Donald A. Palmer
Research Expertise: Organizational behavior, role of power and politics in corporate decision making and causes of organizational wrongdoing
Consulting: Community health needs assessments, group decision-making facilitation
Professor Donald Palmer is engaged in a series of studies in the area of corporate crime, ethics and social responsibility. His research examines why otherwise law-abiding, ethical and socially responsible people participate in wrongful courses of behavior; in particular, why such individuals join wrongful courses of action that are initiated by others. His conclusions are based on an understanding of basic psychological and social psychological processes that shape human behavior. Palmer has also embarked on a study of the academic field of organization studies.
Palmer brings his research findings to the classroom to apply them to problems of working with and managing others in organizations. In recent years, Palmer has presented his research at the University of Alberta, Simon Fraser University, New York University, Harvard University, Boston College and the University of California (Irvine and Berkeley campuses). He has served as Distinguished Visiting Scholar at INSEAD in France. Palmer served as the editor of Administrative Science Quarterly from 2002-08. He formerly coordinated the UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders, an annual study of women’s participation in management and on the board of the 400 largest California corporations.
Palmer earned his Ph.D. and M.A. in sociology from State University of New York. He received his B.S. in molecular biology from University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Taking One for the Team: Professor Don Palmer’s study of Tour de France dopers shows that loyal cheaters can lead organizations to promote wrongdoing. “This means that the right response against wrongdoing is not more organizational control of what people do, but less pressure to win,” writes Palmer’s long-time colleague Henrich Greve of INSEAD in Singapore.
In this blog, Professor Don Palmer debunks the conventional wisdom about corporate wrongdoing as abnormal. He says MBA students should be taught to “develop a better understanding of the forces that cause them to engage in misconduct and an appreciation of their susceptibility to those forces.”
UC Davis Graduate School of Management Professor Donald A. Palmer writes an article based on his book, “Normal Organizational Wrongdoing.” The dominant perspective on organizational wrongdoing considers it to be an abnormal phenomenon; behavior that is rare, clearly aberrant, perpetrated by people who are abhorrent, and produced by a narrow range of out of whack organizational arrangements. However, new emerging theory and research on organizational wrongdoing present a fundamentally different perspective.
If you think you and your office colleagues are far removed from the deviant behavior of the cheating, dope-using Tour de France cyclists, you might want to think again.
A new study by Professor Don Palmer found that those elite cyclists using performance-enhancing drugs are not unlike Wall Street traders who cheat. Both types of cheaters do so “because of extreme pressure to perform,” according to a news release.
Cyclists who dope in the Tour de France do so for the same reason traders on Wall Street might cheat — because of extreme pressure to perform, according to a new UC Davis Graduate School of Management study.
The study, co-authored by Professor Donald Palmer, an expert on organizational wrongdoing, looked at blood test results of 197 of the best riders on 22 top teams that competed in the 2010 Tour de France. Researchers found that professional cycling is not much different than any big business.
Professor Donald A. Palmer
Drugs, Sweat, and Gears: Organizational Roles, Social Embeddedness, and the Use of Banned Performance Enhancing Substances…”
Professor Donald A. Palmer
Co-Authors: Christopher Yenkey, University of Chicago
Professor Donald A. Palmer
Co-Authors: Valerie Feldman, UC Davis
Here in the Executive Education division, we’ve been thinking an awful lot about risk, ethics, and governance. More specifically, we’re fascinated by the decision making process that can lead to major crises, and the ensuing cover ups. What goes through the executive mind as they look back and wonder: “How did we get here?”
Wrongdoing in and by organizations offends public sensibilities. When people such as Bernard Madoff or firms such as Enron are found to have engaged in shady dealings, news commentators, social critics, and even scholars loudly condemn the offenders. Wrongdoing also damages the firms where it emerges and on whose behalf it is sometimes
Normal Organizational Wrongdoing: A Critical Analysis of Theories of Misconduct in and by Organizations
Oxford University Press
Instances of wrongdoing in and by organizations are prevalent in modern society, perhaps increasingly so in recent years. Why do organizational participants—employees, managers, senior officials—engage in illegal, unethical, and socially irresponsible behavior?
- Best Paper Designation, Academy of Management Annual Meeting.
- Finalist Best Book Award (Terry Award), for the All-Academy of Management.
- Best Book Award, “Normal Organizational Wrongdoing: A Critical Analysis of Theories of Misconduct in and by Organizations” 2013 Social Issues in Management Division of the Academy of Management.
Women may have become a force in other professions, but they remain a conspicuous minority in the board rooms and executive suites of California’s 400 largest public companies.
Men still hold roughly nine of every 10 highest-paid management and board positions, a ratio that continues to remain largely unchanged in the six years the Graduate School of Management has conducted the “UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders.”
Steps can be taken to pinpoint and foil premeditated corporate and white-collar crime committed by workers trying to beat the system for their own self-interest. But what about wrongdoing committed by workers who unwittingly engage in illegal activities that become woven into the fabric of the company?
The survey shows women holding 9.5% of board seats and highest-paid executive positions, which is in line with previous years. Sixteen (4%) of the 400 companies had a woman as chief executive, up from 15 in 2009 and 11 in 2006.”What this suggests is that once you make it into top management, the chances of getting appointed to the board are roughly the same whether you’re a man or a woman,” Professor Donald Palmer said. “If discrimination is taking place, and I think it is, it’s likely taking place at the many lower levels in an organization.”
2010 UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders
A Census of Women Directors and Highest-Paid Executives
The UC Davis Graduate School of Management in partnership with Watermark publishes the annual “UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders: A Census of Women Directors and Executive Officers.”
Our sixth annual study details the presence of women at the very top of the 400 largest publicly held corporations headquartered in the state. Our findings paint a disappointing picture of female representation on the boards and in the executive suites of these high-profile companies.
In this paper Professor Michael Maher and Professor Donald Palmer analyze the mortgage meltdown as a “normal accident” (Perrow, 1984). They begin by briefly outlining normal accident theory; both Perrow’s original version and Mezias’ (1994) subsequent extension. They then use normal accident theory to analyze the mortgage meltdown and draw a few insights from our account. They then consider the relationship between normal accidents and wrongdoing; a vexing question for both normal accident theory and observers of the meltdown.
This past summer Professor Donald Palmer presented his research on organizational wrongdoing in a talk titled “Power Corrupts, But How?: An Analysis of Enron’s Illegal Special Purpose Entities” at Cornell University’s Johnson School and at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Much has been said and written about the perceived increasing “irrelevance” of organizational studies. Concerns about the field’s relevance were a motivating factor for the formation of the journal Organization Science in 1990. Just last year, the Academy of Management Journal published a series of articles that addressed the topic in commemoration of the journal’s 50th anniversary. But there has been very little systematic research on this subject—until now.
Professor Donald Palmer, editor of the Administrative Science Quarterly (ASQ), is gearing up to celebrate the journal’s 50th anniversary.
Training employees to better understand why good people do bad things could be more effective in curbing organizational wrongdoing than ethics training and legal reforms, according to research by Professors Donald Palmer and Michael Maher. “Much wrongdoing is the result of mindless, mundane processes—rules, hierarchy, standard procedures and social influence processes,” says Palmer, who teaches a course on the causes of corporate and white-collar crime.
There are two explanations of organizational crime. The dominant one assumes that people make discrete decisions and develop positive dispositions to engage in crime before embarking on criminal behavior. An emerging alternative assumes that people often embark on criminal behavior through a process and without first developing positive dispositions.