Alan Meyer

Professor Earns Distinguished Award

Known to graduate students as a professor who is always available for advice, wisdom, and support, Professor emeritus of management Alan Meyer was recognized as “a researcher who goes the extra mile,” with a 2018 OMT (Organization and Management Theory) Distinguished Scholar Award by the Academy of Management.

Several hundred people attended Meyer’s acceptance presentation at the Academy of Management annual meeting in August. Lundquist College of Business Courtesy Professor in Residence Bill Starbuck, a past winner while with a different institution, was also in attendance.

“In this chapter of my life, doctoral education—mentoring PhDs—is the most challenging and rewarding kind of teaching I can do,” Meyer said. “All of my active research projects involve collaboration with a current or former doctoral student. Nothing is as satisfying as seeing someone spread their wings and develop a great career.”

His advice to incoming PhD students: “First, I’d say congratulations – you just picked the best job on the planet! You get to design your job yourself; you get to study whoever and whatever you like—almost anything or anyone that arouses your curiosity. You can tackle an esoteric theoretical puzzle or promote social justice. Plus, you also get to pick your own coworkers.”

“Second, don’t make the rookie mistake of thinking that research is a solitary pursuit. One of my colleagues has written about how it’s a conversation—one that goes on in hallways, at conferences, in emails, and in academic journals. A few ideas truly are so new and radical, they do stand alone. But it’s much better to think of yourself as joining an ongoing conversation.”

“Third, make sure to build a field research component into every study you do. Even if you’re working with secondary or archival data, find some way to get out into the field. Spend time with the people who actually do what you’re studying. Learn to talk to them on their own turf, in their own language. When you come back, you’ll be able to interpret your data better, and it opens a window on fascinating occupational worlds.”

Meyer used his work on the resurrection of Eugene’s identity as TrackTown USA as an example of a study where he worked alongside an Lundquist College doctoral student and a kindred spirit on the faculty, tackling an interesting question in an exotic context.

“We wrote a great paper—and collecting the data gave us a chance to rub shoulders with Olympic athletes, coaches, officials, executives, and fans from all over the world,” Meyer said.

Finally, Meyer tells students they don’t have to trade off quality for quantity.

“There are people out there who really do care about quality—they’re looking for it, they know it when they see it, and they’re prepared to reward it,” he said. “So your goal shouldn’t be to get published, but to get read, and to make a compelling case for your ideas.”

The Academy of Management is a professional association for scholars of management and organizations that was established in 1936. It publishes several academic journals , organizes conferences, and provides forums for management professors and managers to communicate research and ideas. It has nearly 20,000 members spanning more than 120 countries. Since 1980, the Organization and Management Theory Division of the Academy of Management has presented the Distinguished Scholar Award to scholars whose contributions have been central to the intellectual development of the field of organization studies. Each recipient embodies a career of scholarly achievement and has had a significant impact on OMT scholarship.

—AnneMarie Knepper-Sjoblom ’05, Lundquist College Communications