I study #Organizations in complex institutional environments, their #Strategy and #SocialEvaluation, notably in relation with #CorporateScandals.

No organization is an island

I view organizations as social structures that orchestrate resources to offer solutions to a set of problems they identify in society. Both the problems organizations attend to and the solutions they offer are embedded in time- and place-specific systems of beliefs and rules ­– or institutional logics.

Consider, for instance, film production companies – a form of organizations I have closely studied. Arthouse companies operate to help film directors and talents accomplishing their creative vision. Mainstream studios deliver filmed entertainment to audiences. Arthouse and mainstream production houses address different problems; the solution they bring in the form of movies is also distinct (e.g., arthouse vs. blockbuster movie).

To operate, organizations, for-profit or else, need to orchestrate a variety of resources, including financial resources, human resources, social capital, and knowledge. Such resources are under the control of stakeholders (e.g., investors, clients, employees, members, regulators, media), which constantly scrutinize what firms do and how they do it. How stakeholders evaluate firms is critical as stakeholders can withdraw support, undermining firms’ abilities to operate and survive.

My research explores how stakeholders in modern complex environments evaluate organizations, and how these evaluations (including negative ones) affect organizational behavior, competitive advantage, and success chances.

My work tends to be empirical and quantitative and involve the econometrical analysis of large-scale datasets, in conjunction with qualitative work when needed. Recently, I've explored the collection and analysis of (big) social media data, in collaboration with the PSL Governance Analytics lab, a project supported by a PSL grant.

Organizing in fragmented institutional contexts

My early work explored how organizations navigate institutional contexts where stakeholders operate under different institutional logics. I studied filmmaking teams, producers, and investment funds in the French film industry (1987–2008), a setting where the professional and market logics of filmmaking compete with one another.

Based on extensive qualitative and quantitative data, this work delivered critical insights about organizations and institutional evolution:

-       I show how newcomers carrying a minority logic into a field may engage in deference to pass symbolic boundaries and interact with incumbents (Jourdan, Durand, & Thornton, 2017 AJS);

-       I reveal how organizations may conform to a minority logic to lower they dependence on dominant stakeholders, favoring the diffusion of the minority logic (Durand and Jourdan, 2012 AMJ);

-       I further show that the resources received from public agencies, operating under a state logic, affects the private performance of producers in a non-linear way (Jourdan and Kivleniece, 2017 AMJ);

-       I provide theory and evidence suggesting that organizations specializing into an institutional logic are well positioned to form and maintain sustainable stakeholder relationships and survive (Jourdan, 2018 Strategy Science, Gomory Award finalist).

In combination, this work offers a novel multi-level model of institutional change (Figure 1 below):

Figure 1: A multi-level model of institutional change

The model, empirically tested, does not rely on the (logically problematic) assumption that embedded agents purposefully attempt to change institutions through entrepreneurship or work. Institutional change, I argue, can be thought as a byproduct of the interactions of social actors, led by two powerful drivers of action:

-       The search for resources and autonomy [A]: social actors travel social spaces in search for resource opportunities and, in doing so, disseminate new schemas that incumbents adopt to enlarge their resource pool and gain autonomy (Durand & Jourdan, 2012).

-       Conformity expectations [B]: social actors expect potential exchange partners to conform to their own schemas to allow interactions and grant resources (Jourdan, 2018; Jourdan et al., 2017); if alters don’t conform to their logic-based expectations, actors may withdraw from interaction and resource exchange.

The social evaluation of organizations and organizational actors

My work on institutional change assumes that firms operate under the constant evaluation of stakeholders. My current research further investigates organizational valuation processes along two lines of inquiries.

First, at the micro-level, I study how identity and ability dimensions interact in shaping organizational actors’ evaluations:

-       I show that industry contracts positively affect academic scientists’ likelihood to obtain research grants, but only up to a certain level when they become detrimental (Fini, Jourdan and Perkmann, 2018 AMJ).

-       Further pushing this line of work, I currently explore "gatekeeping“ behaviors in peer accreditation (working paper with Riccardo Fini, Markus Perkmann and Laura Toschi), using exhaustive data on the 2012 nationwide accreditation of Italian academics.

Second, I have developed a research agenda on organizational scandals – dramatic events reshaping organizational evaluations:

-        I build and test theory on the consequences of scandals for the competition between organizations, using data on religious organizations in the US (Piazza and Jourdan, 2018 AMJ, AMJ Best Paper finalist);

-        I explore social media data (Twitter) to understand how the Volkswagen "Dieselgate" scandal reshaped the automobile industry (working paper with Ju Qiu and Svitlana Galeshchuk, SSRN);

-        I develop and testing theory on the scandalization of misconduct, that is the process through which an act of wrongdoing becomes (or not) public (working paper with Alessandro Piazza);

-        Relatedly, I also study how multinational organizations respond to negative evaluations when they are subject to "political stigmatization", that is direct attempts by public officials at discrediting firms (working paper with Rodrigo Bandeira de Mello and Arnaldo Mauerberg Jr.).

Awards and prizes

My work has received notable distinctions, recently:

  • Jourdan (2018) was finalist for the 2018 Industry Association Gomory Award. 
  • Piazza and Jourdan (2018) was selected as finalists for AMJ Best Article – i.e. Top 3 paper among all papers published in AMJ in 2018

The working paper on “The Effect of Stigma on the Political Behavior of Multinationals” was finalist for the 2018 SMS Conference Best Paper.

Ealier, my PhD dissertation was distinguished by a number of prizes:

    • EGOS Grigor McClelland Best Dissertation Award (Honorable Mention),
    • AoM Carolyn Dexter Best International Dissertation Award (Finalist),
    • HEC Foundation Best Dissertation Award (Winner),
    • Industry Studies Association Best Dissertation Award (Finalist).