Associate Professor of Business Administration, Marvin Bower Fellow
Michel Anteby is an Associate Professor and Marvin Bower Fellow in the Organizational Behavior area at the Harvard Business School. He teaches in the School's MBA, doctoral, and executive programs, most recently the second-year MBA elective "Managing Human Capital" course, the doctoral "Design of Field Research Methods" course, and in the executive “Leading Change and Corporate Renewal” and “Talent Management” programs.
His research mainly examines occupational and organizational cultures. More specifically, he tries to understand how meaning is built at work and how moral orders are sustained. He has pursued these questions through the lens of diverse social groups (e.g., academics, clinical anatomists, and factory craftsmen). In doing so, he has looked at the many ways individuals sustain chosen cultures and identities: for instance, by engaging in collective forgetting or deviant behaviors. Field settings for these inquiries include whole-body donation programs, manufacturing workshop, and higher-education.
He is the author of Manufacturing Morals: The Values of Silence in Business School Education (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming) and Moral Gray Zones: Side-Productions, Identity, and Regulation in an Aeronautic Plant (Princeton University Press, 2008). His work has appeared in the Academy of Management Journal, Administrative Science Quarterly, Ethnography, Organization Science, Social Science & Medicine, and Sociologie du Travail. He serves on the editorial boards of Administrative Science Quarterly and Organization Science.
Michel earned a joint Ph.D. in sociology from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS, Paris) and in management from New York University. He holds a MA in economics from the Sorbonne and a MPA from Harvard. He grew up in France, previously worked as a consultant (focusing on labor issues), and remains affiliated as a Research Fellow with the Centre de Sociologie des Organisations in Paris.
Automating the Paris Subway (case)
In 2001, the head of the Paris Subway reflected on how to transform Line 1 into a driverless line without triggering a social conflict. After the shock of the 2000 Notre Dame de Lorette subway accident, in which a train derailed and caused 25 people to be injured in a subway station, the state-owned Paris subway operator Regie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP) decided to adopt new security measures and to automate the oldest and the busiest line of the network. The Head of the Paris Subway, Serge Lagrange, believed that automating Line 1 would improve security as well as performance. However, the automation would bring about the downsizing of 219 drivers' positions. Lagrange had to figure out how to get the RATP employees on board, particularly drivers and trade unions. How could he convince them of the necessity to automate Line 1? How could he prevent the potentially major social conflict that might result from downsizing the drivers' positions?
Relaxing the Taboo on Telling our Own Stories: Upholding Professional Distance and Personal Involvement (article)
Scholars studying organizations are typically discouraged from telling, in print, their own stories. The expression “telling our own stories” is used as a proxy for field-research projects that, in their written form, explicitly rely on a scholar’s personal involvement in a field. (By personal involvement in a field, I mean a scholar’s engagement in a set of mental activities that connect her to a field.) The assumption is that personal involvement is antithetical to maintaining professional distance. In this paper, I argue that the taboo on telling our own stories stems in part from an epistemological misunderstanding...
Manufacturing Morals: The Values of Silence in Business School Education (book)
Corporate accountability is never far from the front page and Harvard Business School trains many future business leaders. But how does HBS formally and informally ensure its members embrace proper business standards? Relying on his first-hand faculty experience, Michel Anteby takes readers inside the School to draw vivid parallels between the socialization of faculty and of students.
In an era when many organizations are focused on principles of responsibility, HBS has long tried to promote better business standards. Anteby’s rich account reveals the surprising role of silence in HBS’s process of codifying morals and values. As he describes, specifics are often left unspoken; for example, teaching notes given to faculty provide much guidance on how to teach but are largely silent on what to teach. Manufacturing Morals demonstrates how faculty and students are exposed to a system that operates on open-ended directives that require significant decision-making on the part of those involved, with little overt guidance from the hierarchy. Anteby suggests that this model - which tolerates moral complexity - is perhaps one of the few that can adapt and endure over time.
Manufacturing Morals is a perceptive must-read for anyone looking for insight into the moral decision-making of today’s business leaders and those influenced by and working for them.
Markets, Morals, and Practices of Trade: Jurisdictional Disputes in the U.S. Commerce in Cadavers (article)
This study examines the U.S. commerce in human cadavers for medical education and research to explore variation in legitimacy in trades involving similar goods. It draws on archival, interview, and observational data mainly from New York state to analyze market participants' efforts to legitimize commerce and resolve a jurisdictional dispute. Building on literature on professions, the study shows that how goods are traded, not only what is traded, proves integral to constructing legitimacy, thus suggesting a practice-based view of moral markets. The study's findings shed light on the micro-foundations of market legitimization and on the role of morals in sustaining professional jurisdictions.