Bullying of educators by educators: Incivility in higher education. Contemporary Issues in Education Research, 8(4), 257-262.

Metzger, A. M., Petit, A., & Sieber, S. (2015). Mentoring as a way to change a culture of academic bullying and mobbing in the humanities. Higher Education for the Future, 2(2), 139-150. doi:10.1177/2347631115584119

Misawa, M., & Rowland, M. L. (2014). Academic bullying and incivility in adult, higher, continuing, and professional education. Adult Learning, 26(1), 3-5. doi:10.1177/1045159514558415

Nunley, Vorris L. 2011. Keepin’ it hushed: The barbershop and African American hush harbor rhetoric. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University.

Pyke, K. D. (2018). Institutional betrayal: Inequity, discrimination, bullying, and retaliation in academia. Sociological Perspectives, 61(1), 5-13. doi:10.1177/0731121417743816

Sedivy-Benton, A., Strohschen, G., Cavazos, N., & Boden-McGill, C. (2014). Good ol’ boys, mean girls, and tyrants: a phenomenological study of the lived experiences and survival strategies of bullied women adult educators. Adult Learning, 26(1), 35-41. doi:10.1177/1045159514558411

SHARP (Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention) Program. (2012). Workplace Bullying and Disruptive Behavior: What Everyone Needs to Know. Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

Washington, E. T. (2014). An overview of cyberbullying in higher education. Adult Learning, 26(1), 21-27. doi:10.1177/1045159514558412

Interactive & Lively: Ethics Events in Chicago

The AOM Ethics Education Committee believes that dialogue is critical. As scholars, we need to identify ethical dilemmas and figure out how to study them. As students, academics, and practitioners, we need to figure out how to interpret and act on ethical principles.  In both cases we must wrestle with implications for our own professional and personal lives.

We invite all members– including new and student members– to join us for meaningful discussions. After the conference, we will post the insights and practical strategies that emerge from these sessions.

eec-at-aom-2018

  • Integrity Meets Creativity:
    Keeping Honest in Academic Writing 

    PDW Workshop. Session Sponsor(s): (MED)
    Friday, Aug 10 2018 8:00AM – 10:00AM
    at Hyatt Regency Chicago in Gold Coast

    Moderator: Janet E. Salmons, Vision2Lead
    Presenter: Nancy E. Day, Member & Ombuds Ethics Committee Chair
    Presenter: Rebecca Wendy Frankel, Sage Publications Presenter: Rachel McCullagh Balven, Arizona State U.

    Academic writers must find a balance between presenting original work expressed in our own scholarly voices, and situating that work within the literature of the field. This classic challenge is made more difficult in the cut-and-paste digital age. The AOM Code of Ethics and guidelines for scholarly journals clearly discourage plagiarism. While it is essential to avoid plagiarism, this is a low standard for AOM members, who should be making significant contributions to the advancement of our field. This workshop will focus on promoting originality and honesty in research and writing. We will review intellectual property laws relating to copyright and image permissions that can trip up well-intentioned researchers who seek to publish their work. We will frame the discussion using the originality continuum (Salmons, 2007, in press http://bit.ly/2AEnIwb) that differentiates between writing that is unethical, such as plagiarized writing, and writing that is not only ethical, but creative and nuanced.

  • Ethics Forum — Giving Voice To Values: Being Ethical in a Conflicted World

    Sponsor(s): (AAA)
    Saturday, Aug 11 2018 4:00PM – 5:30PM
    at Hyatt Regency Chicago in Plaza A

    AOM Ethics Forum  Organizer: Janet E. Salmons, Vision2Lead
    Presenter: Mary Gentile, U. of Virginia Darden School of Business

    Giving Voice to Values (GVV) is an innovative approach to promoting a higher level of integrity in education and the workplace. Drawing on actual experience as well as scholarship, GVV fills a long-standing and critical gap in the development of values-centered leaders. GVV is not about persuading people to be more ethical. Rather GVV starts from the premise that most of us already want to act on our values, but that we also want to feel that we have a reasonable chance of doing so effectively and successfully. This curriculum is about raising those odds. In this informal session, GVV founder and director Dr. Gentile will explain the rationale and principles behind this empowering approach to developing the ethical muscles – the skills and confidence – required to voice and act on our values.

  • Ethics Forum — The Internet Challenge to Publishing Ethics

    Sponsor(s): (AAA)
    Saturday, Aug 11 2018 5:45PM – 7:15PM
    at Hyatt Regency Chicago in Plaza A

    Organizer: Janet E. Salmons, Vision2Lead
    Presenter: Benson Honig, McMaster U.

    Publishing ethics evolved in the pre-Internet days. They are essentially a codification of best practice, where best practice reflects the publishing infrastructure of the time. Much as has changed. The Internet has made double blind reviewing more difficult. It poses challenges to authors as well as reviewers. Many conferences now demand that your paper has not presented in other conferences. Are you violating ethics if you present a version of your paper twice, to different audiences? Are you violating ethics if you present some of your results in a webinar, blog, or on social media? This open forum with current and former journal editors will offer the opportunity for a lively discussion about emerging ethical dilemmas for researchers who want to publish and present their work in-person and online.

  • Improving Grad Student Lives: Tools for When You Feel Powerless – Power Issues in AOM and Academia 

    Caucus
    Tuesday, Aug 14 2018 11:30AM – 1:00PM
    at Swissôtel Chicago in Rhone

    Organizers: Deborah M. Mullen, U. of Tennessee, Chattanooga and Rachel McCullagh Balven, Arizona State U.

    This caucus invites students and faculty to engage in a discussion about power issues inherent in graduate education, academia, and AOM. Using cases, the session will explore issue reporting, techniques for resolution, and tools for diffusing situations and self-care. Participants are encouraged to bring cases for discussion.

    Special thanks to the College of Business Ethics Education Initiative at Kansas State University for sponsoring events at this year’s conference!

The Ethical Professor: PDW & Book for our times!

Longtime readers of The Ethicist blog will remember the substantive writings contributed by the founders and inaugural blog hosts, Lorraine Eden, Kathy Book coverLund Dean, and Paul Vaaler. This experienced team has now collected, updated, and edited their work into a new book, The Ethical Professor: A Practical Guide to Research, Teaching and Professional Life. Could it come at a more timely moment?

Luckily for AOM 2018 attendees, the writers will offer a lively PDW about contemporary ethical issues for professors–  in research, teaching and professional life. Upcoming, new and experienced professors will benefit from this opportunity!

The Ethical Professor: Practical Advice For Ethics in Research, Teaching And Professional Life
All Academy PDW

Sunday, Aug 12 2018 4:00PM – 5:30PM
at Hyatt Regency Chicago in Columbus AB

Come join us for an interactive and practical conversation about ethical issues in academic life. The PDW, and the book on which it is based, are the direct result of “The Ethicist” blog, an Ethics Education Committee (EEC) and AOM leadership “Strategic Doing” initiative begun in 2011. Lorraine, Kathy and Paul served as The Ethicist’s inaugural authors, writing about ethical issues in research, teaching and professional life.

The Ethical Professor: A Practical Guide to Research, Teaching and Professional Life (2018, Routledge) began to take form in 2015, when we stepped down from writing posts. We realized that our years of working and writing blog posts together had created a synergy when read together, providing a conceptual flow that we believed could move to book form. We also believed that a book on ethics in academia would fill a hole in the available resources to doctoral students and young faculty members on how to navigate the tricky waters of a successful academic career. So we selected the best and most useful of our blog posts, rewrote, and updated them as book chapters to reflect the most recent thinking (as of October 2017) on each topic. We also added new chapters to the book to fill missing holes on key topic areas.

The key theme in the book – and in this PDW – is that academic career paths appear to be quite standard and transparent. However, we argue that there are many ethical pitfalls along the academic life cycle in all three of the metrics by which we are judged: research, teaching and service. The ethical dilemmas that can plague each of the steps along the academic career path are often not visible, are generally not discussed with or by the thousands of faculty in the Academy, and are generally not addressed with training on how to spot and handle these ethical issues.

Our All-Academy PDW will create a space for conversation about ethical issues in academe, bringing some of the content from the book to the AOM membership in an interactive format.

We hope that the PDW will bring together individuals within AOM who are passionate about ethics, to talk about how together we might lessen the ethical pitfalls that face all members of the Academy.

Join the EEC in Chicago for thought-provoking events!

Reflect on what matters at Ethics Education Committee events in Chicago!The Ethics Education Committee will offer five opportunities for discussion of contemporary ethics and social responsibility issues in the classroom, research, publication, and professional life. Please join us for PDWs, a caucus, two focused discussion forum sessions, and our annual business meeting.

We welcome everyone, including students, scholar-practitioners, new, early career or career-changing members, international members, and experienced academics. Say hello at the new member event in the vendor area!

​​PDW: Behavioral Ethics Research

This post is part of an invited series, in an effort to share ethics-related opportunities, news, and projects lead by AOM Divisions, Committees, and members.
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Session #313, Title: “Behavioral Ethics Research: A Third Annual Pecha Kucha Springboard and Networking Session.”  Saturday, August 11, 2018 10:45 AM – 2:45 PM. Location: Sheraton Grand Chicago, Sheraton Ballroom II & III.

Organizers:
Niki den Nieuwenboer (U of Kansas)
Marie Mitchell (U of Georgia)
Linda K. Treviño (Penn State)

The field of behavioral ethics examines the causes and consequences of ethical and unethical behavior within organizations. Buoyed by the organizational scandals that continue to come to light, the field is attracting ever more research interest and is starting to diversify in its theoretical foundations and methodologies. Thus, the behavioral ethics community attracts individuals from a broad range of backgrounds and divisions within the Academy of Management.

To enable the behavioral ethics research community to continue to grow and prosper, for the third consecutive time, we are organizing a PDW that offers a platform for all those interested in (un-)ethical behavior within organizations to congregate, mingle, and exchange research ideas. The first half of the PDW features eight timed 5-minute Pecha Kucha style presentations by established and more upcoming scholars in the field. These presentations highlight a broad range of ideas that the presenters believe will push the field forward. The presentations will be followed by a stimulating plenary discussion.

The second half of the PDW will feature nine roundtable topical discussions, hosted by two to three behavioral ethics experts per table.

While all are welcome to attend the first part of the PDW, we ask those who are interested in also attending the round table discussions to register ahead of time, as we only have limited space per table. There are still a few spots left; so if you are interested please email us at niki@ku.edu.

Presenters and experts:
Bruce Avolio (U of Washington)
Max Bazerman (Harvard)
Jon Bundy (Arizona State U)
Katy DeCelles (U Toronto)
Rellie Derfler-Rozin (U of Maryland)
Ryan Fehr (U of Washington)
Rob Folger (U of Central Florida)
Michelle Gelfand (U of Maryland)
Maryam Kouchaki (Northwestern)
Celia Moore (Bocconi)
Tyler Okimoto (U of Queensland)
Mike Pfarrer (U of Georgia)
Lamar Pierce (U of Washington St. Louis)
Ann Tenbrunsel (Notre Dame)
Elizabeth E. Umphress (U of Washington)
Abhijeet Vadera (Singapore Management U
Marius Van Dijke (RSM Erasmus U).

 

 

Call for Papers: Journal of Business Ethics on Historic Corporate Responsibility

This post is part of an invited series, in an effort to share ethics-related opportunities, news, and projects lead by AOM Divisions, Committees, and members.
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Sins of the Fathers:
Organizations and Historic Responsibility
by Robert A. Phillips, Judith Schrempf-Stirling and Christian Stutz

What are the responsibilities of current managers and the organizations they lead for the actions of long ago predecessors? When historians found that forebears of the U.S. bank Wachovia owned slaves, Ken Thompson, chairman and chief executive officer in 2005, publicly apologized stating, “On behalf of Wachovia Corporation, I apologize to all Americans, and especially to African-Americans and people of African descent“. Wachovia has not been the only company – or even the only bank – to publicly apologize for its history. That same year, J.P. Morgan Chase issued an apology and announced it would provide a $5 million scholarship fund for its role in owning slaves who were used as loan collateral.

In 2011, German fashion company Hugo Boss apologized for its use and harsh treatment of forced labourers during World War II. The company’s public statement stressed “its profound regret to those who suffered harm or hardship at the factory run by Hugo Ferdinand Boss under National Socialist rule.”  Nor is this limited to for profit corporations. In 2017, Yale announced it would rename Calhoun College due to John C. Calhoun’s active support of slavery. While history is in the past, it remains very much in the present. Examples like these raise fundamental questions about the historical actions of organizations and the related responsibility in the present.

We share our history in the form of stories and narratives when we talk about the foundation, origins, developments, changes, and goals of our organizations. Those stories form and express identity and legitimize current activities. Our stories co-create our collective organizational memory. However, stories and narratives are substantially subjective. Due to their own past and experiences and current position, individuals will have different takes on historical and current events – that is, history can be contested. Even when we experience the same event, this does not mean that we think or talk about it in the same way. Different narratives can co-exist about the very same historical events. History, as such, can be a powerful tool. These narratives can be, and often are, used strategically. Non-governmental organizations or activists might (mis-)use history for moralizing purposes to receive greater public attention and support. Corporations may manipulate how the public views past events by sharing only part of the story or discrediting other narratives. Often these organizations are also the stewards of the very documents and artefacts needed to inform our readings of history. Of course, some level of interpretation and selectivity is unavoidable. Examining an organization’s past, how that past is interpreted in the present, and how these sometimes contested interpretations influence today’s managers and organizational stakeholders present fascinating scholarly possibilities.

To provoke and promote deeper examination, we have launched a call for papers for a special issue in Journal of Business Ethics on Historic Corporate Responsibility in which we encourage scholars to consider some of the following pressing questions in relation to organizations and their histories:

  • Can organizations be responsible for the actions of prior generations of leaders and members?
  • What, if anything, can current leaders do to recognize, mitigate or limit responsibility today for past actions?
  • What can leaders today do to affect how they and their organizations are seen in the future? What role can concerns for legacy have in influencing current decisions?
  • What, if any, effect do attempts at re-organization (e.g., acquisition, mergers, bankruptcy, re-branding, changes in leadership, etc.) have on responsibility?
  • Is there a limit to how far back the claims of historic responsibility can go?
  • What would adequate restitution look like? To whom and in what form and magnitude? Can an organization be forgiven? Can an organization apologize and who can accept it?
  • What are the boundaries of past and current organizations? Are there affiliational responsibilities from the past?
  • Who can legitimately speak for the past?
  • What is the role of forgetting and selective memory?
  • What, if any, duty do organizations have to be transparent about their past?
  • Should stigma attach to individuals who were participants in past transgressions? How do we define participants?

Many of our colleagues have been hard at work for many decades within the Academy of Management, particularly within the Management History Division. Tremendous potential remains, however, for exploring how the past continues to affect the sorts of questions that have historically (ahem) been considered part of other domains of the Academy.

Yes, we were hacked!

Image result for hackersIn case you were wondering… we did not write that post about casinos! We were hacked! We are trying to diagnose the problem so hopefully you will not see any more oddball posts.

Voice and academia – when do we speak out?

Voice and academia – when do we speak out?

In his classic work, Hirschman (1970) refers to ‘exit, voice and loyalty”, noting that the easier it is to leave an environment of discontent, the lower the voice. Voice, however, is more helpful, in that it explains decline. Of course, exit from AOM is a rather simple task, we do not have a monopoly on scholarly conferences or journals in management. Yet, recently, there was active and serious discussion including members mentioning leaving, boycotting, and resigning their AOM membership.

On Jan.27, President Donald Trump issued the now familiar executive order restricting and/or banning anyone from 7 different countries from visiting the USA. What followed, in addition to the subsequent court order cancelling this directive, was a stream of protests from various organizations, including Academic organizations, such as the APA, ASA, etc.. I have listed many of these responses at the end of this blog for your reference. In most cases, the language is explicit: restricting travel to individuals according to their national origin went against the values of many of these organizations, and their objection was unambiguous.

The ruling also challenged our own Code of Ethics at AOM:

The AOM ensures that attention is paid to the rights and well-being of all organizational stakeholders.

 AOM members respect and protect civil and human rights and the central importance of freedom of inquiry and expression in research, teaching, and publication.

Further:

Worldview. Academy members have a duty to consider their responsibilities to the world community.

In their role as educators, members of the Academy can play a vital role in encouraging a broader horizon for decision making by viewing issues from a multiplicity of perspectives, including the perspectives of those who are the least advantaged.

Our own president, Anita M. McGahan, weighed in, but unfortunately, her letter lacked the robust character of many of the academies listed below. Rather, she attempted a ‘work around”, and I quote a few paragraphs as follows:

“First, the AOM is suspending the requirement of attendance as a condition of inclusion in the program at the Annual Meeting for those affected by the travel restrictions.  All scholars whose work is accepted to the conference but are not able to enter the United States from travel-restricted countries will have access to sessions in which they are presenting through virtual means.  Second, we will also share with you, via our website, the best information that we have about Visa application processes for those who want to attend.  We encourage any member from the affected countries who wishes to attend but cannot because of travel restrictions to contact us so that we can work with you toward participation”

“The vision of the AOM is to inspire and enable a better world through our scholarship and teaching about management and organizations.  I encourage AOM members to double down on the scholarly agenda. Let us be more engaged, creative, and committed to scholarship and teaching on the issues of our day.  Let us stand together in Atlanta in solidarity with our diverse membership as the world’s premiere association of management scholars and business-school professors.  Academic integrity is our strength.  Through our scholarly discussions and debate, we can find a way forward together.  This is the AOM’s purpose and this cannot and will not change”.

 

Many of members, including myself, wrote letters of protest to our president. We felt it important that AOM make a stand on this important issue. A healthy dialog subsequently ensued on numerous listservs.  It turned out that Anita was constrained by AOM policies that would not allow AOM to take political stands.

The policy was: “The Academy of Management does not take political stands. Officers and leaders are bound by this policy and may not make publicly stated political views in the name of the AOM or through use of AOM resources.”

As a result, I was very pleased to note that AOM policy has changed – albeit subtly, our policy as follows:

The newly amended policy on political stands is: “The Academy of Management does not take political stands. Officers and leaders are bound by this policy and may not make publicly stated political views in the name of the AOM or through use of AOM resources. However, under exceptional circumstances, and with the consensual support of the Executive Committee and in consultation with the Board of Governors, the President is authorized to issue a statement on behalf of the AOM when a political action threatens the existence, purpose, or functioning of the AOM as an organization.” This policy is under embargo for 90 days.

I wish to thank Anita, the Board of Governors, our members who voiced concerns, and all the other members involved for their work in rapidly addressing this important issue head on, by acknowledging that under certain circumstances, voice is important.

While many of us are fortunately enough to live in a democracy, we also are members of a global community of scholars. We have seen what happens when communities of scholars fail to adequately rise up against measures that limit or constrain academic freedom. We need not look far to see this freedom being denied our colleagues in various places, at this very moment. There are times when making a political stand is necessary to meet challenges attacking the very substance of what we do as scholars. While these will hopefully be few and far between, it is important that we acknowledge our own responsibility for voice, least we have only to exit. If nothing else, modifying our rules has engendered more loyalty.

Statements from various associations follow:

http://www.asanet.org/news-events/asa-news/statement-american-sociological-association-concerning-new-administrations-recent-and-future

https://news.aamc.org/press-releases/article/executive-order-immigration-013017/

The AAG:
http://news.aag.org/2017/01/aag-statement-on-president-trumps-executive-order/

APSA

http://www.politicalsciencenow.com/comment-on-apsa-statement-regarding-president-trumps-executive-order-protecting-the-nation-from-foreign-terrorist-entry-into-the-united-states/

COMPtia

https://www.comptia.org/advocacy/policy-issues/immigration/2017/01/30/comptia-statement-on-president-trump’s-executive-order-on-immigration

CRA

http://cra.org/govaffairs/blog/2017/01/cra-expresses-concern-new-executive-order-suspending-visas/

APLU

http://www.aplu.org/news-and-media/News/aplu-statement-on-trump-administrations-new-order-temporarily-banning-citizens-of-seven-countries-from-entering-us

AAUP

http://blog.press.princeton.edu/2017/01/31/statement-on-immigration-order-from-aauparl/

AAAS

https://www.aaas.org/news/aaas-ceo-responds-trump-immigration-and-visa-order

 

 

Educating the educators: Truth and justice in academic publishing

It seems I can’t visit anywhere without hearing harrowing stories of unethical and abusive editors, reviewers, and scholars. Before starting this blog, I would hear the odd tale or two – but now I seem to be ground zero for the often shocking admissions of disgruntled and abused colleagues the world over!

While it would be nice to view these unfortunate confessions as a biased sample, I am beginning to believe that the entire profession harbors within each of us, numerous examples of blatantly unethical conduct, all simmering and waiting to escape as some sort of neurotic or equally unjust retribution. In short, we may be the walking wounded. All of this has to do with our culture of scholarship – we need to carefully ask ourselves, what kind of culture are we promoting, and what are our overall objectives? How can we improve the cultural landscape that we operate in?

Just a few representative examples:

A junior colleague tells me an anonymous reviewer demands a series of coercive self-citations of their own, only tangentially relevant work. They also disclose, in the review, both who they are, along with insinuations that they know exactly who the jr. scholar is. The editor forwards this review with no comment.

A senior scholar reports presenting a paper with a unique novel analysis of public data during a conference. A few months later, she observes a conference paper written by a member of the audience who had attended the talk – utilizing the exact same methods and data.  There is no mention of her paper, not even an acknowledgement. Despite reminding the author of this sequence of events – by sending a copy of the proceedings as a reminder – the paper is eventually published, without a word of recognition, even though the editor is aware of the circumstances.

Dog eat dog…

Finally, we have the ‘curse’ of the special issue editors. These are often the unregulated wild west. I have heard more horror stories than I can relate in this short blog, but they range from ‘tit for tat’ expectations, to outstanding examples of favoritism, nepotism, and cronyism. Editors taking advantage of writing themselves or their friends into special issues is very common. These may represent closed networks of special subject reviewers who are primed   to support primarily insider work – and reject outsider material. Social expectations trump scientific merit, and the entire effort becomes mired in politics.

While these are but a few examples, one begins to suspect that what is published is often not recognition regarding the high quality of the research, rather, it has to do with the social processes underlying how the work is presented. Rather than rewarding the highest quality work – or the most innovative work – we wind up with a kind of replication of the norm. We pat each other on the back regarding out methodological rigor, without really considering the accuracy or consequences of our efforts. No wonder managers in the ‘real world’ seldom pay attention to anything we do.

All of which suggests that we need more transparency in our publication and review process, as well as more insight into the methodological and philosophical rigour we use to approach our work. The idea of double blind is good – as long as it is truly double blind, and the objective is to enhance the quality of the subsequent product. However, all too often, we’re simply going through a well rehearsed process of convincing the editors and reviewers that our work is normative, while they go through the ritual of telling us how to frame an acceptable ‘story’ that meets their standards, irrespective of the accuracy of the work.

In a very insightful article, Bill Starbuck in the  60 year anniversary issue of ASQ points out the inconsistencies in reviewer evaluations, including the problems of submissions from ‘low status institutions’, convoluted formulas, and ambiguous editorial feedback. He also highlights the problems of signalling inherent in language usage, whereby reviewers can identify the origin of any particular manuscript’s authors.

Next, Bill tackles the issue of our efforts to enhance the importance of our work, irrespective of the actual merit, sometimes leading to corrupt methodologies, HARKing (Hypothesizing after results are known) and p-Hacking (subjecting data to multiple manipulations until some sort of pattern emerges) both of which misrepresent the accuracy of the theories discussed. Bill points out that this leads to “a cynical ethos that treats research as primarily a way to advance careers”.

Bill concludes that cultural changes are needed, but that they happen only slowly. Senior scholars must take a very visible lead – editors and reviewers alike. In the end, it’s really a matter of education.

I fully agree with Bill – we need to start looking at ourselves carefully in the mirror, stop quoting our individual H indexes, and begin the difficult task of educating ourselves regarding how to advance our scientific capabilities.

 

 

 

 

When journal editors are unprofessional

I recently read a NY times article highlighting an obvious conflict, when stock analysts own stock or options in the companies they are evaluating, or retain close ties with  those companies. It’s kind of horrifying to think that what is regarded as objective, unsolicited advice, may really be individuals trying to ‘game’ the system, by pushing up the price of their options for personal gain. Of course, that’s Wall Street, we’ve seen it before, and I’m sure we’ll see it again. But it got me thinking – what about journal editors?

Journal editors make decisions, often with considerable career implications, but their relationships – with the persons they evaluate, or the way they make decisions – is entirely opaque. It’s not like there’s some sort of appeals board one can go to if one thinks they have been slighted by an editor who bears a grudge against an author, their university, or even the theoretical or methodological paradigm they are writing about. This opens up not only questions of abuse of power and self interest, but also of due process.

We all want to think that the blind review process is objective – but what about the reviewer selection?  What about other practices? I don’t have to go far to find a litany of editor’s abusive activities. Just scratching the surface, we find the ‘tit for tat’ exchange – “ I will publish your paper in my journal, with the expectation that you will reciprocate with a publication your journal”. The special issue editor, that always seems to publish good friends and colleagues from their particular sphere of influence. Special issue editors are a particular problem, as they seem to go relatively unregulated. These practices effectively reduce the probability of a general submission being accepted, as there are few slots allocated to the genuine public of scholars. We also have coercive citations abuse, whereby the editor informs the author that they need to cite their journal (to improve the impact factor) in the editor’s R&R letter.  And, of course, we have the form letter rejection, sometimes not even reflecting the contents of the paper submitted, or addressing the material in a way demonstrating that the editor actually read anything.

What I find particularly surprising is that there is virtually no recourse. Many of us have experienced egregious editorial injustice, yet we simply grin and bear it. Students, on the other hand, seem to have figured out a way to vent their frustrations is a way that might, perhaps, temper the worst of academic injustice. Sites like ‘rate my professor’ allow students to voice their anger and frustration at what they view to be unjust or unprofessional activities. While I am the first to acknowledge that the site is relatively un-monitored and subject to potential biases and abuse – at least it provides a forum.

Academy of Management journals maintain a fairly transparent editorial policy, limiting the tenure of editors, and opening up nominations to our membership. This is good practice. Why don’t ALL journals publish a code of editorial ethics? Why don’t they ALL consider grievance procedures? Where is our academic forum? Why is it that we academics, have not devised a site to discuss perceived biases, unprofessional behavior, and irresponsible editing? I know, from talking with colleagues, that most of us have experienced unprofessional and sometimes outright unethical practices. Yet, we sit silently, submitting our papers to yet another journal, hoping for a fair evaluation at another venue. Meanwhile, some editors, even those demonstrating deeply abusive practices, are professionally rewarded.

Is there something we can do?  Does anyone have a suggestion? Or, are we all ‘happy campers”?