SMS Emerging Scholar Award

Inaugurated in 2007, the prize is awarded to a relatively young or new scholar, who displays exemplary scholarship that promises to have an impact on future strategic management practice.

Award Criteria and Details

This award recognizes a portfolio of work that suggests the candidate will make fundamental contributions to the way we think about knowledge essential to achieving durable organizational success. Contributions that complement existing strategic management theory with ideas from other fields and disciplines will be considered. Eligible to be nominated are members of the SMS. The likely winner of the award will:

  • Have completed his/her PhD no more than 10 years and no less than 5 years ago
  • Have a record of publication and professional activity that has demonstrated their work to be significant and with impact

Award Details: 

The recipient of the SMS Emerging Scholar Award will be recognized at an appropriate, significant event at the SMS Annual Conference and receives prize money of US$ 5,000. In addition, the recipient is invited to participate in the SMS Awards & Honors Webinar Series and will be recognized and featured in one of the SMS journals.

Nomination Details: 

To nominate an individual, please provide the following: 

  • A letter of nomination by another SMS member, who is not a faculty member at the same university as the nominated individual
  • Two additional letters of recommendation
  • A full CV for the nominated individual

*Nominations are accepted throughout the year. The deadline for this award is April 15. To submit a nomination, please submit the materials listed above to the SMS Executive Office through the Submittable form.

2021 Award Recipient: Jonathan Bundy

We are honored to present this year’s SMS Emerging Scholar Award to Jonathan Bundy of the WP Carey School of Business, Arizona State University.

Jonathan completed his Ph.D. in Strategic Management and Organization Theory at the University of Georgia in 2014 and has already published extensively, with 13 articles in top-tier outlets such as SMJ, AMJ, AMR, Org. Science and ASQ. The latter has recently granted one of his papers with the ASQ Award for Scholarly Contribution. His research broadly centers on the relationship between business and stakeholders, highlighting specific aspects such as corporate reputation, advocacy, crises and impression management, and corporate governance. These themes are not only essential for emerging research in strategic management, but are also highly relevant to practice and policy making. In particular, his research on stakeholder management highlights the importance of prioritizing both strategic and relational goals in formulating cooperative arrangements. Similarly, his research on corporate reputation focuses on the important trade-offs that managers face in attempting to grow and protect their firms’ reputations—including the idea that reputation can sometimes be a burden in disguise. Finally, his work in crisis management is beginning to unpack the complex processes that firms must navigate when working to recover from highly disruptive events. Jonathan’s research has already received more than 1,700 citations. His strong pipeline of papers under review suggests that his productivity and impact will continue to grow in the coming years. His impressive scholarly record is inspiring and positions him among the emerging leaders in the field of strategic management.

Since the SMS Annual Conference will be held virtually this year, we invited Jon to share a recorded acceptance speech. He has also agreed to participate in the Awards and Honors Webinar series that SMS will host in October and November, 2021.

Jon also participated in a written interview with Dovev Lavie, Chair of the SMS Awards & Honors Committee. In this interview he shares many insights on his career and research. 

Two factors broadly motivated me to become a scholar. The first was a wonderful faculty mentor during my MBA studies at the University of New Mexico. Jeanne Logsdon taught a course on the ethical, political, and social environment of business, and I was hooked from the start. I became her RA and she slowly convinced me to pursue a PhD with an emphasis in strategy/organization theory. Without her guidance I can safely say I wouldn’t be here today (instead, I’d probably be a banker as my MBA concentration was Finance). The second inspiration was my father. He’s a dentist, but he always told this story about the time he declined an offer to join the faculty at The Ohio State University College of Dentistry. It’s one of those life decisions that always bugged him; one of those “what if” moments that I wouldn’t say he regrets, but he definitely wonders about. So, from an early age, I always thought about life in academia and following the unmet wonders of my father. Of course, I’ve always loved learning and feel incredibly comfortable in academic environments, so it was a relatively easy decision in the end, and one that I’ve never thought twice about.

As noted above, I had this great experience in an MBA course on the role of business in society, and stakeholder theory, CSR, and related concepts always resonated with me. At the time, I was also working as an economic development manager for the city of Rio Rancho, New Mexico (a suburb of Albuquerque). My work had a direct impact on important strategic decisions made by the companies we served, and the dynamics of our relationships always fascinated me. I was a government/community agent working with private businesses to create mutually beneficial outcomes. Often our interests were widely divergent, but we were usually able to work through these differences in sometimes surprising ways. My research draws pretty heavily on these experiences, and I’ve recently written about some of them (see Bundy, J. 2019. Considering a behavioral view of stakeholders. In J. S. Harrison, J. B. Barney, R. E. Freeman, & R. A. Phillips (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Stakeholder Theory: 245-249. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.).

I think my main contribution in the space is my work to recognize the balance that is required between the strategic goals and what I might call the expressive or relational goals in any business-stakeholder relationship. Businesses and stakeholders are certainly driven by strategic goals, and any good theory of strategic management must recognize those. But they are also driven by a host of other goals, rooted in their values, beliefs, identities, and worldviews. Much of my research argues and shows that businesses and stakeholders who are able to find the right balance between these goals have the most productive and cooperative relationships. In contrast, relationships that are out of balance—emphasizing one goal over the other—will often struggle and may even be defined by conflict and contestation.

One of the things that I love about our field is the amazing storytelling that we do in our research. Our theories are rich and robust, and they do an incredible job recognizing the inherent messiness that characterizes “real world” business. I think we do storytelling better than many of our sister disciplines. And I think this storytelling is best reflected in our conceptual work. Nearly all of our core theories come from conceptual work, including many of the theories that motivate me the most (e.g., stakeholder theory, upper echelons theory, socio-cognitive theory on reputation and other social evaluations). I write theory to tell my own stories, drawing on these exemplary contributions and trying to address the central problems and observations that I see in the field. And I credit any success to the amazing co-authors that I’ve been able to connect with. I love working with others, and by drawing on the diverse experiences and perspectives of a team, I think we are able to craft better stories that are both appealing and useful to wider audiences.

Much of my current research looks at the unintended side-effects or consequences of things we traditionally view as positive. For example, I’m doing work on the burdens of reputation, the trade-offs in crisis management, and the unanticipated consequences of corporate governance policy. Looking forward, I’m excited to do more research to uncover the “hows” of managing stakeholder relationships. That is, much of my research has focused on explaining the outcomes of stakeholder relationships, and why certain arrangements might be better than others in terms of performance. However, I’ve become more and more interested in the left-side of the model, or how we might structure and arrange for mutually beneficial relationships. I see this as not only theoretically interesting, but also of practical importance, particularly as we become more interconnected in our increasingly digital economy and society.

I believe the concept of stakeholder governance is a particularly promising research area. As noted above, our world is becoming more interconnected, and many of the strategies used for engaging with and serving stakeholders are changing rapidly. Social values are shifting as well, and it looks like the coming generations will be more socially and environmentally conscious. If businesses want to succeed and thrive, I think they need to figure out better ways to connect with these trends. It’s great to see organizations like the Business Roundtable and Blackrock recognize the need to serve multiple stakeholders, but I don’t think we’re even close to understanding the specific structures, arrangements, strategies, and tactics required to achieve these lofty ambitions. My sense is that the new foundational studies in strategic management will be those that help us work towards this understanding.

Study what you love and be ready to weather the storms. For every success I’ve experienced, I’ve had three-fold the number of failures. And it’s hard not to take some of these failures personally or as some kind of sign that I don’t belong. But failure is the best teacher, and as much as it pains me to say, I’ve learned something from every rejection I’ve ever received (of course, sometimes it takes a while to recognize these lessons). A passion for the topics that you study helps cut the sting of failure and keeps you motivated. Finally, work with interesting people. I’ve been able to connect with amazing colleagues from around the world, and many of these relationships have come from unsuspecting places (from conference symposia to barstools, and even cold-call emails). None of us are an island, and I think one of the amazing opportunities of this career is the ability to meet so many unique people. I view every new project as an exciting new adventure, and most of the fun is in the journey.