Headquarters-Subsidiary Relationships from a Convention Theory Perspective: Plural Orders of Worth, Arrangements and Form-Giving Activities

Julia Bandl and Anna Schneider (2017)

In: Dörrenbächer, Christoph/Geppert, Mike (eds.): Multinational Corporations and Organization Theory: Post Millennium Perspectives (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Volume 49). Emerald Publishing, pp. 295-324.

Abstract. How headquarter (HQ) and subsidiary actors end conflicts and reach agreements is an important but still under-researched question in multinational corporations (MNC) literature. This conceptual article approaches these conflict dynamics from the Convention Theory perspective. Convention Theory draws attention to justice principles (known as “order of worth”) and to the material aspects in relations between MNC actors. We offer a framework that contributes to HQ-subsidiary relations research in three ways: (1) it links conflicts to justice principles, (2) it enriches the understanding of the stability of agreements, and (3) it sheds light on the activities needed for realizing preferred arrangements.


Handling the clash between production & consumption: A situated view on front-line service workers’ competencies in interactive service

Anna Schneider (2016)

Munich: Hampp.

Abstract: The majority of the workforce is currently employed in the service industry where many employees are involved in daily face-to-face service interactions with customers. At the same time, these direct customer interactions are increasingly put under pressure for example, in traditional retailing by alternative distribution channels. Nevertheless, whenever an essential part of a business-model’s value-creation process builds on interactive service work, both front-line service workers and customers are forced to mutually work together in service interactions. The present study shows the tensions front-line service workers face between demands for cost-efficiency on the one hand and customer service on the other. Although these two rationalities do not necessarily contradict each other on an organizational level, individual front-line service workers face these contradictions in the form of challenging tensions in every day interactions with customers. Building on rich and comprehensive observational and interview data from the retail sales floor, the interpretive research approach allows the analysis of the challenges of interactive service work and carves out the corresponding competencies to handle the clash between production and consumption which manifest in service interactions. Drawing on Convention Theory (“Économie des conventions”), the situation as unit of analysis becomes center stage. Convention Theory shows that not only are individual characteristics such as friendliness important for successful service interactions, but especially the competent interplay between individual resources and organizational settings within the situation of interaction is essential. The results shed new light on individuals’ contributions to successful service interactions and contributes to a more fine-grained picture of the challenges and competencies in interactive service work.

Public branding audit. A pathway to brand accountability

Sabrina Gabl, Verena E. Wieser & Andrea Hemetsberger (2016)

In Ozcaglar-Toulouse, Nil/Rinallo, Diego/Belk, Russel W. (eds.)(2016): Consumer Culture Theory. Bingley (UK): Emerald Group, pp. 147-167.

Purpose. We stress the public demand for accountability of global brands and the rise in normative public brand evaluations in online networks. To gain an empirical and theoretical understanding of these phenomena, we introduce the notion of public brand auditing, which refers to public agents collectively contrasting brands against a multiplicity of shared understandings of what is worthy and good.
Methodology/approach. Convention theory serves as a theoretical lens to conceptualize public brand auditing, since it provides a normative framework of orders of worth based on which the appropriateness of actions are judged. Empirically, we conduct a netnographic study and illustrate public auditing strategies with online discussions about Google on the Slashdot platform.
Findings. We find that public brand auditing comprises two major auditing strategies: drawing leeways of acceptable brand conduct and allocating responsibilities.
Research implications. Approaching public forms of normative brand judgments from a convention theory perspective allows researchers to better understand how the public holds brands accountable and evaluates brand conduct against higher-order principles.
Practical implications. The concept of public brand auditing helps managers to understand and approach the normative basis of both positive and negative brand judgments.
Social implications. We urge brands to monitor public demand for accountability and emphasize the importance of the civic, market, and industrial orders of worth in guiding brand conduct.
Originality/value. This paper offers a conceptualization of and a framework for investigating public brand auditing phenomena.

Link to emeralinsight

Tourisme, mobilités et développement régional dans les Alpes Suisses : mise en scène et valeur territoriale. Montreux, Finhaut et Zermatt du XIXe siècle à nos jours

Delphine Guex (2016)

Neuchâtel: Éditions Alphil-Presses universitaires suisses

Le tourisme et les mobilités sont au coeur de l’économie actuelle. Pourtant, pendant longtemps, seul un petit nombre d’individus avait les moyens de se déplacer.
Ce livre s’attache, à travers les trajectoires de trois stations, à comprendre la manière dont évoluent des territoires concernés par le tourisme et les mobilités, et questionne la notion de valeur territoriale. Grâce à une réflexion transdisciplinaire au croisement de l’économie territoriale, de la sociologie, de l’histoire et de la géographie, cet ouvrage propose de comprendre le développement d’un territoire à travers la manière dont il est concerné par les mobilités : la mobilité des personnes, c’est-à-dire des consommateurs (et en premier lieu des touristes) et des travailleurs, mais aussi la mobilité des connaissances et de l’information, ainsi que la mobilité sur les marchés. De nos jours en effet, dans un monde « hypermobile », les lieux doivent être connectés aux autres. Nécessaires, ces mises en réseaux tendent néanmoins à une certaine standardisation des territoires. Or, pour attirer des touristes, de l’attention médiatique, et des investisseurs, les territoires doivent se démarquer ! C’est ce processus de mise en scène et de construction de la valeur que présente ce livre.
Ces aspects sont étudiés pour le cas particulier des trajectoires socioéconomiques de stations touristiques suisses (Finhaut, Montreux, et Zermatt). On montre comment, d’un côté, ces territoires se sont inscrits, selon les époques, dans les mobilités, et comment, d’un autre côté, ces territoires ont pu combiner et réguler les effets locaux de ces mobilités.


The need for an alternative to shareholder value creation? The Ethomed student experience

Bernard Paranque (2017)

Research in International Business and Finance, 39(B), p. 686–695

Abstract. This article aims to highlight the need for a radical break with the methodological individualism that dominates the fields of economics and management, especially finance. It advocates the need to try to understand the issues and methods that are required to coordinate economic action in order to meet social needs. The article questions methodological individualism and the dominant role played by shareholders. Is it possible to promote social welfare simply by considering it to be a result of a shareholder value maximization point of view? If not, this implies not only understanding fully the challenges that we face but also being innovative regarding the way in which we coordinate the actions that are necessary to meet these challenges head on, and perhaps promoting another character as a substitute for the shareholder.

Link to the document

Does the formalization of practices enhance equal hiring opportunities? An analysis of a French nation-wide employer survey

Guillemette de Larquier & Emmanuelle Marchal (2016)

Socio-Economic Review, vol. 14, n° 3, p. 567-589

Abstract. This article addresses the formalization of hiring processes and its impact on the type of the employee hired. Using the French Offre d’emploi et recrutement (OFER) survey on the hiring practices of 3584 firms in 2005, we investigate how firms organize the selection of job applicants and analyse the outcome of this selection with regard to the profiles of successful applicants. The data analysis reveals four types of screening processes: an informal process (streamlined) and three formalized processes (writtenbased, testing and professionalized). The use of a type of screening process depends on the constraints and resources of the firm and on the expected type of match. Finally, logit regressions show that personal and professional networks tend to penalize women and formal testing screening processes seem to favour unemployed or inactive people, whereas the formalized screening processes are likely to penalize individuals without diplomas.

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Special Issue “Conventions and Quantification – Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Statistics and Classifications” Historical Social Research

Rainer Diaz-Bone & Emmanuel Didier (Eds.) (2016)

Historical Social Research, 41(2).

In the last few decades, the field of “quantification” – namely the “sociology of quantification” – has evolved and it has shown an impressing development. There are many different strands of science contributing research on processes of quantification and the impact of quantification within social contexts. The concept of quantification is positioned at the crossroad linking approaches such as accounting theory, convention theory (économie des conventions), sociology and history of statistics, analysis of commensuration, sociology of standards and of standardization, analysis of benchmarking, and others.

Alain Desrosières was an internationally renowned scholar in the fields of sociology of quantification and history of statistics. His work can be regarded as the most important contribution to this field. Desrosières was also a “compagnon de route” of the French movement of the so-called “économie des conventions” which postulated the convention-based (and therefore social) nature of qualities, categories and quantities. Consequently, Desrosières’ work was also one of the main inspirations for this HSR Special Issue.

This HSR Special Issue presents recent and transdisciplinary research on the history and sociology of quantification. Building upon the work of Desrosières, this issue includes contributions on the history of science from the eighteenth century to today, covering topics such as: the millennium development goals, financial quantification, and quantification in higher education environments. All in all, the contributions work out the “political economy” as well as the “political sociology” of statistics, categorization, and quantification.

Furthermore this HSR contains a Mixed Issue with one article on „Societal Malaise and Ethnocentrism in the European Union: Monitoring Societal Change by Focusing on EU Citizens’ Perceptions of Crisis”.


Les réseaux d’entreprises formatrices: une nouvelle forme d’apprentissage en Suisse

Regula Leemann, Sandra Da Rin & Christian Imdorf (2016)

Formation emploi, 133, pp. 139 – 156

Résumé. Les réseaux d’entreprises formatrices constituent un modèle du système de formation professionnelle en alternance Suisse. Petites et moyennes entreprises peuvent ainsi mutualiser la formation des apprentis. Quelles raisons poussent les entreprises à participer à ce nouveau type d’organisation ? Quels conflits et tensions naissent au sein de ces réseaux ? Les analyses s’appuient sur quatre cas de réseaux et sur la théorie de l’économie des conventions. Ces réseaux naissent d’une pluralité de motifs de participation, source d’insatisfaction dans les entreprises et de conflits dans les réseaux tout au long du parcours de formation.

Training networks: A New Form of Apprenticeship in Switzerland

Abstract. Training networks are a model of vocational training in the dual VET system in Switzerland. Small and medium-sized enterprises can train apprentices jointly. Drawing on four case studies of training networks in Switzerland and on the theory of the economics of convention, two questions are treated : What are the motives of training companies for participation in a training network ? Which conflicts and tensions arise from the joint training of apprentices ? The results demonstrate the plurality of motives for participation in a training network, resulting in dissatisfaction of the training companies and ongoing conflicts in the network over the course of the training.

Lien vers le document / Link to the document

La télémédecine, un instrument de renouvellement de l’action publique ? Une lecture par l’économie des conventions

Nicolas Da Silva & Amandine Rauly (2016)

Economie et institutions, 24(1), pp. 155-180

[Revue Economie&Institutions]Résumé. La télémédecine, en France, est présentée comme une solution pertinente à un grand nombre de problèmes du système de santé. Cet outil de production de soins à distance serait une innovation qui résoudrait les problèmes liés à l’offre de soins des médecins, à la demande de soins des patients et aux objectifs de politique publique de santé. Pourtant, la télémédecine ne se développe pas et la mise en place de dispositifs d’incitation n’y change rien. Dès lors, le cadre d’analyse standard ne permet pas de comprendre les limites de l’introduction de la télémédecine dans l’offre de soins. Nous proposons une autre théorie de l’information, celle de l’Économie des conventions. À l’aide de ce cadre théorique nous interprétons les problèmes d’application de la télémédecine comme le résultat d’un conflit de représentation entre deux types d’organisations de la médecine : la convention professionnelle et la convention industrielle.

Abstract. The deployment of telemedicine in France is presented as an appropriate solution to many health system problems. Providing care at distance would be a significant innovation. It may simultaneously solve three problems: this of the physicians care supply, this of the patients care demand and this of the public policy. However, telemedicine is not currently developing in spite of the implementation of incentives. Therefore, the standard analytical framework does not allow us to deal with the limits of the introduction of telemedicine in health care supply. We propose an alternative theory dealing with information issues, the Economics of Conventions. With this theoretical framework we interpret the problems of the telemedicine implementation as the result of a conflict between two types of representation of the medicine organization: the professional convention and the industrial convention.

Lien vers le document / Link to the document

Long-Term Goals and Shifting Power Structures: A Convention-Based View

Francois Duhamel, Sergio Picazo-Vela, Isis Gutiérrez-Martínez, Luis F. Luna-Reyes (2016)

In: Holly Jarman, Luis F. Luna-Reyes (eds.), Private Data and Public Value Governance, Green Consumption, and Sustainable Supply Chains. Heidelberg: Springer, pp. 129-146

Abstract. Sharing information in supply chains may prompt conflicts of interest among stakeholders, presenting a challenge for achieving the long-term goals associated with platforms such as I-Choose. In this chapter, we analyze such potential conflicts and possible ways to overcome them, on the basis of convention theory and as a result of case studies. Through semistructured interviews with stakeholders of the coffee supply chain in the NAFTA region, we found the presence of four worlds, or “orders of worth”: the domestic, civic, market, and industrial worlds, according to the terminology of convention theory. Our empirical work shows that in practice, supply chain participants can be characterized by a combination of at least two of such views. We also specify the conditions that make different supply chain configurations and set of values more or less amenable to the changes implied in the disclosure of private information that the I-Choose platform requires. In the conclusion of this chapter, we draw policy implications to design the right incentives to the private sector to enhance public value.

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Dictionnaire des conventions

Philippe Batifoulier, Franck Bessis, Ariane Ghirardello, Guillemette de Larquier, Delphine Remillon (eds.) (2016)

Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, Collection  : Capitalismes – éthique – institutions

Comment penser l’économie autrement ? Depuis trente ans, des chercheurs de différentes disciplines participent au développement d’une économie des conventions qui construit une nouvelle représentation de l’économie. Les 75 auteurs réunis dans cet ouvrage fournissent un éclairage exceptionnel sur cette approche à partir des travaux de l’un de ses principaux artisans, Olivier Favereau. Plus que tout autre économiste, il a œuvré tout au long de sa carrière aux échanges interdisciplinaires pour renouveler notre compréhension des phénomènes économiques. Les différentes entrées de ce dictionnaire non standard discutent, utilisent ou prolongent ces travaux.
Le lecteur dispose ainsi d’une introduction sans équivalent aux débats contemporains sur l’évolution des savoirs économiques : les nouvelles représentations de l’entreprise, du travail, de la finance et plus généralement des comportements économiques et de leur dimension politique.

Convention theory in the Anglophone agro-food literature: Past, present and future

Stefano Ponte (2016)

Journal of Rural Studies, 44, pp. 12-23.

Abstract. In the past two decades, convention theory has been applied in various branches of agro-food studies, providing analytical and theoretical insight for examining alternative food networks, coordination and governance in agro-food value chains, and the so-called ‘quality turn’ in food production and consumption. In this article, I examine convention theory applications in the Anglophone literature on agro-food studies through the review of 51 relevant contributions. I highlight how CT has helped explain different modes of organization and coordination of agro-food operations in different places, and how it has provided new venues of approaching quality – in view of understanding how exchange of agro-food products takes place and with what social and power dynamics. I trace two main analytical streams of this literature: one focussing on agro-food adaptations of the ‘worlds of production’ framework (Salais and Storper, 1992; Storper and Salais, 1997); and another applying the ‘orders of worth’ approach of Boltanski and Thevenot (1991[2006]) and further elaborations of ‘quality conventions’. After tracing broad trajectories and the significance of new developments in this literature, I highlight its current limitations and suggest some directions for future research.

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Cooperative VET in Training Networks: Analysing the Free-Rider Problem in a Sociology-of-Conventions Perspective.

Regula Leemann and Christian Imdorf (2015)

In: International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training (IJRVET) 2(4), pp. 284-307

Abstract. In training networks, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises pool their resources to train apprentices within the framework of the dual VET system, while an intermediary organisation is tasked with managing operations. Over the course of their apprenticeship, the apprentices switch from one training company to another on a (half-) yearly basis. Drawing on a case study of four training networks in Switzerland and the theoretical framework of the sociology of conventions, this paper aims to understand the reasons for the slow dissemination and reluctant adoption of this promising form of organising VET in Switzerland. The results of the study show that the system of moving from one company to another creates a variety of free-rider constellations in the distribution of the collectively generated corporative benefits. This explains why companies are reluctant to participate in this model. For the network to be sustainable, the intermediary organisation has to address discontent arising from free-rider problems while taking into account that the solutions found are always tentative and will often result in new free-rider problems.


Handling paradoxical tensions through conventions: The case of performance appraisal

Arjan Kozica and Julia Brandl (2015)

German Journal of Research in Human Resource Management 29(1), pp. 49-68.

Abstract. In this paper, we investigate how conventions enable organisational actors to cope with paradoxical tensions in performance appraisal systems. Building on a case study of a performance appraisal system reform in a public sector organisation, we analyse how this organisation enableds superiors to take into account both accountability and professional logic. When new appraisal rules required superiors to rank their employees according to their qualifications but also to show collegiate solidarity, superiors negotiated an organisation-wide understanding of the rules that enabled them to address both logics simultaneously. The study underlines the importance of collective understandings for individual responses to paradoxical tensions and reveals how performance appraisal systems can be operated according to different logics.