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Dec. 5, 2017

Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, Policy Area

I study how organizations – and firms in particular – interact with their external environment. Empirically, I apply this focus on organization-environment relationships to the topic areas of corporate governance and corporate social responsibility (CSR). I am both interested in how external demands permeate organizational boundaries and how organizations in turn impact their surroundings. At the heart of my investigations are political and cognitive explanations, such as the mobilization of political coalitions by groups in- and outside organizations to put pressure on corporate decision-makers or the beliefs and ideologies of decision-makers themselves. For instance, in two recent articles: "Institutional Complexity and Organizational Change: An Open Polity Perspective," (Academy of Management Review - forthcoming), and "Organizations as Polities: An Open Systems Perspective. Academy of Management Annals," I investigate how the internal political context molds organizations’ response to demands from outside constituents.

Recently, my collaborators and I also uncovered a surprising finding when studying the ideologies and beliefs of executives for our article titled, "Ideology and the Microfoundations of CSR: Why Executives Believe in the Business Case for CSR and how this Affects their CSR Engagements." Specifically, we found that even though managers believe that CSR improves companies’ financial performance, managers with a fair market ideology are not more likely to engage in CSR than other managers. This is because these managers’ ideology also makes them less likely to feel morally outraged by ethical problems in the market place and elsewhere.

Findings such as this one have important implications for managers, but also for general practitioners in the area of CSR. If the goal is to convince managers to lead their companies in more socially and environmentally responsible ways, our study suggests, we ought to put less weight on arguments referring to the business case of CSR, and more weight on actually sensitizing decision-makers about some of the negative externalities related to their companies’ activities.

The majority of the projects I am currently working on are related to corporate governance, shareholder activism and executive compensation. I study how shareholder activists pressured US-firms into adopting Say-on-Pay policies (giving shareholders a consultative vote on top management’s pay package) and how the adoption of Say-on-Pay affects executive compensation. In related projects, I also investigate how elements of Anglo-Saxon corporate governance have spread to Europe and how coalitions between domestic and international shareholder activists have forced European companies to modify long-standing corporate governance policies and practices.

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