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2019 International Association for Conflict Management Conference

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What is honor? Broadening and rebalancing how cultures of honor are studied in organizational life

Keywords: Honor, culture, path dependence, theory-practice gap

Abstract: This paper proposes to recast and revive the study of honor in organizational life by expanding and reframing how honor is conceptualized. I propose that honor, often considered as an explanation for violence, has suffered from empirical path dependence that has limited our understanding. I build on foundational prior work positing that honor is the tension and balance between a focus on the internal and the external for validation of one’s sense of worth and standing in a social group to argue that honor is better conceptualized more broadly as a system of ethics individuals use to determine what is acceptable and moral in a given context. I propose that honor influences numerous individual and organizational behaviors and outcomes that are neglected by scholarship on honor but are likely to be observed in practice. I discuss several implications of this necessary rebalancing of honor research for theory, measurement, and practice.

Laura Rees, University of Missouri-Kansas City


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