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