Message from the Chair

By Emily Barman

Welcome to the new academic year; as the new semester either approaches or has already begun for many of you, ASA begins quickly to seem like a distant and hopefully fond memory.  Before too much time elapses, I want to take this opportunity to provide an overview of where our Section is and some of the decisions we likely face moving forward.

First, to quickly recap our time at the ASA, I want to thank you all for a series of exciting and energetic sessions at this year’s conference in Philadelphia, including those convened by the Program Committee (composed of myself, Tarun Banerjee, Erin Kelly, Ming Leung, Polly Rizova, Klaus Weber) and by the OOW Roundtable organizers (Eric Dahlin, Nicole Denier, and Ken-Hou Lin), and the Chair’s Choice session on “Revisiting Organizations and Power,” as well as the papers presented in other sessions by our members.   As last year’s Chair, Lis Clemens initiated a successful change to this year’s OOW Business Meeting.  For the first time, the meeting concluded with a Q&A between prize committee members and those prize winners who could attend, which offered valuable insights into the various and often unintended ways in which prize-winning scholarship comes about. Elizabeth Popp Berman talked with Erin Metz McDonnell, recipient of the Richard Scott Paper award for her 2017 article, “Patchwork Leviathan: How Pockets of Bureaucratic Governance Flourish within Institutionally Diverse Developing States” (American Sociological Review 82:476-510), Caroline Lee talked with Jennifer Bouek, who won the James Thompson Graduate Student Paper Award for her 2018 article, “Navigating Networks: How Nonprofit Network Membership Shapes Responses to Resource Scarcity” (Social Problems 65:11-32), and Lis Clemens spoke with Howard Aldrich, the winner of the Rosabeth Moss Kanter Distinguished Career Award. Unfortunately, Anju Paul, who won the Max Weber Book Award for Multinational Maids: Stepwise Migration in a Global Labor Market (Cambridge University Press, 2017) could not be present at ASA this year.

As incoming Chair of OOW, I first want to thank those who kept our Section going, including Lis Clemens, Chair, the OOW Council members (including the outgoing members: Lisa Cohen and Ofer Sharone, and the continuing members: Beth Popp Berman, Mike McQuarrie, Melissa Wooten, and David Pedulla) and the Secretary-Treasurer, Alaz Kilicaslan. Thanks to Emily Bryant and Sarah Mosseri for serving as co-editors of the OOW Newsletter and to Chris Prener and Matthew Vidal for serving as co-chairs of OOW Publications.  I also want to officially welcome our new OOW Council members, Nina Bandelj and Tim Bartley, as well as welcome Giacomo Negro, who is beginning a 3-year term as Secretary-Treasurer, and Michael Sauder, OOW Chair-Elect.

Looking forward to the new year, I am happy to report that our Section is in a good state moving forward, although we do have some decisions to make. In terms of size, we currently have 913 members, making us one of the largest sections in the ASA.  As you likely know, if OOW was to reach 1,000 members by September 31st, the Section would receive one more session, bringing us to six in all. The membership committee will be making a spirited effort to increase our membership size to that goal both for this year and next, including advertising the opportunity for faculty to either donate towards and/or to purchase an OOW Section membership for one or more graduate students.  Doing so is a wonderful way to engage in outreach to potential members and it has the added effect of potentially garnering us another session for the 2020 conference in San Francisco.  Finally, one challenge the Section currently faces going forward in terms of membership is that the Academy of Management has scheduled its annual meeting to coincide with ours; this is an unfortunate overlap that occurred not only this year but that will continue to occur for the next few years as well.  The OOW Council will be working to generate strategies to engage those members who are only able to attend the AOM meeting.

Another, and possibly related, issue to be considered this next year concerns the idea of OOW holding another mini-conference in the near future. On a pragmatic note, the Section’s budget is healthy and there are funds available to support this effort. After the success of the mini-conference, co-organized with Economic Sociology Section, at the 2017 ASA in Montreal, excitement was expressed at the OOW Business and Council meetings around the possibility of another mini-conference, either next year in New York (when OOW sessions will be held on Days 2 and 3 of the conference) or the following year in San Francisco (when our sessions will be held on Days 3 and 4 of the conference).  Given the timing of our Section sessions either year, discussion also took place over the relative merits of a pre-conference versus a post-conference.  Over the next few months, I, along with OOW Council members and Michael Sauder, OOW Chair-Elect, will be considering the relative merits and logistics of both options, including conversations with the Economic Sociology Section (as one likely co-organizer), outreach and dialogue with potential institutional hosts, evaluation of the viability for our Section members of a pre- versus a post-conference, and discussion of alternative events for the conference year in which a mini-conference does not take place (many people, for example, expressed interest in a graduate student mentoring event). We would welcome your thoughts, so please email me with any comments or suggestions, which I will share with the Council. We will let you know as soon as a decision is made in order to aid in your budget and schedule planning for next year.

Finally, to ensure the vitality of next year’s conference, OOW is soliciting volunteers for Section committees, including Program, Nominations, Membership, Publications, and separate award committees for the Max Weber Prize (books), the W. Richard Scott Award (articles), and the James D. Thompson Award (graduate student papers).  In addition, ASA has asked us to create a new position – the Public Engagement Liaison – which might involve a single person or a new committee working with ASA’s publicity department to identify OOW members who can speak to press inquiries.  The sign-up form for volunteering can be found here:

I will be sending out occasional updates and requests on the Section listserv, but I will be actively trying not to barrage you with emails. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as Section Chair this year and I look forward to working with you.

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