Business prof wins award for article

By Veronika Janik

University of Calgary professor Peter Sherer recently won the 2002 Best Article Award from the Academy of Management. Titled “Institutional Change in Large Law Firms,” the article was one of 450 papers received, of which 40 are published, and only one prevails.

"I’ve won some research awards before but nothing of this magnitude. It’s a major professional accomplishment," said Sherer, who teaches in the Human Resources and Organizational Dynamics area in the Haskayne School of Business. "Given the rarity of it, I was really only trying to do good work and something like this is really an honour."

Based on five points of detailed criteria, the article examines how competitive pressures drive large law firms to adopt innovative human resource management practices. However, these pressures are not enough to create change. It takes the prestige of key firms, acting as pioneers, for change to occur.

"The odds for winning this award are extremely small," stated Daphne Taras, Associate Dean of Research for the Haskayne School of Business. "He is an outstanding researcher and an award-winning teacher."

Sherer attended the award convention in Seattle in August.

"There were 2000 people at the luncheon, professors from all around the world and you don’t know what the outcome is," said Sherer. "You never expect awards. You hope but you never know. It was a great surprise."

Taras said it was "his creativity and rigor that made his work shine," while Sherer, who has conducted extensive research prior stated this "was a paper that just came together." However, it was not done without the insight and use of other works.

"Mainly Jeff Pfeffer from Stanford and Huseyin Leblebici from the University of Illinois. A lot of their work was inspirational," claimed Sherer. "When I received the award I was thrilled, I was happy for myself and for the school."

Future plans for the professor are simply stated with modesty.

"I don’t try to win awards, but I do want to continue to do research and remain at the university," said Sherer. "This is such a precious award but there are many other good people."