Belated congratulations to Shawn Wick, who successfully defended his dissertation earlier this fall!
The dissertation is titled “Missionaries of Modernization and Managers of Myth: Organizational Legitimacy in the Field of International Development.” The project takes the Peace Corp as a site to examine how development organizations describe themselves and craft narratives to maintain organizational legitimacy in the eyes of external constituencies as well as members of the organization.
The title gives hints at what drew Shawn to this project. A Peace Corp volunteer prior to entering graduate school, Shawn was struck by the religious-like fervor common to many people and organizations in the development community. This basic insight — that development is a culturally-infused domain — set the stage for his analysis of organizational narratives and the basis for the Peace Corp’s legitimacy. Shawn finds that the original narrative developed at the Peace Corp’s inception has really stuck with the organization, and shaped how it has adapted to new political pressures in path dependent ways.
The dissertation is a great read. Shawn is a terrific writer, and really conveys the feel of the milieu that the Peace Corp was operating in over the decades.
The Ron Aminzade and I were co-advisors, and Ann Hironaka and David Chapman were also on the committee.
I think all my University of Minnesota dissertation committees are wrapped up. It has been great to see all the terrific students coming out of Minnesota… and to participate in some small way. The grad program is really impressive (not to mention the faculty!).
Shawn is an assistant professor at Central College in Iowa… and now a PhD! Congratulations, Shawn!