best org. theory papers of 2012

I have a bleg. What do you think are the best organizational theory papers published in a sociology or management journal in 2012?  I’m on a nominations committee and I don’t want to miss anything.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

Written by brayden king

April 29, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Posted in academia, brayden, research

15 Responses

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  1. For sure, Lauren Rivera’s “Hiring as Cultural Matching” (ASR 77(6): 999-1022) has to be on your list already. As it turns out, Susan Silbey’s chapter on “holding spots after shoveling” is only published in 2012 (“J. Locke, op. cit.: Invocations of Law on Snowy Streets,” Journal of Comparative Law, 2010, Vol. 5(2): 66-91). Just the first two that spring to mind.


    Jenn Lena

    April 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm

  2. Lauren Rivera’s “Hiring as…” gah! OK, Elizabeth Pontikes’ “Two sides of the same coin.”



    April 29, 2013 at 5:04 pm

  3. Agreed on “Hiring as Cultural Matching”. Amazing paper.



    April 29, 2013 at 8:56 pm

  4. omg. i live in a completely different world it seems.



    April 30, 2013 at 12:05 am

  5. anon – please share your alternative nomination. I’d love to hear other perspectives.


    brayden king

    April 30, 2013 at 12:58 am

  6. I always feel that the quickest way to locate the very best recent articles is to visit ASQ’s “Editor’s Choice” collections at Why, a student could do an instant lit search here on mobilization and entrepreneurship, gender and inequality, diffusion and abandonment of practices, status, social movements and institutions… And a professor seeking an instant doctoral syllabus could just include 4-5 articles from each topic — the course would teach itself.



    April 30, 2013 at 1:20 am

  7. A particularly good one is Ethan Bernstein, “The Transparency Paradox: A Role for Privacy in Organizational Learning and Operational Control” (ASQ 57: 181-216). Ethan hired a half-dozen Chinese undergrads from Harvard to work as “embeds” in a phone factory in Shenzhen to understand the nature of work on the line, then implemented a field experiment there finding a kind of reverse Hawthorne Effect. Really fine study.



    April 30, 2013 at 1:27 am

  8. Cool study.

    Hawthorne Effect doesn’t exist though.

    The alleged inefficiency of the QWERTY keyboard versus Dvorak is another Scientific Legend which appears entirely made up.


    Graham Peterson

    April 30, 2013 at 5:15 am

  9. How about Rao and Dutta’s article on Weapons of the Weak in the Dec ASQ? I suggest this for its novelty as much as how it advances the social movements literature.



    April 30, 2013 at 2:09 pm

  10. I seem to be in the minority on the “cultural matching” paper, but the big takeaway seems to be something like people hire those they click with. Is that all there is to it? Dressing it up in some fancy theory makes it sounds a bit more sophisticated, but I’ve read the article 2x and the eureka moment hasn’t come yet. No offense to Professor Rivera, but I thought this was one of the more underwhelming studies published in American Sociological Review last year.

    If you’re looking for an excellent org theory nomination, check out “Modeling How to Grow: An Inductive Examination of Humble Leader Behaviors, Contingencies, and Outcomes” published by Owens and Hekman in the AMJ last year.



    April 30, 2013 at 2:09 pm

  11. An interesting case study:

    Catherine J. Turco’s “Difficult Decoupling: Employee Resistance to the Commercialization of Personal Settings”. AJS, 118(2), 380-419.

    Also vote for:

    Ethan Bernstein, “The Transparency Paradox: A Role for Privacy in Organizational Learning and Operational Control” (ASQ 57: 181-216). with some fun data (


    Jianhua Ge

    April 30, 2013 at 2:31 pm

  12. I love those ASQ Editor’s Choice collections. More journals should do that.

    Shameless plug for a great piece by my colleagues that might be off the radar of most sociologists:
    Howard E. Aldrich and Tiantian Yang. 2012. “Lost in Translation: Cultural Codes are not Blueprints.” Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 6: 1-17.


    neal caren

    April 30, 2013 at 4:29 pm

  13. Do Scott Rose’s thousand word vituperations count as papers?



    April 30, 2013 at 6:01 pm

  14. I thought Kleinbaum’s ASQ made a really nice theoretical contribution by addressing the contradiction between the categorical imperative (have a focused identity!) and the returns to brokerage (span disconnected clusters of individuals!). Those two arguments have always been somewhat dissonant in my mind.



    April 30, 2013 at 7:56 pm

  15. Here are two 2012 org theory papers I liked:

    Phanish Puranam, Marlo Raveendran, and Thorbjørn Knudsen. (2012). Organization Design: The Epistemic Interdependence Perspective. ACADEMY OF MANAGEMENT REVIEW, 37:419-440.

    Hayagreeva Rao and Sunasir Dutta. (2012). Free Spaces as Organizational Weapons of the Weak: Religious Festivals and Regimental Mutinies in the 1857 Bengal Native Army. ADMINISTRATIVE SCIENCE QUARTERLY, 57: 625-668.



    May 3, 2013 at 9:49 pm

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