Building the legitimacy of whistleblowers: A multi-case discourse analysis


Contemporary Accounting Research

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Départements : Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Mots clés : Whistleblowing; Fraud detection; Role definition; Discourse analysis; Legitimacy; Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)

Evidence suggests society still does not view whistleblowers as wholly legitimate – despite legal protections now offered in some jurisdictions, such as the United States. Drawing on a discourse analysis, (i.e., an examination of statements), we investigate the well-publicized stories of seven whistleblowers from 69 sources, including books, first- and second-hand interviews, websites and videos. Our focus is to examine how whistleblower discourses can build legitimacy by more tightly defining the whistleblower role and demonstrating its alignment with social norms. Using whistleblower self-narratives, we identify four narrative patterns: (1) Trigger(s): the event(s) leading to whistleblowing; (2) Personality traits: whistleblower’s morality, resourcefulness, and determination; (3) Constraints: barriers requiring regulatory and organizational change; and (4) Consequences: the longer-term positive impact of the whistleblowing act. These patterns rely on symbolic, analogical, and metaphorical framing to allow others to better understand the role of whistleblowers and enlist their support. Exploring a dataset of 1,621 press articles, we find indications that these narrative patterns resonate in the media – which provide a form of support and may be instrumental in legitimizing the whistleblower role. Grounded on these results, we develop a legitimacy construction model of the whistleblower role, i.e., a representation of how role legitimacy is produced and sustained. From this model, we identify a number of important areas for future research

Career Stage Dependent Effects of Law Firm Governance: A Multilevel Study of Professional-Client Misconduct


Human Relations

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Départements : Management et Ressources Humaines, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Mots clés : career stage, hierarchical linear model, organizational governance, professional misconduct, professional service firm

Are governance practices employed by professional service firms equally effective in preventing professional-client misconduct for professionals at different stages of their career? Drawing upon professional-agency theory and the literature documenting professional career patterns, we develop a multilevel theoretical model to answer this question. We test our model in the empirical context of the Dutch legal profession, using firm-level survey data on 142 law firms and individual-level archival data from the 2994 lawyers working for these firms to explain 97 formally adjudicated complaints of professional-client misconduct committed by individual lawyers registered with the Amsterdam Bar Association. We find that the ‘orthodox’ distinction between informal behavioral and formal outcome-based governance practices is too course-grained to receive empirical support, and that firm-level governance practices only reduce professional-client misconduct when they are specifically targeted at the career stage of the lawyers employed. Our findings not only allow us to develop a finer-grained version of Sharma’s professional-agency model, but may also be practically useful in developing firm-level governance practices targeted at different strata of professionals

Competing Through Categorization: Product- and Audience-Centric Strategies in an Evolving Categorical Structure


Organization Studies

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Départements : Langues et Cultures

Mots clés : category-level status, competitive dynamics, status within categories, strategic categorization

We investigate how and why competing organizations position their similar products in categories of varying status. We studied the paired longitudinal case of the highly publicized contest between ESSEC and HEC, two French business schools, as they sought to position their core Grande Ecole program in the evolving international business education categorical structure. We conceptualize categorization as a competitive, relational process involving multiple actors and producing various meanings and perceptions. Our study (a) highlights the role of anticipated category status spillovers versus anticipated relative status within a category in producers’ entry decisions; (b) contrasts product- and audience-centric categorization strategies; and (c) shows the role of intermediaries in adjudicating categorization contests

Confidence in belief and rational decision making


Economics and Philosophy

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Départements : Economie et Sciences de la décision, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Mots clés : Confidence, Decision Under Uncertainty, Belief, Rationality

The standard, Bayesian account of rational belief and decision is often argued to be unable to cope properly with severe uncertainty, of the sort ubiquitous in some areas of policy making. This paper tackles the question of what should replace it as a guide for rational decision making. It defends a recent proposal, which reserves a role for the decision maker’s confidence in beliefs. Beyond being able to cope with severe uncertainty, the account has strong normative credentials on the main fronts typically evoked as relevant for rational belief and decision. It fares particularly well, we argue, in comparison to other prominent non-Bayesian models in the literature

Corporate Strategy, Conformism, and the Stock Market


Review of Financial Studies

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Départements : Finance, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Distracted Institutional Investors


Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis

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Départements : Finance

Mots clés : Inattention, Institutional Investors, Trading Behavior

We investigate how distraction affects the trading behavior of professional asset managers. Exploring detailed transaction-level data, we show that managers with a large fraction of portfolio stocks exhibiting an earnings announcement are significantly less likely to trade in other stocks, suggesting that these announcements absorb attention which is missing for the choice of which stocks to trade. Hence, attention constraints can be binding even among this elite group of traders. Finally, we identify two channels through which distraction hurts managers’ performance: distracted managers fail to close losing positions, partly explained by these managers displaying a stronger disposition effect, and incur slightly higher transaction costs

Distracted Noise Traders and Stock Market Liquidity


The Journal of Finance

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Départements : Finance

Do investors pay sufficient attention to banks’ unrealized gains and losses on available-for-sale securities?


European Accounting Review

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Départements : Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Mots clés : Other comprehensive income, Available-for-sale securities gains and losses, Investor reaction, Investor attention, Analyst reaction

Unrealized gains and losses on available-for-sale securities (AFSGL) are included in Other Comprehensive Income (OCI) and directly affect shareholders’ equity but are not included in earnings. We investigate whether unrealized AFSGL help predict future earnings and whether analysts and investors incorporate the information conveyed by unrealized AFSGL in a timely manner. We conduct our investigation on a sample of banks because unrealized AFSGL are material in the banking industry. First, we show that unrealized AFSGL are material and help in predicting next period realized AFSGL and future earnings change. Second, we document that financial analysts are slow to react to unrealized AFSGL and update their forecasts after AFSGL are realized in earnings. Third, we find that investors are also slow to react to unrealized AFSGL and do so only after AFSGL is included (realized) in earnings and after financial analysts update their forecasts. We document an annual difference of 5% in future abnormal returns between banks in the top and bottom quintiles of past unrealized AFSGL. A zero-cost trading strategy that relies on public information about unrealized AFSGL generates a sizeable monthly alpha that ranges between 1.8% and 1.9%

Do stakeholder orientation and environmental pro-activity impact firm profitability?


Journal of Business Ethics

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Départements : Stratégie et Politique d’Entreprise, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Mots clés : Environmental proactivity, Firm profitability, Resource-based theory, Stakeholder orientation, Stakeholder theory

The impact of socially responsible corporate behavior on economic performance is a major preoccupation of managers today. This article explores the links between narrowly defined constructs: stakeholder orientation, environmental proactivity and profitability, from the perspectives of stakeholder theory and resource-based theory. We collected data on the food and beverage, and household and personal products industries. Using structural equation modeling, this paper makes two contributions. We found a negative link between companies simply having a higher stakeholder orientation and profitability. Importantly, however, environmental proactivity not only had a positive impact on profitability, but also appeared to mediate the relationship between stakeholder orientation and profitability. In other words, if a company is more environmentally proactive, it will be more attentive to a broad array of stakeholders, and this will in turn contribute positively to profitability

Does Superposition Influence the Success of FLOSS Projects? Examining Open Source Software Development by Organizations and Individuals


Information Systems Research

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Départements : Information Systems and Operations Management, GREGHEC (CNRS)