Journal of Management Studies

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  • Achieving Social and Economic Equality by Unifying Business and Ethics: Adam Smith as the Cause of and Cure for the Separation Thesis

    Adam Smith's famous argument that self‐interested decisions will ultimately improve social welfare seems inconsistent with the social and economic inequality characterizing Smith's time and today. I contend that these inequalities are the result of Smith's failure to explicitly situate the economic man he describes in The Wealth of Nations within the broader social context he articulates in The Theory of the Moral Sentiments, an omission which has since given rise to the separation thesis, which states that business decisions have no moral content and moral decisions have no business content. In response to this modern‐day Adam Smith problem, I integrate Smith's notions of sympathy, intimacy, and justice into a unification thesis that articulates how individuals might balance their self‐interested and benevolent motives. By reuniting the discourses of business and ethics, this research may inform contemporary theories of business ethics and provide normative guidance for managers.

  • The Institutional Work of Exploitation: Employers’ Work to Create and Perpetuate Inequality

    Social inequality is underpinned by exploitative labour institutions, yet the agency of employers in establishing and maintaining such institutions remains underexplored. We thus adopt the lens of institutional work in analysing South African mining employers’ purposive efforts to ensure reliable access to cheap labour from the 1860s through until the infamous Marikana Massacre in 2012. We find that while labour is scarce, employers engage in forcing: creating exploitative institutional devices through conscripting and controlling. But as labour becomes abundant (and political winds shift), employers engage in freeing: liberalizing institutional controls to give workers ‘choice’, while simultaneously outsourcing responsibilities and costs associated with the unjust employment relationship to others, including workers themselves. We thus explain how employers purposefully create and perpetuate their advantage in interaction with labour market dynamics, contributing to our understanding of inequality and the role of actors’ intentions in impacting social systems.

  • Issue Information ‐ Notes for Contributors
  • List of People Who Reviewed for this Special Issue
  • The Legitimacy of Inequality: Integrating the Perspectives of System Justification and Social Judgment

    To explain the legitimation of inequality among the members of a social system, we blend system justification theory and the theory of social judgment. We identify adaptation and replacement as two major mechanisms of inequality legitimation and examine their influence in the unique setting of a natural experiment, the reunification of socialist East Germany and capitalist West Germany. We show that the new members of a society in which inequality is broadly endorsed and perceived as enduring will adapt to this perception and come to view inequality as acceptable. This process of adaptation reflects the subtle but powerful influence of collective legitimacy on an individual's tacit approval of inequality. Inequality also becomes legitimate as older cohorts are replaced by younger cohorts; however, this effect is weaker than the effect of adaptation. We contribute to the literature by demonstrating that developing and testing a theory of how inequality becomes legitimized can provide new insights into the ideational antecedents of inequality.

  • Issue Information
  • ‘Why Even Bother Trying?’ Examining Discouragement among Racial‐Minority Entrepreneurs

    We extend organizational research on racial‐minority social and economic inequality by developing a mixed embeddedness perspective to investigate whether and why certain racial‐minority entrepreneurs become discouraged with important entrepreneurial tasks – namely, seeking capital from financial institutions. Concretely, we examine borrowing discouragement among three predominant racial‐minority entrepreneur groups in the United States – African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans – using two independent samples from the US Federal Reserve Board. Our findings indicate that African Americans and Hispanic Americans are more likely to be discouraged than White Americans, while Asian Americans are less likely to be discouraged than African Americans. Our theory and findings suggest that for certain racial minorities, socio‐historical experiences and shared knowledge of inequalities may influence individual behaviour through increasing discouragement toward important opportunities and entrepreneurial tasks.

  • Breaking Boundaries: Exploring the Process of Intersective Market Activity of Immigrant Entrepreneurship in the Context of High Economic Inequality

    We explore immigrant entrepreneurship using structuration theory to understand how migrant‐led venture creation conducts socially‐intersective market activity in the host country of high economic inequality and social exclusion. Applying Gidden's structuration theory to immigrant entrepreneurship (1994), we unravel the co‐evolutionary process of both the entrepreneurial agent and the social structure of the host country via three phases of venture creation. We collected and examined original and longitudinal empirical data of eight South African‐based immigrant entrepreneurs using a process‐oriented theory‐building approach. Our findings unveil a process by which home and host institutions shape immigrant entrepreneurial agency to identify non‐ethnic business opportunities and to form relationships across diverse actors that counter existing norms of intergroup segregation and hostility. The process illustrates how an immigrant's social orientation to his/her host country's structure changes over time, and symbiotically, how the immigrant entrepreneur's actions – which break socially constructed boundaries – also change the social structure.

  • What We Talk About When We Talk About Inequality: An Introduction to the Journal of Management Studies Special Issue

    This introduction to the Journal of Management Studies Special Issue on Inequality argues that the way we frame conversations about inequality reveals important information about how poverty and inequality have become institutionalized in modern society. We observe a distinct recent shift in the collective conversation about vulnerable populations in western society away from poverty and toward inequality. We question why this shift has occurred and who benefits from it. Drawing from the provocative papers that populate the Special Issue we describe how forms of talk can help create inequality, maintain it and holds the potential to change it. We encourage new research that adopts a holistic reintegration of poverty and inequality by attending to the ‘dirty realism’ of the violence of poverty and the dire consequences of internalized inequality.

  • Poverty's Monument: Social Problems and Organizational Field Emergence in Historical Perspective

    This article draws on historical institutionalism as an approach to studying the relationship between business institutions and major social problems. Using the historical case of the emergence of savings banking as an organizational response to poverty in the nineteenth‐century United States, I develop three conceptual claims about how social problems shape the processes of institutional and organizational change. First, I show how the ‘historical framing’ of social problems shapes the processes of problematization, design, and legitimation related to institutional change. Second, I demonstrate how the dynamics of cooperation, competition, and alignment between an emerging organizational field and other fields shape the evolution of institutional responses to social problems. And finally, I illustrate how historical revisionism as a methodological approach can help management scholars re‐consider settled empirical and theoretical claims in a way that takes social problems into account.

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