SnO events

5 July 2009

SnO Summer School: Medici I Edition on How do organizational categories shape, and get shaped by, organizational fields?

  • When: 05/07/2009 - 10/07/2009
  • Where: Florence, Italy

The 1st Medici Summer School in Management Studies, held in the Villa La Pietra, was co-sponsored and co-organized by Alma Graduate School (University of Bologna), HEC Paris, and Stern School of Business (New York University).

The Summer School revolved around categories and identities of and in organizations. The key question of both academic and managerial relevance we dealt with is: How do organizational categories shape, and get shaped by, organizational fields? This question itself is motivated by both longstanding and contemporary strategy and organizations research. It is intimately associated with the problem of establishing “boundaries” in the study of organizations and industries. Everyday language provides much grist for distinguishing one type of organizational form from another. We know, almost intuitively, that an “airline” is a different form than a “bank”, and we speak effortlessly of the “airline industry” or “financial services.” And yet, forms and industries have been historically difficult to define and demarcate in systematic ways. In economics, for example, longstanding debates have occurred over how best to determine the boundaries between one industry or market and another, with no clear consensus emerging even today. There is a growing consensus in some research areas that the boundaries of industries, fields, markets, and/or populations are not to be found in the intrinsic characteristics of firms themselves but, rather, are cognitive categories that are defined by one or more groups of relevant observers (e.g., customers, suppliers, rivals, investors, etc.). This cognitive turn has very important implications for the study of forms in situ. It implies that language and linguistic conventions are primary data points in demarcating one form from another. It suggests the possibility that organizational forms and identities are relative to a community of observers, and that different communities can define the same organization in different ways depending on their perspective and observational goals.Interventions were done during the week by top scholars such as: Joe Porac (New York University), Giovanni Gavetti (Harvard),  Ezra Zuckerman, Raghu Garud (Penn State), Huggy Rao (Stanford University) and Rodolphe Durand (HEC Paris) and Elizabeth Pontikes (University of Chicago).

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