— Cultural Sources of Newness

Cultural sources of newness can take a long time to valorize

The Journal of Management Inquiry (JMI) is one of the academic publications I particularly like—both to read and to publish in because the articles address themes that matter to me; they are grounded in organizational practice; and the editors encourage the authors’ voice to come through the text. The December 2011 issue marks the 20th anniversary of the journal by reprinting a selection of articles from past years, and pairing each of them with a new contribution that comments on the origin and the impact on the field since the article was published.

The JMI was launched essentially as a cultural source of newness, offering a platform for research that was not getting recognized in the established journals. The combination of the first four “old” articles and their new companion pieces spoke to me particularly strongly:

James March’s short article from 2003 “A scholar’s quest” & companion piece by Rakesh Khurana & Scott Snook;

Scott Cook and Dvora Yanow, 1993 “Culture and organizational learning” & companion piece by William Starbuck on learning to write about organizational learning;

Janice Beyer, 1997 “Research utilization: Bridging a culture gap between communities” & companion piece by Jean Bartunek;

Peter Frost, 1999 “Why compassion counts!” & companion piece by Jane Dutton and Kristina Workman on compassion as a generative force.

Together they illustrate (a) that caring about our work and the people who work in the organizations and society we study really matters, and (b) that it can take a long time for our voices to be heard/our ideas to be valorized. The piece by Cook & Yanow was chosen by the editors for this issue because it is the most frequently cited article in the journal’s 20 year history—and the companion piece by Starbuck explains that it took the authors 10 years to get it accepted for publication.

Fortunately, I have learned the German expression “langer Atem”. Unfortunately, few academic institutions know what that means any more.