Professor Receives William H. Newman Award

PROVO, Utah – Oct 17, 2017 – Ben Lewis, a strategy professor at the BYU Marriott School of Business, received the Academy of Management’s prestigious William H. Newman Award.

The annual award honors single-authored papers based on a recently completed doctoral dissertation. This year, it was presented in Atlanta, Georgia, at an annual conference held by the Academy of Management—a far-reaching association made up of thousands of worldwide business scholars. Lewis was one of four finalists and two recipients, claiming the win for the Social Issues in Management division.

“I felt extremely honored and, to be honest, quite lucky to receive the award,” Lewis remarks. “Thousands of professors and doctoral students attend the conference every year, and many do great work that is certainly worthy of recognition. But it always feels good to be recognized for your efforts, especially when you devote years to execute, refine, and eventually publish your research.”

Lewis’s paper, “The Paradox of Recognizing Responsibility: Social Ratings, Philanthropy, and the Market for Virtue” discusses rating systems used to incentivize companies to meet a certain standard of generosity. These ratings are meant to influence investors, who will ideally opt to support companies with better rankings.

In his research, however, Lewis discovered a paradox. When a specified standard is set to qualify a company as philanthropic—say, giving 1.5 percent of its profits to charity—this deters companies from giving even more than they otherwise might have, since they can attain the same reputation at a “lower cost.”

“I’m interested in the policy implications of this kind of research, and I think that’s what drives my interest in the topic,” he says. “I take it as a given that there’s this expectation that companies should be socially and environmentally responsible, and then ask the question, ‘How can we get them to behave in that way?’”

Lewis began working on his dissertation nearly five years ago while completing his PhD program at Cornell. Prior to receiving his doctoral degree, Lewis graduated from BYU in 2008 with a master’s degree in accounting. In 2013, he returned to BYU as an assistant professor, where he currently teaches a course on strategy and economics.

“Ben’s work hearkens to his passion for the pursuit of improving people’s lives around the world,” says John Bingham, Department of Management chair. “He strives to be an ‘influence in a world we wish to improve,’ as mentioned in the BYU Marriott mission statement. We’re fortunate to have him in the Department of Management and at BYU.”

The BYU Marriott School of Business prepares men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Named for benefactors J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott, the school is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. BYU Marriott has four graduate and ten undergraduate programs with an enrollment of approximately 3,300 students.

Professor Lewis received the William H. Newman award at the 77th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo provided by Academy of Management.

Media Contact: Jordan Christiansen (801) 422-8938
Writer: Afton Izu