“We Urgently Need to Understand Financial Markets Better”

IESE New York conference shines light on finance


Fabrizio Ferraro

“We urgently need to come to a better understanding of how financial markets really work,” Professor Fabrizio Ferraro leads conference in IESE New York / Photo: Archive

How have financial markets changed in the last decade? What’s their effect on corporations? And how are these corporations responding to greater stakeholder and shareholder engagement?

The financial sector has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. Perhaps due to the increasing centrality of financial markets and the crisis of 2008, interest in the sector has grown significantly across multiple groups. Among these, organizational theorists and economic sociologists are seeing the depth and breadth of their research into financial markets expand exponentially.

IESE New York brought together a number of leading international scholars in this field recently, to showcase and debate some of the major advances being made in institutional theory, categorization and social movement theory to enhance understanding of the financial markets.

Under the academic directorship of Fabrizio Ferraro, professor of Strategic Management at IESE, the conference – "Understanding Finance From an Organizational Theory Perspective" – heard from some of the world’s foremost thinkers in this area from the likes of Wharton, Kellogg, Chicago Booth and MIT Sloan.

How Does the Financial Sector Really Work?

Ferraro opened the conference stressing the "urgent need to understand how the financial sector really works." He called for more to be done in terms of understanding the impact of the financial crisis, and to provide a "roadmap for regulators and corporate leaders in rethinking the role and function of financial institutions in the future."

Management scholars can contribute to this process by building on their understanding of social and organizational processes, he said.

To that end, the conference heard from scholars across a range of topics, from structural perspectives on the financial sector, to social movements, stakeholder and shareholder engagement, and institutional change. Papers were given by Professors Ned Smith of Kellogg; Sinziana Dorobantu of Stern; Matteo Prato of USI; Mary Benner of Carlson; Anne Bowers of Rotman; Daniel Beunza of LSE and Marc Schneiberg, John C. Pock Professor of Sociology at Reed College.

The day was closed with a united call from to "overcome disciplinary barriers" in tackling these phenomena.

"As the financial sector is at the nexus of society, markets and corporations, and is experiencing profound geo-political, regulatory, social and technological changes, it is imperative for researchers to go beyond the narrow pursuit of academic publications, and aim to provide greater understanding of this new and complex world," said Ferraro.

IESE New York: A Hub for Global Business Research

IESE’s New York campus is gaining traction among the global business academic community as a center for research (watch video) and the dissemination of cutting-edge ideas. "Understanding Finance," which was recently held, follows hard on the heels of the "Business Strategy Interfaces and Frontiers" conference at IESE New York earlier in May.

Hosted by IESE Professor of Strategic Management, Pankaj Ghemawat, who is internationally renowned for his work on global strategy, the conference also attracted some of the world’s leading authorities on business research, strategy, psychology, ecology and evolutionary biology.

Ferraro says: "Our New York campus provides an excellent platform for bringing together leading international researchers, and contributes to the development of knowledge to tackle critical social and business problems."