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Below is a list of my publications with links to PDFs and abstracts.


Reframing Silence as Purposeful: Emotions in Extreme Contexts (joint work with Shaz Ansari)


Individuals bear the weight of emotional distress when exposed to brutality and suffering in war zones. Yet, immersed in scenes of intense human tragedy, they must publicly mask their emotional turmoil. How then may such individuals cope with the emotional distress they suffer but mute? Through the analysis of 53 unsolicited, personal diaries, non-participant observations in conflict zones, and interviews with Médecins Sans Frontières personnel, we study medical professionals who work in extreme contexts. Employing Goffman's notions of frontstage and backstage behaviour, we reveal silence as an emotional defence mechanism. We argue that this silence is a result of individuals' deliberate choice rather than being emotionally muted by external forces. This choice enables individuals to maintain focus and perform critical, often life-saving duties under extreme pressure. We find that silence does not imply an absence of emotion nor diminish emotional distress. Instead, silence functions as a protective measure against potential emotional breakdowns. We illustrate how journaling serves as a private refuge for self-expression, enabling individuals to navigate their emotions and experiences away from scrutiny. We contribute to understanding emotional regulation in extreme contexts, and redefine silence as an essential aspect of coping and resilience.


Waging war from remote cubicles: How workers cope with technologies that disrupt the meaning and morality of work (joint work with Shaz Ansari)

Technologies are known to alter social structures in the workplace, reconfigure roles and relationships, and disrupt status hierarchies. However, less attention has been given to how an emerging technology disrupts the meaning and moral values that tether people to their work and render it meaningful. To understand how workers respond to such an emerging technology, we undertook an inductive, qualitative study of military personnel working in unmanned aerial vehicles, or drone operations, for the U.S. Air Force. We draw on multiple data sources, including personal diaries kept by personnel involved in drone operations. We identified three characteristics of drone technology: ‘remote-split’ operations, remote piloting of unmanned vehicles, and interaction through iconic representations. Our analysis suggests that drone technology has revolutionized warfare by 1) creating distanciated intimacy, 2) dissolving traditional spatio-temporal boundaries between work and personal life, and 3) redefining the legal and moral parameters of work. Drone program workers identified with these changes to their working environment in contradictory ways, which evoked emotional ambivalence about right and wrong. However, their organization gave them little help in alleviating their conflicting feelings. We illuminate how workers cope with such ambivalence when a technology transforms the meaning and morality of their work. We extend theory by showing that workers’ responses to a changed working environment as a result of a remote technology are not just based on how the technology changes workers’ tasks, roles and status, but also on how it affects their moral values.

Also featured in American Sociology Association blog and Winner of the Best AOM OMT Paper 2021


From "Publish or Perish' to Societal Impact: Organizational Repurposing towards Responsible Innovation through creating a medical platform (joint work with Shaz Ansari)

Why would an academic project incentivised towards scientific publications be repurposed to become a medical platform for responsible innovation? Patient Innovation, a non-profit medical platform that focuses on the sharing and dissemination of innovations to find solutions for rare and chronic diseases, was initially set up as an academic research project. However, team members reframed their core purpose from conducting research on user innovation to providing global access to these innovations and creating societal impact. Using a framing lens to understand organisational repurposing, we illuminate how serendipitous inspiration, moral emotions and the power of socially conscious users and catalysts drove this emergent reframing of core purpose and develop a model of organisational repurposing. We show how a frame drift towards a change in purpose occurs spontaneously in interactions, as actors frame and reframe situations and feel inspired and morally motivated to transcend their immediate self-interests and serve collective goals.

Runner-Up of Best AOM OMT Environmental and Social Practice Paper 2020


Diaries as a methodological invention for the study of grand challenges (joint work with Shaz Ansari)

In this article, we illustrate the potential of diaries for advancing scholarship on organization studies and grand challenges. Writing personal diaries is a time-honored and culturally sanctioned way of animating innermost thoughts and feelings, and embodying experiences through self-talk with famous examples, such as the diaries written by Anne Frank, Andy Warhol, or Thomas Mann. However, the use of diaries has long been neglected in organization studies, despite their historical and societal importance. We illustrate how different forms of analyzing diaries provide important insights and enable a “deep analysis of individuals’ internal processes and practices” (Radcliffe, 2016) – which cannot be gleaned from other sources of data such as interviews and observations. Diaries exist in different forms, such as “unsolicited diaries” and “solicited diaries” and have different purposes. We evaluate how analyzing diaries can be a valuable source to shed light on the innermost thoughts and feelings of people at the forefront of grand challenges. To exemplify our arguments, we draw on diaries written by medical professionals working for Doctors Without Borders as part of our empirical research project conducted in extreme contexts. We show the value of unsolicited diaries in revealing people’s thought world, that is not apprehensible from other modes of communication, and offer a set of practical guidelines on working with data from diaries. Diaries serve to enrich our methodological toolkit by capturing what people think and feel behind the scenes but may not express nor display in public.


Creating Complementarities: How Entrepreneurs Mobilize Crowdfunding and Local Ecosystems (joint work with Stephan Manning and Stas Vavilov)

Entrepreneurs increasingly tap into both spatial and digital resource environments to mobilize critical resources in support of new ventures. Yet we know surprisingly little about how entrepreneurs make joint use of these environments. Linking the recent debate on spatial and digital affordances to the resource mobilization literature, this study examines how entrepreneurs mobilize critical resources from local ecosystems and the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter in complementary ways. We discuss two strategies of resource mobilization: (1) The circular strategy, which is mainly applied by social ventures, leverages community narratives and support for crowdfunding campaigns to strengthen and expand the very community support the campaigns are based on. (2) The cumulative strategy, which is mainly applied by commercial high-tech ventures, mobilizes the symbolic value of local institutional ties to attract crowdfunding backers, and uses crowdfunding success to attract new resource-holders in local ecosystems. Our findings contribute to research on entrepreneurial resource mobilization and our understanding of the interplay of spatial and digital affordances.


Anti-identity strategizing: The dynamic interplay of “who we are” and “who we are not” (joint work with Sarah Stanske and Anna Canato)

In this article, we investigate the strategy–identity nexus by illustrating the interaction between organizational identity, anti-identity, and strategy. While extant research illustrates the potentially constraining role of organizational identity on change trajectories, less is known about the role of organizational anti-identity. Drawing on a qualitative case study of a leading German distributor’s 32-year history, we highlight the importance of organizational anti-identity for both continuous and discontinuous change initiatives, and illustrate how organizational members can overcome identity ambiguity by referring to “who we are not as an organization” rather than to “who we are as an organization.” We further show how managers who draw on identity reservoirs may have greater leeway when exploiting anti-identity, and how ambiguity and resistance may be overcome by referring to “who we are not” as an organization. Our findings broaden our understanding of the role of anti-identity for strategy selection and contribute to the burgeoning literature on the strategy–identity nexus.


(Un)Mind the gap: How organizational actors cope with an identity–strategy misalignment (joint work with Matthias Wenzel, Joep Cornelissen, Jochen Koch & Michael Hartmann)

In this article, we explore how organizational actors cope with a perceived misalignment between their organization’s identity and strategy. Based on an inductive, interpretive case study at a public broadcasting organization, we identify three cognitive tactics through which organizational members cope with an identity–strategy misalignment: contextualization, abstraction, and fatalism. Furthermore, we show that the enactment of these cognitive coping tactics coincides with specific strategy-related tasks that prioritize different aspects of an organization’s identity and, therefore, invokes different conceptions of the identity–strategy misalignment. Based on these findings, we develop a framework that conceptualizes how organizational members cope with an identity–strategy misalignment. We end the article by discussing the implications of our study for further research on the linkages between organizational identity and strategy.

Gillian Tett. Anthro-Vision: A New Way to See in Business and Life. New York: 

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