I am fascinated by how individuals and organizations wrestle with, manage, and even embrace divergent priorities. All organizations face this at some level: they struggle with whether to stick to the tried-and-true or whether to try something new and innovative. However, some organizations experience this at a more fundamental level. Family businesses often have financial goals that would have them allocate resources in one way, but family goals that would dictate otherwise. Social ventures face a similar dilemma with social and financial goals. How do they manage and operate while holding these seemingly divergent priorities? This is a question that sticks with me as I identify new research projects to work on.
Much of my research interests also centers on the role of language. Organizations—inherently social entities—use language in every aspect of their existence. Coordinating the activities of employees, interacting with key stakeholders, selling to and servicing customers, and signaling to competitors and markets. That so many important organizational functions are mediated by language highlights the importance of understanding this language to understanding the individuals and organizations we study. The research questions I examine often contains some language component.
‘Save the world’ and make a healthy profit while doing so? It was not so long ago that social aims were seen as antithetical to business. Now, we see entrepreneurs all over the world embedding a social purpose in their business organizations. It’s refreshing to see… but how do they balance these seemingly conflicting goals? When you have one dollar to spend—and you can’t split it—do you spend it in search of profits or purpose? Is there a way to do both?
80% of all businesses worldwide are family controlled. This comes as a surprise to many, but our stereotype of organizations as owned by a dispersed group of arms-length investors is actually true of only a minority of firms. However, the introduction of family control complicates many aspects of organizational life. How do decisions get made when you have both family and non-family managers? What does the involvement of family mean for the strategy and operations of the business?
As a methods scholar, I view myself as an advocate for content analytic methods in organization science. My research focuses on enhancing the rigor of content analysis in organizational research and making the techniques we use accessible for all organizational scholars.
My interest in crowdfunding emphasizes the non-financial rationale backers use in contributing to campaigns. Certainly, some backers are in it for the promise of financial returns, but many are (also) influenced by non-financial motives. What are they and how can entrepreneurs use these insights to raise capital for their ventures?