Join us to celebrate these 2014 Awards at the OOW Awards Ceremony at our Business Meeting at ASA on SATURDAY 5:30 – 6:10 (followed by our Reception at 6:30-8:30, followed by our Networking Dinners.)

The JAMES D. THOMPSON AWARD is given for an outstanding graduate student paper on organizations, occupations, and work. The winner receives $500 for travel to a professional meeting and, for 2014-2015, will serve a one-year term as a representative to the Section Council.

The winner is Kim Pernell-Gallagher (Harvard University) for her 2014 paper, “Learning from Performance: banks, collateralized debt obligations and the credit crisis.”  The committee found this paper theoretically important, empirically rigorous and likely to have widespread impact on organizational scholarship. Besides the theoretical contribution to organizational theory and particularly neo-institutional theory, the committee was impressed with the unique data the author collected. Further, the analysis was extremely well-executed.  Pernell-Gallagher uses event-history analyses to analyze a unique dataset that includes every collateralized debt obligation underwritten by the entire population of U.S. publically traded banks and investment banks between Jan. 1996-and March 31, 2007. Her analysis helps resolve a long-standing debate between neo-institutional theory  and vicarious learning theory about mechanisms of social learning and contagion processes. Instead, Pernell-Gallagher shows us that “firms learn superstitiously from the observable experiences of other innovation users…” or from “loosely linked performance feedback.”  Her results suggest some important revisions to neo-institutional theory, connections to behavioral economics and implications for policy more broadly.

Three papers received Honorable Mentions:

Red Bird, Beth. “The new closed shop: economic and structural effects of occupational licensure” ( Stanford University). This well-written paper questions and tests long held assumptions about the impact of licensing on wage premiums.  Using a unique and novel longitudinal dataset, the author shows that while licensing affects occupations, the impact is different from how it is commonly thought to be; rather than limit competition or increase wages, licensure locates and institutionalizes occupations in a particular occupational division of  labor . The implications of the findings have the potentially to significantly change the way that scholars theorize and research licensing of occupations and makes a significant contribution to social closure literature.

Pedulla, David S. “New scars for the new economy? Gender and the consequences of non-standard employment histories” (Princeton University). This innovative paper uses a field-experimental design to examine the relationship between non-standard work (contingent work) on employees’ future work opportunities.  The author found that employees who had a history of non-standard work were less likely to be called for an interview, but this effect varied by gender. Men with non-standard work histories were more likely to be called than women with non-standard work histories.  Given the increase in non-standard work, the implications of this paper are considerable.

Funk, Russell J. and Daniel Hirschman. “Derivatives and deregulation: financial innovation and the demise of Glass-Steagall” (University of Michigan). This well-researched paper examines how organizational innovation leads to deregulation of the financial services industry using a case study of interest rates and foreign exchange swaps or derivatives.  The committee thought that the authors make an important contribution because innovation research typically focuses on  innovation as an outcome, not a predictor. The authors put together an intriguing dataset drawing from various historical sources.

Thank you to the Thompson Award Committee: Beth Rubin (Chair), Lindsey Trimble O’Connor, and Vernon Woodley.


MAX WEBER AWARD is granted for an outstanding contribution to scholarship on organizations, occupations, and/or work in a book.

The winner is Ofer Sharone for Flawed System/Flawed Self: Job Searching and Unemployment Experiences (University of Chicago Press, 2014). This book draws on extensive fieldwork with would-be workers in the U.S. and Israel to show how different structural conditions shape the lived experience of unemployment in each country. U.S. applicants play a “chemistry game”—crafting resumes to reflect their perfect fit for the job and leveraging personal connections. But Israelis secure jobs through a “spec game”—at staffing agencies where inexperienced screeners look for resumes with the right keywords and use personality tests to filter out the undesirable. Sharone shows convincingly how these different institutional environments create distinct subjective experiences of unemployment. While Israeli workers may be bitter about the unfairness of the system, they do not become paralyzed by their lack of success. But the U.S. unemployed come to see themselves as fundamentally failed human beings, not simply out of work.

The committee was impressed with the scope of the study and its cross-national comparison, with its compelling attention to the mechanisms connecting institutional structures and experience, and with its valuable extension of traditions in both the work and organizations literatures. Moreover, in an era of unprecented long-term unemployment, Flawed System/Flawed Self helps us understand a pressing social problem: how the organization of the employment process shapes the challenges of escaping unemployment.

An Honorable Mention goes to Elizabeth A. Armstrong and Laura T. Hamilton for Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality (Harvard University Press, 2013). Armstrong, Hamilton, and a team of researchers spent a year observing women in a party dorm at a large Midwestern university, then followed those women for the next four years, through college and beyond. In Paying for the Party, they show how the university is set up to provide a “party pathway” that provides easy majors and an exciting social life to wealthy women who can rely on connections to get a job, or don’t expect to need one. But the party pathway is tempting for less-privileged women as well, and when they take it they often find themselves downwardly mobile, with a degree that has little value or no degree at all. Compelling in its narrative and convincing in its use of evidence, Paying for the Party develops an important new explanation of how an organization meant to provide opportunity can instead reproduce and even worsen inequality, and generates promising possibilities for thinking about how to change such dynamics.

Thank you to the Weber Award Committee: Beth Popp Berman (Chair), Jeffrey J. Sallaz, Rachel Sherman, and Laurel Smith-Doerr.


The W. RICHARD SCOTT AWARD is granted for an outstanding contribution to the discipline in an article on organizations, occupations, and work.

The winning article is Kwon, Seok-Woo, Colleen Heflin, and Martin Ruef (2013). “Community Social Capital and Entrepreneurship.” American Sociological Review 78(6): 980-1008. This paper contributes to literature on the social determinants of entrepreneurship, by shifting attention from the role of social ties at the individual level to the role of community social capital. The authors use a combination of large scale datasets, by merging individual data from the 2000 Census with two community surveys, the Social Capital Benchmark Survey and the General Social Survey. They find that individuals in communities with higher levels of social trust are more likely to be self-employed than those in communities with lower levels of social trust. They also show that these effects vary with the connectedness of organizational memberships. Moreover the effects are stronger for whites, native-born residents, and long-term community members. The article makes a clear theoretical contribution to our understanding of the sociological drivers of entrepreneurship. It is clearly written and provides a comprehensive set of novel analyses. Its emphasis on the role of a community’s social context in encouraging or discouraging entrepreneurship has the potential to make this study highly impactful.

An Honorable Mention goes to Turco, Catherine (2013). “Difficult Decoupling: Employee Resistance to the Commercialization of Personal Settings.” American Journal of Sociology 118: 380-419. This article is extremely engaging to read. The award committee was impressed by the data collection process and the clarity of the authors’ arguments. The paper makes some thought-provoking arguments on how decoupling actually happens (or does not happen) within organizations.

Thank you to the Scott Award Committee: Isabel Fernandez-Mateo (Chair), Youngjoo Cha, Kjerstin Gruys, Kevin Stainback, and András Tilcsik.

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