Through on ongoing research program, I seek to understand how firms can strategically manage external perceptions regarding their actions ("what we do") and identity ("who we are") to influence external audience's interpretation and create value. My research is motivated by the observation that organizational actions often entail ambiguity, that is, external audiences frequently interpret a firm's strategies and identity differently from the firm's original intention. For instance, different stakeholders can interpret a firm's strategy differently. The same goes with a firm's identity. Different stakeholders can categorize a firm's business differently. With chance of such ambiguity, I believe that firms that are able to influence the way their stakeholders perceive and interpret their actions and identity, either by resolving or promoting divergent interpretations, can create more value compared to firms that don't.
I take a social constructionist perspective to suggest that firms can influence external audience's perceptions and interpretation by using language, that is, by conveying the subjective meanings of their actions and identities "toward a preferred redefinition of organizational reality." (Gioia & Chittipeddi, 1991:442)
In my research, I take an interdisciplinary approach based on sociology and social psychology, and use a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods including content and textual analysis. In current projects outside my dissertation, I study the effect of framing strategies for justifying the adoption of a controversial governance practice (Rhee & Fiss, 2013) and CEO succession by an outsider CEO (Rhee & Rajagopalan, 2012).
Selected Research in Progress
Framing Controversial Actions: Regulatory Focus, Source Credibility, and Stock Market Reaction to Poison Pill Adoption. (with Peer C. Fiss) Under 2nd review at Academy of Management Journal.
How To Frame a Frame: Toward an Integrative Explanation of Frame Effectiveness and Legitimacy. Working paper, Marshall School of Business. In preparation for submission.
The Symbolic Management of Category Affiliations: Sensegiving, Sensemaking, and IPO Performance in Nascent Markets. Working paper, Marshall School of Business. In preparation for submission.
Hiring an Unknown God: Framing Outsider CEO Succession. (with Nandini Rajagopalan) Working paper, Marshall School of Business. In preparation for manuscript.