The Rosabeth Moss Kanter Award for Excellence in Work-Family Research

Identifying the best-of-the-best research about work and family from around the globe.

About the Kanter Award

Over the past few decades there has been an explosion of research on the relationships between work and non-work life. Researchers studying these issues come from many disciplines and professions, resulting in fragmented awareness of one another’s work. In addition, exchanges of research information among scholars, consultants and corporate practitioners are limited. Many research studies are not well-grounded in theory, slowing the generation of new knowledge. As a result, it has been difficult to develop shared standards for research quality and to avoid redundancies in the research literature. Some excellent studies have failed to have impact because of lack of awareness.

The Kanter Award is given to the authors who publish the best work-family research article during a calendar year (note that “family” is broadly defined). No external nominations are accepted for the award. Instead, every article published in a large number of scientific journals is scrutinized by a large committee of esteemed scholars who generate a list of award candidates.

Through the generous sponsorship of the Workforce Roundtable of the Boston College Center for Work & Family, the standards of quality for work-family research will continue to rise, and actionable findings from the best studies will become more commonplace in business communities to inform policy and best people practices.

Award Criteria

The basic criterion for selection of the Kanter nominees and winners is quality. For researchers, this means scientific rigor. What indicators of rigor do the nominated studies exemplify?

Strong connections to theory
By linking their ideas to theoretical schools of thought, the authors position their studies at the leading edge of existing knowledge. Their findings not only test their own hypotheses, but the propositions of entire theories. As the evidence for or against particular theories mounts, researchers can focus their energies on ideas with the greatest likelihood of being correct.

Large samples
In addition to being large, many of the samples are randomly selected and/or nationally representative. When not large, samples typically comprise hard-to-find or theoretically important groups.

Detailed data
Many of the studies use longitudinal data. The data sources are also diverse, such as policy analysis, time-use studies, in-depth interviews, or public records of organizational performance.

Creativity
Throughout the studies there are many examples of researchers developing creative solutions to research problems. A couple examples from past nominees include working around the problem of trying to develop a representative sample with limited resources and a pool of volunteer respondents (who usually aren’t representative) and using transition to retirement to reveal the dynamics of dividing household labor.

Award Procedures

Structure of the Review Committee
The committee is chaired by Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, professor and director of the Center for Families at Purdue University. Using a variety of criteria, the committee chair invites reviewers to serve. For example, reviewers are selected to represent a variety of scientific fields and institutions. International representation is desirable. Each year, nominees and winners from the prior year are invited to serve on the committee. Volunteers are invited to join the committee via work-family networks and listservs. Both junior and advanced scholars are invited to serve, but most members are senior scholars with long publication records. Membership on the committee rotates on a staggered cycle of approximately three years.

Journals Reviewed
More than 75 journals are typically reviewed for the Kanter competition. The selection of journals is guided using four sources: an empirical study by Bob Drago identifying where most of the work-family literature appears, the journals most frequently appearing in the citation database developed by the Sloan Work-Family Researchers’ Network, and an informal survey of leading researchers about the journals they regularly read. Members of the review panel are also surveyed each year about journals they recommend adding to the list.

Qualifying Articles
The Kanter award is given to the authors of the best work-family research article published during a calendar year. No external nominations are accepted for the award. Instead, every article published in a large number of peer-reviewed scientific journals is scrutinized. The articles must be based on data and innovative (i.e., not summaries of existing research). Both qualitative and quantitative analyses are eligible.

Initial Pool of Nominees
Each reviewer is responsible for examining all articles published during the calendar year in three to five scientific journals. Each journal is examined by at least two reviewers who nominate the articles they felt were written by deserving candidates for the Kanter award. Reviewers also are encouraged to nominate articles that they knew about through other sources.

Second Round
Each of the nominated articles is sent to three or four reviewers who score it according to several standard criteria. Total scores are used to select the Kanter Top 20; the top five article authors become finalists for the award.

Final Round
In the final round, all reviewers score each article. After the winners are chosen, reviewers are asked to recommend revisions to the award process for the following year.

About Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Rosabeth Moss Kanter is the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, specializing in strategy, innovation, and leadership for change. She advises major corporations and governments worldwide, and is the author or co-author of 16 books, including her newest books, Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End and Evolve!: Succeeding in the Digital Culture of Tomorrow. Other award-winning bestsellers include Men & Women of the Corporation, The Change Masters, When Giants Learn to Dance, World Class: Thriving Locally in the Global Economy, and Rosabeth Moss Kanter on the Frontiers of Management. In 2001, she received the Academy of Management’s Distinguished Career Award, its highest award for scholarly contributions, for her impact on management thought, and in 2002, she received the World Teleport Association’s Intelligent Community Visionary of the Year award.

Professor Kanter’s current work focuses on leadership of turnarounds – how winning streaks and losing streaks begin and end – which she is examining in businesses across a variety of industries, major league sports, inner-city schools, and countries whose economic fortunes have changed. She is also interested in the development of new leadership for the digital age – how to guide the transformation of large corporations, small and mid-sized businesses, healthcare, government, and education as they incorporate new technology, create new kinds of alliances and partnerships, work across boundaries and borders, respond to accountability demands, and take on new social responsibilities.

Kanter serves as a senior advisor to IBM’s award-winning Reinventing Education initiative, currently active in 21 sites in the United States and in eight other countries. She is partnering with IBM to bring her leadership models to K-12 education reform.

From 1997 to 1998, she conceived and led the Business Leadership in the Social Sector (BLSS) project at Harvard Business School, including CEOs, senators, and governors in dialogue and a call to action about public-private partnerships for change. From 1989 to 1992, she served as editor of the Harvard Business Review, which was a finalist for a National Magazine Award for General Excellence in 1991. She joined the Harvard Business School faculty in 1986 from Yale University, where she held a tenured professorship starting in 1977; previously, she was a fellow in law and social science at Harvard Law School.

Professor Kanter has received 21 honorary doctoral degrees and more than a dozen leadership awards. She has been named to lists of the 50 most influential business thinkers in the world (ranked in the top 10), the 100 most important women in America, and the 50 most powerful women in the world. Her public service activities span local and global interests. She has been a judge for the Ron Brown Award for Corporate Leadership given at the White House, a member of the board of overseers for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, is a fellow of the World Economic Forum, served on the U.S. Secretary of Labor’s Committee on Skills Gap of the 21st Century Work Force Council and the Massachusetts Governor’s Economic Council (for which she co-chaired the International Trade Task Force), led the effort to establish a Year 2000 Commission for legacy projects for Boston, and currently serves on the Massachusetts Convention Center authority board. She has been a corporate and pension fund director and sits on many civic and nonprofit boards, including City Year, the national urban youth service corps that was the model for Americorps and is now expanding internationally to South Africa and other countries.

Kanter co-founded Goodmeasure Inc., a consulting group, and also serves as a director or advisor for other companies. Her consulting clients include some of the world’s most prominent companies, and she has delivered keynote addresses for major events in the United States and dozens of other countries, sharing the platform with prime ministers and presidents. Goodmeasure Inc. has developed Web-based versions of her leadership and change tools to help embed them in the daily work of organizations everywhere.

Partnerships

The Rosabeth Moss Kanter Award for Excellence in Work-Family Research is a partnership of the Center for Families at Purdue University, the Center for Work and Family at Boston College, and the Boston College Center Workforce Roundtable, a group of leading organizations who sponsor the award.

The Center for Families at Purdue University

The Center for Families provides a way for faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of Purdue to help improve the quality of life for families. We serve as a catalyst to integrate outreach, teaching, and research activities that support families. We increase and enhance collaboration among academic disciplines, professionals, policymakers, corporations, and community organizations to bring about change focused on families. Find out more about the Center for Families.

Boston College Center for Work and Family

Founded in 1990, the Boston College Center for Work and Family is committed to enhancing the quality of life of today’s workforce by providing leadership for the integration of work and life, an essential for business and community success. We serve as a bridge between the worlds of academia and corporate practice, bringing together the world’s top scholars and thought leaders to influence organizational strategy and policy. Our learning and networking community, the Boston College Workforce Roundtable, brings together employers committed to excellence in work-life to shape responses to the demands of work, home, and community in order to enhance employee effectiveness.

The Work and Family Researchers Network

The new Work and Family Researchers Network (WFRN) is an international membership organization of interdisciplinary work and family researchers. The WFRN also welcomes the participation of policy makers and practitioners as it seeks to promote knowledge and understanding of work and family issues among the community of global stakeholders.