About The Center for Organizational Research


COR facilitates research on new organizational forms and processes now taking shape in a variety of contexts. As the 21st century unfolds, we increasingly find organizing that diverges from traditional bureaucratic structures. Such possibilities can be found in global teams, web-based collaboration, network structures, collective threats to security and privacy, micro enterprises, international non-governmental organizations, and alliances across private, public, and non-profit fields. These developments raise opportunities for alternative modes of decision-making, just as they present challenges for accountability and efficacy. They also raise questions about how existing distributions of power both constrain and enable organizational experimentation. COR contributes to the development of organization theory by connecting scholars from many disciplines who bring their knowledge and methods to a common understanding of these issues.

Continue reading

COR Faculty Workshop: Prof. Chris Bauman Dec 5th

COR Faculty Workshop

Friday, December 5
Social and Behavioral Sciences Gateway SBSG 1321

Prof. Chris Bauman
Merage School of Business

Blame the Shepherd not the Sheep: Subordinates who Imitate Authorities are Absolved of Moral Responsibility”

Discussants: Prof. Joey Cheng (Social Ecology) and Prof. Lyman Porter (Merage)

Leaders often leverage social learning processes to influence group norms and promote desirable behavior. When authorities misbehave, however, the bad examples they set can endorse and even exonerate unethical behavior. Yet, current models of blame and punishment focus on characteristics of acts, transgressors, and punishers and fail to consider the organizational context in which transgressions occur. We propose that organizational precedence for specific misdeeds can influence punishment recommendations, even when the acts themselves are obviously against company rules. Five studies supported our claim. Specifically, Study 1 revealed that employees who observed unethical behavior at work felt more entitled to act similarly if the unethical actor was high but not low status in their organization. Study 2 found that people generally recommended harsher punishment for employee thefts of greater than lesser amounts, but punishment recommendations were low, irrespective of the amount taken, when higher status employees first modeled the behavior. Studies 3 and 4 showed that differences in attributed levels of personal responsibility explained why people recommended less punishment for low status individuals who imitated theft by high (vs. low) status others. Finally, Study 5 indicated that punishment recommendations were lower when the high and low status transgressors were from the same organization, but not when the high status transgressor was from a different organization within the same industry. Taken together, results indicate that transgressions modeled by high status, in-group members license imitators’ unethical behavior by releasing them from moral accountability.

Please RSVP to cor@uci.edu by Monday, December 1. Lunch will be provided.

COR Colloquium: Prof. Daniel Geiger Oct 24, 2014

Prof. Daniel Geiger
Chair for Organization Studies
University of Hamburg,Germany
COR Visiting Fellow

“Break the Rule?! A Practice-Perspective on Organizational Rule-Following and Rule-Breaking in Extreme Contexts”

Friday, October 24 2014
SBSG 1321

Light lunch will be provided. Please RSVP to cor@uci.edu by October 21.

“Break the Rule?! A Practice-Perspective on Organizational Rule-Following and Rule-Breaking in Extreme Contexts”


This paper explores the practices and dynamics of organizational rule-following and rule-breaking in the context of a high reliability organization which is confronted with highly uncertain and dynamic settings. High-reliability organizations have to balance the need for reliability with the ability to flexibly respond to the Unexpected. Practices such as role shifting, reorganizing routines or improvisation have been identified as critical in this regard. The question, however, how these practices related to the bureaucratic rules has not deserved much attention yet. Building on an ethnographic study of a firefighting unit in an urban environment, this paper contributes to our understanding of the practices of organizational rule-following and rule breaking. Whilst rule-breaking was critical and rather the normality than the exception, the study identified four distinct yet interrelated practices: Tolerating, leading to small breaches of rules which are noticed but accepted. Normalizing, resulting in an unnoticed drift in rule-following which may be practical but eventually leads into dangerous, irreversible states. Practicing useable illegality points to the need to break rules in order to achieve intended outcomes. Base-lining refers to the flexible use of rules without breaking This contributes to a better understanding of the dynamics of rule-following and rule-breaking; it suggests possibilities to inject flexibility and constrains in bureaucratic organizations and offers a corrective to the overreliance on formal rules in high-reliability organizations. Finally, it points to the paradoxical nature of organizational rules, thereby contributing to our understanding of the relationship between organizational practices and organizational rules.

Grant Recipients 2013-2014

Congratulations to 2013-14 COR small grants recipients!

Duygu Akdevlioglu, Paul Merage School of Business
Social Media and Marketing Practices

Chris Bauman, Paul Merage School of Business
Employees’ perceptions of corporate social responsibility

Mark Berlin, Political Science
Criminalizing Atrocity: The Worldwide Spread of International Crimes to Domestic Legal Systems, 1948-2010

Francisco Fernandez, Planning, Policy, & Design
Urban Poverty Alleviation and the Role of Mediating Institutions

Dahlia Hegab, Informatics
Modernizing Constructionist Pedagogy for Adult Women: How Groups Like Hackbright Academy, Railsbridge, DIYGirls, and PyLadies Can Update How Institutions Teach

Cory Knobel, Informatics
Disciplinary Coordination in Forming the UCI Institute for Research on Family Violence

Deborah Lefkowitz, Social Ecology
The Institutional Construction of Breast Cancer as Disability

Scott Mitchell, Paul Merage School of Business
Ownership Form and Strategic Price Competition in Retail Gas Micro-Markets

Jessica Perez, Planning, Policy, & Design
If You Give a Feast, Invite the Poor: Inviting the Homeless to the Planning Table

Evan Schofer, Sociology
Voluntary Associations and Governmental Corruption in Comparative Context

Oscar Tsai, Planning, Policy, & Design
Towards a Sustainable Los Angeles Region: Insights from the Regional Plan

Tao Wang, Informatics
Investigating the Role of Context in Loosely Organized Information Sharing

Academic Speed-Dating

Friday, October 3 2014, 12:00-1:30pm
Social and Behavioral Sciences Gateway SBSG 1321

Our 2014-15 COR Kick-Off Event is an academic version of speed dating. As in the past years, we expect it to be both fun and generative. This is an opportunity to learn more about the interests of other COR members, to explore possible synergies and to receive some very quick feedback on your research. Here’s how it works:

  • You come prepared to describe your research in 3 minutes or less.
  • We form pairs of people (preferably those who have not met before, or haven’t talked in a while)
  • The first person in a pair describes his/her research in 3 minutes and then we allow 2 minutes for a Q&A. After 5 minutes, it is the second person’s turn to do the same.
  • After 10 minutes, we form new pairs and start again.
  • We continue for about 5 rotations.
  • The remaining time can be used to continue the conversations that you wish to be longer.

We will also have a few announcements, including about COR small grants program for 2014-15.

A light lunch will be provided. Please don’t forget to RSVP to cor@uci.edu by Tuesday, September 30th, so that we don’t have too much or too little food.