My research explores two broad themes: 1) meaningful work and 2) creativity in organizations. I explore how individuals and groups navigate the tensions, challenge, and struggles which come from pursuing meaning and developing original ideas. I’m especially interested in how these phenomena play out over time (e.g. across projects, over a career). My research generally relies on qualitative field methods.
You can find my current CV here.
Working with an eminent mentor can provide numerous career benefits, yet it can also cast a long shadow. How do individuals move foward with the skills imprinted by their mentor while still crafting their own unique career? In this study, published with Spencer Harrison and Bess Rouse, explore we explore this tension, which we call teh paradox of promise. Using career narratives from former Eames Office employees, we theory how individuals construct career narratives to account for their connection to a famous mentor. In press draft available here.
Understanding tradition-novelty tensions in craft (2nd R&R, Organization Studies)
Commodification and the meaning of work in the National Football League (R&R, Administrative Science Quarterly)
Creative work is valuable but also fraught with tensions and dilemmas. Creative work requires flexibility to try out ideas, discard or revise them while at the same time requiring that individuals and groups be tenaciously committed to their ideas, pushing through setbacks and negative feedback. Attachment to ideas is central to this process, shaping how creators collaborate, are motivated, and relate to their ideas. Existing work has described how individuals connect their ideas to their self-concepts, how they revise ideas in the face of emotionally distressing feedback, and how collective attachment to ideas can emerge. However, we lack an understanding of how individuals navigate attachment to their ideas in relation to the entire creative portfolio they have developed. Particularly in organizational contexts, individuals often work on a portfolio of projects, and are subject to organizational structures (constaints and supports) as they navigate these projects. Through a study of R&D scientists in the pharmaceutical industry, I develop a model of bounded attachment, explaining how creators balance the paradoxical tension of feeling drawn to (and enaged with) developing their ideas, while also placing boundaries to prevent emotional pain if those ideas fail.
This chapter by Mike Pratt and I drills down into a recent addition to the componential model—in 2016—which infused the componential model with theory around meaningfulness. This chapter expands upon this insight to explore two new lines of inquiry: (1) uncovering conditions that motivate different orientations to be creative; and (2) understanding how creative persistence may unfold in the long term. Full text available here: https://gregfetzerphd.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/Fetzer-Pratt-Creavity-and-Meaningful-Work-final.docx
Video has become a methodological tool of choice for many researchers in social science, but video methods are relatively new to the field of organization studies. This article is an introduction to video methods. First, we situate video methods relative to other kinds of research, suggesting that video recordings and analyses can be used to replace or supplement other approaches, not only observational studies but also retrospective methods such as interviews and surveys. Second, we describe and discuss various features of video data in relation to ontological assumptions that researchers may bring to their research design. Video involves both opportunities and pitfalls for researchers, who ought to use video methods in ways that are consistent with their assumptions about the world and human activity. Third, we take a critical look at video methods by reporting progress that has been made while acknowledging gaps and work that remains to be done. Our critical considerations point repeatedly at articles in this special issue, which represent recent and important advances in video methods. Full text available here: https://gregfetzerphd.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/lebaron-et-al-2017-an-introduction-to-video-methods-in-organizational-research.pdf