Prof Susi Geiger, Principal Investigator
Too Many Cooks or too many Recipes? An analysis of the institutional landscape and proliferation of proposals for Global Vaccine Equity for COVID-19
Geiger, Susi & McMahon, Aisling (2021)
If it’s free, you are the product – The perils of assetizing consumers’ genetic profiles
Geiger, Susi & Gross, Nicole (2021)
There’s an old adage that encapsulates our relationship to many of the digital products we consume, from social media to apps to email programs: “If it’s free, you’re not the customer, you’re the product”. But what happens in an industry where this ‘you’ really means – well, you? Your genetic profile and other health information about you? Information that you may never thought you’d share?
Our paper ‘A Tidal Wave’ explores the business models of consumer genomics companies, such as 23andMe or Ancestry, to find out how the consumer becomes the product in this industry, or as we phrase it, how these companies ‘assetize’ their genomic databases. There’s a lot of talk about data privacy in healthcare, which is great; after all, information about our health really is the most sensitive of all data. However, we think that one can only really understand how privacy can be safeguarded when we understand how companies profit from this data.
Markets and institutional fields: foundational concepts and a research agenda
Mountford, Nicola & Geiger, Susi (2021)
We borrow the notion of field from institutional theory to think through how markets and their ‘outsides’–or at least one particular manifestation of an ‘outside’–stand in a dynamic and interactive relationship. We distinguish the field and the market in terms of issues versus exchange and identity versus position. We argue that the lack of clarity as to how fields and markets differ, relate, overlap, and are bounded, jeopardizes our ability to address important societal debates concerning the roles of markets within and across other areas of social life. It also hinders a consolidation of insights across different approaches to studying markets, even though researchers from different disciplines often address similar concerns. Key questions for which both conceptual and analytical clarity are essential include how markets and their ‘outsides’ (here: fields) intersect; whether and how diverse sets of actors interact, work, and migrate between fields and markets; and what dynamics may be observable between field and market. We provide four illustrative examples of field/market relationships and a theoretical, methodological, and empirical research agenda for future research into markets and their ‘outsides’.
Market mash ups: The process of combinatorial market innovation
Geiger, Susi & Kjellberg, Hans. (2020)
This paper investigates market innovation that takes place at the intersection of previously weakly connected markets. Based on a longitudinal study of the development of the digital therapeutics market, we delineate the concept of combinatorial market innovation as a market innovation process that is characterized by the deliberate synthesis of market subprocesses from two (or more) existing markets. We develop a conceptualization of combinatorial market innovation related to five market subprocesses (configuring exchange agents, qualifying offerings, fashioning modes of exchange, generating market representations, and establishing market norms). Focusing on how these processes interact, we identify three distinct types of intertwinement – sequential interrelation, mutual reinforcement, and interference. We also reflect on the need for market innovation studies to more strongly consider overlaps and adjacencies between markets and market systems.
Duos and duels in field evolution: How governments and interorganizational networks relate
Mountford, Nicola., & Geiger, Susi. (2020)
We live in an era where models of governing are changing rapidly under multifaceted evolutionary pressures and where, at the same time, organizational fields are becoming increasingly networked. With this paper, we add to the field dynamics literature, focusing on the space where these evolutionary pressures coincide – the interactions of Governments and interorganizational networks. We examine the roles that interorganizational networks play in relation to Government actors under particular long- and short-term institutional and governance conditions. We articulate four roles that networks may play in relation to Government: advocate, technology, judge and ruler. We argue that long-term institutional logics, combined with short-term Government action in response to a particular field evolution, may predict the role that the interorganizational network will assume in relation to Government in that particular field scenario. We discuss flows through the typology as conditions change and we conclude by presenting an agenda for future research in the field dynamics and interorganizational networks research domains that leverages our proposed network role typology.
Silicon Valley, Disruption and the End of Uncertainty
Geiger, Susi. (2020)
This paper reflects on the relationship between high-tech disruption narratives and uncertainty. My main argument is that an economic sociology of the future is incomplete without addressing the ‘demonic’ or rather eschatological elements apparent in the promissory twin rhetoric of disruption and inevitability that a number of contemporary technology firms employ. The conjuring up of liberatory high-tech futures implicates a political-philosophical perspective of the end game. It utilizes at once the productive power of uncertainty to create visions of ‘absolute riches’ and societal gain but at the same time narrows these futures down to one inevitable alternative to the status quo. Through the examples of two Silicon Valley disruptor firms, I argue that these eschatological narratives need to be opened to social scientific critique in order to examine their potential societal consequences above and beyond the narrow geographic confines of ‘the Valley.’
A tidal wave of inevitable data?
Assetization in the consumer genomics testing industry
Geiger, Susi – University College Dublin,
Gross,Nicole – National College of Ireland
We bring together recent discussions on data capitalism and bio-capitalization by studying value flows in consumer genomics firms – an industry at the intersection between healthcare and technology realms. Consumer genomics companies market genomic testing services to consumers as a source of fun, altruism, belonging and knowledge. But by maintaining a multisided or platform business model, these firms also engage in digital capitalism, creating financial profit from data brokerage. This is a precarious balance to strike: If these companies’ business models consist of assetizing the pool of genomic data that they assemble, then part of their work has to revolve around obscuring to consumers any uncertainties that would potentially impinge on these processes of assembly. We reflect on the nature of these practices and the market relationships that enable them, and we relate this reflection to debates around alternative market arrangements that would potentially mitigate the extractive tendencies of these and other digital health firms.
Market Failures and Market Framings: Can a Market be transformed from the inside?
Geiger, Susi and Gross, Nicole (2018):
Organization Studies v39 (10) pp 1357 – 1376.
How do actors innovate markets in cases of perceived market failures? This paper’s aim is to examine what happens when a market is innovated or, as we call it, ‘redevised’ in situations where public and commercial interests significantly diverge. Market devices can serve an important function in such attempts to innovate markets: they are material and/or social arrangements that are put into place to shape the market in question in certain ways. But can such devices really transform a market from within? To examine this question we trace the history of the Geneva Medicines Patent Pool, a civil society initiative introduced to change pharmaceutical firms’ licensing and collaboration practices in the market for HIV/AIDS medicines. Our empirical results indicate that redevising a market in response to market failures can shift the market’s frames and contribute to altering its practices, but that this is a pragmatic and often lengthy process that is never fully predictable in advance. By attending to the intended and unintended consequences – or misfires – of redevising a market, our study raises important questions around acting in and on the market, market innovation’s’ ontological impact, zooming in and zooming out when studying redevising, and attending to the temporality of market innovation.
Economic Ordering for Multiple Values
Edited by Susi Geiger, Associate Professor of Marketing, University College Dublin, Ireland, Debbie Harrison, Associate Professor, BI Norwegian Business School, Norway, Hans Kjellberg, Associate Professor, Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden and Alexandre Mallard, Director of the Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation, Ecole des Mines ParisTech, France
When political, social, technological and economic interests, values, and perspectives interact, market order and performance become contentious issues of debate. Such ‘hot’ situations are becoming increasingly common and make for rich sites of research. With expert empirical contributions investigating the organization of such ‘concerned’ markets, this book is positioned at the centre of the rapidly growing area of interdisciplinary market studies. Markets investigated include those for palm oil, primary health care and functional foods. The authors also examine markets and environmental concerns as well as better market design for those at the bottom of the pyramid.
Dr Théo Bourgeron – Post Doctoral Research Fellow
‘Let the virus spread’.
A doctrine of pandemic management for the libertarian-authoritarian capital accumulation regime
Bourgeron, Théo (2021)
Debates have grown around the initial COVID-19 response of radical right-wing governments such as those of the UK, the US and Brazil. These governments initially let the virus spread among the population and delayed the enforcement of strong social distancing measures such as a lockdown. Focusing on the UK’s early response to COVID-19, this article builds on Nicos Poulantzas’ Marxist theory of the state to highlight how this pandemic management doctrine stemmed from changes in the UK’s capitalist class. It traces the ideological grounding of this doctrine, relating it to the rise of libertarian think tanks in British conservative circles and shifts in the policy committees in charge of pandemic preparedness. It suggests that this pandemic response is an episode of the ongoing replacement of the dominant neoliberal accumulation regime with a new libertarian-authoritarian one and examines how this latter materialises the interests of an emerging group of ‘disaster capitalists’. Therefore, it takes the COVID-19 crisis as an example of how the reconfiguration of capitalist accumulation regimes articulates a new doctrine of catastrophe management, radical right-wing ideologies, libertarian-authoritarian institutions and the growing power of capitalist actors able to profit from extreme events.
Constructing the Double Circulation of Capital & “Social Impact.”
An Ethnographic Study of a French Impact Investment Fund.
Bourgeron, Théo (2020)
Historical Social Research 45 (3): 117-139.
»Die Konstruktion der doppelten Zirkulation von Kapital und ,sozialem Impact‘. Eine ethnographische Studie über einen französischen Impact- Investitionsfond«.
Elaborating on a three-month ethnography of an impact investing fund called Impact Equity, this article aims to understand the mechanisms at work in the emergence of the impact investing sector. After presenting the case of Impact Equity (section 1), the article details the norms and devices through which impact investing is constructed in everyday financial work (sections 2 and 3) and investigates how impact investors mobilise moral beliefs and strategic motivations to navigate competing definitions of “social impact” (section 4). In doing so, this article outlines how the construction of the sector has involved the creation of channels enabling capital and “social impact” to circulate between institutional investors, impact investment funds, and “impactful businesses,” and it highlights the historical tensions that this process has involved.
Dr Emma Stendahl, Post Doctoral Research Fellow
Control changes in multinational corporations: Adjusting control approaches in practice
Stendahl Emma, Schriber Svante, Tippmann Esther (2020).
Journal of International Business Studies
The issue of control in multinational corporations (MNCs) is central to international business scholarship. However, prior literature tends to provide a static perspective offering few theoretical insights on control changes, especially the practices that enable control adjustments. Adopting a practice theory perspective, we consider control as ‘‘in the making’’ whereby adjustments emerge through a social accomplishment, constituted and reconstituted as headquarters and subsidiaries engage in a co-creating process. Using a longitudinal case study approach, we had the rare opportunity to track and compare an unsuccessful and a successful attempt to adjust control in an MNC over time. Our main theoretical contribution is a model of adjusting control in MNCs that details the practices that enable control changes. This model offers theoretical implications for organizational control theory in MNCs, especially in relation to theorizing the subsidiary contribution in the design of control, the reconciliation of raised tensions in headquarters–subsidiary relationships, and the nature of unintended consequences in the adjustment process. Our study also contributes to theories on MNC change, as it details the construction of an ongoing strategy–structure alignment for strategic flexibility.
Normative positions towards COVID-19 contact-tracing apps: findings from a large-scale qualitative study in nine European countries
Federica Lucivero, …Ilaria Galasso, … Fernandos Ongolly, … Emma Stendahl & Ine Van Hoyweghen (2021)
Mobile applications for digital contact tracing have been developed and introduced around the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Proposed as a tool to support ‘traditional’ forms of contact-tracing carried out to monitor contagion, these apps have triggered an intense debate with respect to their legal and ethical permissibility, social desirability and general feasibility. Based on a large-scale study including qualitative data from 349 interviews conducted in nine European countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, German-speaking Switzerland, the United Kingdom), this paper shows that the binary framing often found in surveys and polls, which contrasts privacy concerns with the usefulness of these interventions for public health, does not capture the depth, breadth, and nuances of people’s positions towards COVID-19 contact-tracing apps. The paper provides a detailed account of how people arrive at certain normative positions by analysing the argumentative patterns, tropes and (moral) repertoires underpinning people’s perspectives on digital contact-tracing. Specifically, we identified a spectrum comprising five normative positions towards the use of COVID-19 contact-tracing apps: opposition, scepticism of feasibility, pondered deliberation, resignation, and support. We describe these stances and analyse the diversity of assumptions and values that underlie the normative orientations of our interviewees. We conclude by arguing that policy attempts to develop and implement these and other digital responses to the pandemic should move beyond the reiteration of binary framings, and instead cater to the variety of values, concerns and expectations that citizens voice in discussions about these types of public health interventions.