Month: June 2012

Business School Research that Might Surprise You: Part 1

I’ve been teaching in university business programs and doing research for more than 20 years, and obviously I enjoy my work or I wouldn’t still be doing it. But I’m always annoyed by misconceptions about the kind of research that goes on in business schools.

A lot of people think business school research is only trying to find better ways for managers to exploit their employees, and/or to reinforce the hierarchical capitalist system. There’s also a common misconception – one that’s often mindlessly spouted by academics in other disciplines – that researchers in business schools just have to ask and their corporate masters will hand over tons of money to support their work. I know I’m not the only person who wishes this were true so they didn’t have to spend so much time writing grant applications. In reality, business school researchers struggle just as much as researchers in any other discipline to get funding for their work.

In this post and its sequel, I’m going to highlight some research from business schools that goes against these misconceptions, either in the choice of research subjects or in the research questions that were investigated – and which, as far as I know, wasn’t funded by any corporation. (more…)

Business Degrees Need More than Business Courses

June is the month for convocation (graduation) ceremonies at a lot of post-secondary institutions in Canada. And this year, I was delighted that one of the award winners  at my university graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in business, along with a business diploma. This made me happy because my own undergraduate degree from Simon Fraser University is a Bachelor of Business Administration with majors in business and English. Business programs should encourage their students to take more non-business courses, and it’s not just because of my own experience that I say that. (more…)

One Year and Counting: Rocky Mountaineer Lockout Keeps Chugging Along

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the lockout of Vancouver’s Rocky Mountaineer train attendants, which I wrote about a few months ago in this post. The Vancouver Courier newspaper has a very good update on the dispute here. Unfortunately, not much has changed in the last few months, other than the company expanding its services despite the dispute. It’s still using replacement workers to staff the trains – and, according to this press release, the company plans to expand its services even more in the 2013 season.

According to the Vancouver Courier story, the two parties in the dispute (Rocky Mountaineer and Teamsters Local 31), aren’t even bargaining. Hmm. Canada’s federal government seems quite happy to quickly impose laws to end labour disputes on the basis that any service disruption might affect the Canadian economy – and this is a dispute that falls under federal jurisdiction. (more…)

Professional Licensing and the Labour Market: Not That Tightly Braided

I’m usually a fan of the New York Times Magazine column “It’s The Economy”, some previous installments of which I’ve written about before. I like this column because it uses real life examples to demonstrate that economic and organizational  theories don’t just live in some isolated ivory tower, but are actually very useful in explaining why things in the real world work the way they do. That being said, however, this week’s column on licensing of professional work is really disappointing and superficial. (more…)

Update: Volunteer Work is Voluntary

I’m catching up on things after returning from ASAC 2012, but while I was away, the BC Labour Relations Board delivered its ruling in the case I wrote about here and here. involving BC teachers’ withdrawal of their volunteer work. The LRB ruling determined that volunteer work is exactly that, but that some kinds of work, mostly involving curriculum-related matters, is not voluntary, and that withdrawal of those services constitutes strike action. If the LRB issues a more detailed decision including its reasons, I’ll follow up on that, but I will say at this point that this seems like a thoughtful and reasonable decision.

About Time: Men Speak Out for Workplace Equality

Catalyst, a research organization that has been around for more than 50 years and whose work focuses on “expanding opportunities for women and business”, has recently launched MARC, or Men Advocating Real Change – an online community encouraging men to support equality in the workplace. MARC has eight male bloggers, a discussion forum, and literature and resources for men “committed to making real change”.

It says something about how “workplace equality” gets interpreted that most media covering this initiative, as far as I can tell, did so in the context of women’s workplace issues. (more…)


I’m delighted to announce that Organizational Legitimacy and Identities in Canadian Post-Secondary Education: Investigating Students’ Perceptions, a research paper I  co-authored with Dr. Kai Lamertz (Concordia University) and Dr. Alex Kondra (Athabasca University), has been named Best Paper in the Organization Theory division of the 2012 Administrative Sciences Association of Canada (ASAC) Conference. (more…)