Thesis committee: Prof. Déborah Philippe (supervisor), Prof. Guido Palazzo (internal expert), Prof. Bernard Forgues, Emlyon Business School (external expert), Prof. Thomas Roulet, University of Cambridge (external member)
Abstract: My dissertation consists of three chapters on the role of sensemaking at different phases of crises. Meaning conflicts – a specific outcome of sensemaking - can be understood as sensemaking processes that produce retrospective and prospective understandings that are in direct conflict with understandings held by others. The first chapter of the dissertation investigates the role of meaning conflicts that emerged during the signal detection phase of a crisis. The findings indicate that the presence of meaning conflicts had the potential to prevent the situation from developing into an acute crisis. The second chapter focuses on the effect of meaning conflicts on the overall trajectory of crises. The chapter shows that meaning conflicts that emerged in the recovery phase of a crisis altered the trajectory of the crisis in two critical ways: 1) it prolonged the overall duration of the crisis, and 2) it broadened the scope of the crisis in the sense that actors that were not initially involved became implicated by entering the meaning conflicts. The third chapter assesses the problematic consequences of using inquiry processes in crisis recovery. The chapter reveals that meaning hierarchies are likely to exist in crises, and that the inquiry process may result in a more complicated recovery process.
Thesis committee: Prof. Patrick Haack (supervisor), Prof. Déborah Philippe (internal expert), Prof. Thomas Roulet, University of Cambridge (external expert), Prof. Roy Suddaby, University of Victoria (external expert), Prof. Georg Wernicke, HEC Paris (external expert)
Abstract: In my thesis I study how morally contested practices become legitimate. The first chapter of my thesis examines the role of professionals in legitimating waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” (EITs) after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In this research, I show how professionals working for the CIA used the trappings of scientific expertise and scientific discourse to distinguish between legitimate EITs and illegitimate practices of torture. In the second chapter of my dissertation, I conduct three experiments to study the effects of moral framing and self-interest on legitimacy judgments and on support for an individual’s decision. I find that framing and self-interest have significant effects on individual behavior but that these effects cancel out when eliciting legitimacy judgments before measuring behavior. This result suggests that the link between the formation of legitimacy judgments and the expression of behaviors is less straightforward than commonly assumed. In the third chapter, I develop a process model that explains how stakeholders come to view an organization that advances market practices, which infringe prevailing moral norms, as acceptable.
Thesis committee: Prof. Christian Zehnder (supervisor), Prof. Franciska Krings (co-supervisor), Prof. Rafael Lalive (internal expert), Prof. Eva Derous, Ghent University (external expert)
Abstract: This thesis focuses on two management topics that are currently of pivotal importance in scholarly debate and practice alike: power and diversity. Research on power has indeed been very active and it has resulted in many conclusions being drawn about power, such as power corrupts, power increases risk-taking and power increases social distance. My first thesis chapter contributes to the power literature by aiming to elucidate whether it might not be misguided to establish conclusions about power in general, while power in reality comes in various forms with potentially different effects on attitudes and behaviors. This first chapter reveals positive results for the power literature, insofar as the effects of power do not seem to depend on subtle changes in the way in which power is framed.
The second topic of my thesis relates to diversity. My second thesis chapter focuses specifically on the impact of family choices on wages. By analyzing a large dataset, I reveal the importance of the responsibility for emergency childcare duties in causing wage differentials between men and women. In addition, there is evidence that self-employed women and managers are not punished for motherhood, which suggests that employer discrimination as well as lack of work flexibility play a role in explaining the gender wage gap. My third thesis chapter builds on my second chapter to suggest ways in which business leaders can devise effective practices aimed at improving diversity. Across four online studies, this chapter provides evidence that a pro-diversity culture communication aimed at promoting age diversity in teams succeeds at increasing the selection rate of older persons into teams.
Thesis committee: Prof. Guido Palazzo (supervisor), Prof. Gaia Melloni (co-supervisor), Prof. Sonja Vogt (internal expert), Prof. Anette Mikes, Oxford University (external expert), Prof. Charles Cho, York University (external expert)
Abstract: Using the recent COVID-19 and climate change crises as a research context, this dissertation presents a theorization of the role of narratives/risk disclosure in the new normal. In chapter 1, we set up the theoretical framework of the new normal, highlighting key components that may lead to greater transparency in corporate sustainability reporting disclosure. Chapter 2 presents an empirical test of COVID-19 risk disclosures made in the peak of the pandemic, testing for the presence of COVID-washing. Finally, chapter 3 uses qualitative methods to study climate change narratives spread through documentaries, offering suggestions on how to better combat the spread of misinformation.
Thesis committee: Prof. John Antonakis (supervisor), Prof. Christian Zehnder (internal expert), Prof. Mikko Rönkkö, Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics (external expert), Prof. Jeffrey R. Edwards, Kenan-Flager Business School, University of North Carolina (external expert)
Abstract: My thesis contains three research projects. In my first chapter, I evaluate the use and utility of a family of statistical techniques called “relative importance analysis”. These techniques aim to partition the amount of variation in a variable, like work performance, between a set of other factors that are thought to be related. Using mathematical demonstrations and MonteCarlo simulations I show that these techniques do not work as intended and their use should be abandoned in favor of OLS regression. In my second chapter, I investigate whether leaders matter for economic growth in the 50 states of the USA. To do so, I collected economic and election data from 1963 to 2019 yielding 2985 observations which I analyzed using a variance-decomposition model. The idea is that when a new governor is elected, and there is a change in the administration of a state, that change may cause a change in GDP growth, and indeed we find that governors and their administrations are responsible for 2.36% of the variation in GDP growth. In the third chapter of my thesis, I trace the history and development of management as an academic discipline from 1940 to 2022. I identify the major research themes across time and narrate the development of the field. I also create a list of the 20 publications that most affected the field of management. I then critique two of the influential publications to highlight some of the theoretical and methodological problems plaguing our field and provide suggestions on how to solve them.