Societal Impact Award

Sponsored by The University of Exeter 

Scholarly work with societal impact is both scientifically credible and useful to society; it produces societally beneficial knowledge that aims to make the world a better place.  This work will often address but is not limited to, the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, for example, health and well-being, income and social inequality, and the preservation of the environment. In order to both recognize and incentivize such work in organizational behavior, the OB Division is inviting nominations for the OB Division Award for Societal Impact

 This award recognizes a body of work, rather than a single conference submission or published article, given that scholarship addressing grand societal problems is often incredibly challenging, unfolding over many years of persistence.  It may be published in traditional research outlets; however, it can also be evidenced in monographs, policy papers, books, curriculum, or interventions that may not receive recognition in other forums.  Yet, through its application of organizational behavior scholarship, it has the potential to change the world.

To be eligible for this award, the scholar’s work must: (1) Address problem(s) that relate to timely and important societal challenges in the business, economic, societal, or environmental spheres that fall within the domain of organizational behavior, (2) Provide actionable knowledge or insights for potential policies or practices to improve the well-being of people (employees, customers, suppliers) beyond business and economic success, (3) Demonstrate strong credibility, (4) Be useful for policy or practice within the domain of organizational behavior (i.e., relevance for managers, employees, business, or society).  

An Award Committee comprised of organizational behavior scholars and practitioners will assess the nominations using these criteria and recommend a winner to be announced at the 2022 OB Division Award Ceremony at the Academy of Management Annual Conference. 

The winner of 2022: Carrie Leana

Carrie Leana’s research has been deeply theoretical but has also tackled very important societal problems. Leana’s research findings have affected policy and practice related to job loss, urban public schools, direct care workers and financial precarity, demonstrating how rigorous research can generate actionable insights that address societal challenges and thereby improve well-being outcomes.

Leana’s work on unemployment and re-employment informed the development of policies for the Steel Valley Authority, a public authority aimed at layoff aversion, responsible investment and innovative economic policy. Findings from her study of financial precarity (Meuris & Leana, 2018) resulted in the implementation of a “Rainy Day Savings Program” by a large transportation company, which matched employee contributions to a short-term savings program meant to enhance employee financial stability (Leana, Kamran-Morley, Yang & Berkowitz, 2021).  The results showed that the program was beneficial for employees in terms of increasing their savings, and beneficial for the company, in that those employees who were most precarious were significantly safer drivers after enrolling in the program. 

The findings from Leana’s work with nursing home aides led to changes in employee development practices and supervisor responsibilities.  For example, in a large healthcare system where she conducted this research (Leana, Meuris & Lamberton, 2019), nursing home supervisors’ own performance appraisals were changed to include employee retention as a criterion for assessment. Leana’s work on teacher social capital informed the practices at the Metro Nashville Public Schools, a 160-school system.  Here, school principals implemented practices meant to enhance social capital among teachers in their schools. 

 These examples highlight the impact that Carrie Leana’s research findings have had on policy and practice and illustrate why she is an ideal recipient of the Societal Impact Award!

Past award winners: