The Center for Organizational Research (COR) presents
Professor Siobhan O’Mahony
Boston University, Questrom School of Business
April 21, 2017
Merage SB1 5200 (Porter Colloquium Room)
ESCALATING INSURGENCY: EXPLAINING REPERTOIRE INNOVATION THROUGH SELECTIVE SYNTHESIS
Abstract: Social movement scholars have shown how insurgents, despite limited access to resources and power, affect powerful targets through the deployment of an innovative repertoire. Repertoire innovation is theorized to occur through novel combinations of existing tools and practices or through the emergence of de novo elements. Extant research usually focuses on the tactics insurgents deploy without explaining how insurgents execute on those innovations. Little research explains how insurgents initially craft, revise and innovate repertoires over time. Without understanding this process, we cannot explain how insurgents escalate or deescalate their operations to achieve social change. We call for a broader conception of repertoire innovation that includes not only the tactics, but also the practices and tools used to carry out insurgency. With an inductive, longitudinal field study, we show how the insurgent community Anonymous crafted, expanded and refined a repertoire of tools, tactics and organizing practices aimed at disrupting increasingly ambitious targets over an eight-year period. Our in-depth examination provides a grounded theoretical explanation of how insurgent communities escalate their operations by selectively synthesizing repertoire elements and a particular explanation of how this process unfolds in an under-explored, extreme context.
Speaker bio: Professor O’Mahony is Chair of the Strategy and Innovation Department at Boston University Questrom School of Business. Her research explores how technical and creative projects organize for innovation. She has examined how high technology contractors, open source programmers, artists, music producers, internet startups and product development teams coordinate their efforts in projects, teams and communities. She is interested in how people create organizing structures that promote innovation, creativity and growth without replicating the bureaucratic structures they strive to avoid. Dr. O’Mahony’s research has appeared in Administrative Science Quarterly, Organization Science, Academy of Management Journal, Research in Organizational Behavior, Research Policy, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Industry and Innovation, and the Journal of Management and Governance. A former consultant with Price Waterhouse LLP and Electronic Data Systems, she has consulted to organizations such as IDEO, the Global Business Network, Novell, Cap Gemini, Proquest, Microsoft, McDonald Investments, and the European Union. Professor O’Mahony holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University’s Management Science and Engineering Program.
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