Student recommendations redux– more conversation about this!

Key Insight: My last column on writing letters of recommendation (LOR) for students has generated more ideas, experiences and potential ethical issues! Here, I consider LOR requests from long-graduated students who contact you (sometimes out of the blue); the online recommendation phenomenon, such as with LinkedIn, that utilizes ‘blanket’ or generalized LORs; potential legal issues about what we say in LORs with respect to privacy laws, including what might change for us writers when students can examine our letters before we send them; and finally, an ethical issue raised by different cultural interpretations of what’s OK. Let’s go!

Student recommendations: to give, or not to give, that is the question!

Key Insight: Although writing letters of recommendation may be a common task, there is much more to these letters than meets the eye! This column explores ethical aspects of letters of recommendation and invites your comments about your experiences.

Happy Birthday! Taking Stock of THE ETHICIST’s First Year

KEY INSIGHT:  THE ETHICIST has been running as a blog on AOM Connect for a year now so it makes sense for its creators and bloggers to take stock of what the blog has (and has not) accomplished over the past year, and to think creatively about how to move ahead.  We will hold a Caucus session, “THE ETHICIST: THE INFORMAL ECONOMY AND SCHOLARSHIP, TEACHING AND PROFESSIONAL LIFE ETHICS,” to discuss this issue at the Boston AOM annual meetings in August 2012. Please join us!

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Ethical Issues in Professional Life: Outside Appointments

The Producers Problem

One of my favorite movies is The Producers, and here I mean the original version from 1968 directed by Mel Brooks and starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder (not the 2005 re-make starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick).  For those of you unfamiliar with this comedy, here is the basic plot.  A ne’er-do-well Broadway director (Mostel) and his accountant (Wilder) hatch a scheme to make money by producing a play that flops.  The duo will go to backers and raise thousands more than is needed to produce a play.  Of course, they’ll have to sell more than 100% of the profits to raise all of that money, but as long as the show flops –preferably closes on opening night– the backers will expect neither the return of their invested principal nor any profits.  The duo can take the remaining money and head to Rio de Janeiro.  Ah, but if the play is a hit then they’re in big trouble, because they’ve promised much more than 100% of the profits to the backers.[1]  Of course, they end up inadvertently producing a hit musical comedy (improbably titled “Springtime for Hitler”), which lands them in jail for fraud, where they start producing and over-selling yet another musical (more appropriately titled “Prisoners of Love”).  That’s Mel Brooks.

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Help! My students want to friend me! Boundaries, relationships and the “yuck” factor in professor—student interactions

The semester ended a week ago, with the usual flurry: exams, grading crunch, and anxious seniors making sure they passed my section of their capstone strategy course. But this semester, the end of the semester also brought something new: Facebook ‘friending’ requests from my soon-to-be ex-students. They want to keep in touch, they say, and Facebook (FB) has become the default mechanism to do so. I got friend requests this semester for the first time because I QUITE belatedly have created my own FB page. At the time of Facebook’s IPO, the site had about 845 million users. I was probably number 844,999,000 to sign up, just opening my page in January of this year. Getting on Facebook has been a true event for me, having easily resisted the pull of FB since its inception about eight years ago. Do I need another thing to do, really??

Slicing and Dicing: Ex Post Approaches

Blog No. 2012-03 (May 4, 2012)


KEY INSIGHT:  In my February 2012 THE ETHICIST: RESEARCH posting, I discussed an important issue facing researchers: How do authors determine whether the papers coming out of one project are sufficiently different from one another so that they can be considered to be new papers? In my earlier posting, I looked at ex ante methods that authors could use to determine whether a paper was sufficiently new. Here I follow up with ex post methods for determining novelty; that is, once the paper has been written and submitted for review, how can reviewers and editors be assured of its originality?

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Peer Reviewing

Incredible Generosity

December is supposedly the “holiday” month of gift-giving, but recent experience as a track chair for the 2012 Academy of International Business (“AIB”) annual meeting tells me that the real gift-giving time, at least professionally, is from mid-January to mid-February.  It was during those weeks that so many of my AIB peers gave their time and attention to read and review more than 150 papers submitted to my track for competitive or interactive presentation at this summer’s annual meeting in Washington, DC.  My goal was to get multiple reviews for every submission and get them in about four weeks. Virtually every AIB member submitting a paper got a paper.  Several got more than one paper to review.  More than a few got several papers from me, from other AIB track chairs, and from our counterparts over at the Academy of Management.  Four weeks later, practically everyone had submitted their reviews, whether it was just one or several from those “overfished” reviewers.  It was amazing to observe.  And it’s critically important to preserve and nurture.  So that’s my topic for the month:  peer review and its importance in our professional lives; peer review and the motivations of peer reviewers; and how we might do a little less  “overfishing” of some especially good and generous peer reviewers.  Continue reading “Peer Reviewing”

What do we do when students despair? Considering pedagogical caring

I graded my strategy students’ first position/reaction paper late last week. As is usually the case on the first one, students do quite poorly, not making the conceptual leap from summarizing the contents of the article to which they had to respond, to making supported judgments about the article’s assertions. It’s a complex learning process, and as such I offer extensive handouts and scaffolding to lower their anxiety level. While the mean score is usually a low ‘C’ on the first paper, one student simply.. how should I say it.. bombed the assignment. “Bob” [not his real name, and he knows I am writing about this] did not follow any of the directions for either content or structure, and appeared to have no grasp of the assignment’s intent.

Slicing and Dicing: Ex Ante Approaches

Blog No. 2012-02 (February 2, 2012)

Key Insight:  Research projects are often huge undertakings that lead to more than one publication. How do authors determine whether the papers coming out of one project are sufficiently different from one another to be considered new papers?  In this blog, I look at some ex ante methods that authors can use to determine whether a paper is new.

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Managing University Service Work

Blog No. 2012-01 (January 1, 2012)  

Another Year and Another Hemisphere of Professional Life

Welcome to a new year, new semester and a new posting from The Ethicist.  When writing last October, I promised to explore ethical issues in the very broad sphere of professional life, the part of our work neither falling neatly into research nor teaching.  It’s the sphere of “everything else” that can be divided into hemispheres related to issues arising from membership in professional organizations like the Academy of Management and issues arising from membership in academic or research institutions.  Last October, I wrote about an ethical issue arising from our work in professional organizations.  This time, I thought I would travel to the other hemisphere and discuss an ethical issue more commonly (for me) encountered in academic departments, colleges and universities.  The topic is service and the issue is knowing when to say no.

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