Barely Managing

Kevin Lewis

March 03, 2020

To be or not to be your authentic self? Catering to others’ preferences hinders performance
Francesca Gino, Ovul Sezer & Laura Huang
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, forthcoming


When approaching interpersonal first meetings (e.g., job interviews), people often cater to the target’s interests and expectations to make a good impression and secure a positive outcome such as being offered the job (pilot study). This strategy is distinct from other approaches identified in prior impression management research (Studies 1A, 1B and 1C), and does not produce the benefits people expect. In a field study in which entrepreneurs pitched their ideas to potential investors (Study 2), catering harmed investors’ evaluations, while being authentic improved them. People experience greater anxiety and instrumentality when they cater to another person’s preferences than when they behave authentically (Studies 3A and 3B). Compared to behaving authentically or to a control condition, catering harms performance because trying to anticipate and fulfill others’ preferences feels instrumental and increases anxiety (Studies 4 and 5). Taken together, these results suggest that although people believe using catering in interpersonal first meetings will lead to successful outcomes, the opposite is true: catering creates undesirable feelings of instrumentality for the caterer, increases anxiety, and ultimately hinders performance.

Strategic decisions: Behavioral differences between CEOs and others
Håkan Holm, Victor Nee & Sonja Opper
Experimental Economics, March 2020, Pages 154–180


We study whether CEOs of private firms differ from other people with regard to their strategic decisions and beliefs about others’ strategy choices. Such differences are interesting since CEOs make decisions that are economically more relevant, because they affect not only their own utility or the well-being of household members, but the utility of many stakeholders inside and outside of the organization. They also play a central role in shaping values and norms in society. We expect differences between both groups, because CEOs are more experienced with strategic decision making than comparable people in other professional roles. Yet, due to the difficulties in recruiting this high-profile group for academic research, few studies have explored how CEOs make incentivized decisions in strategic games under strict controls and how their choices in such games differ from those made by others. Our study combines a stratified random sample of 200 CEOs of medium-sized firms with a carefully selected control group of 200 comparable people. All subjects participated in three incentivized games — Prisoner’s Dilemma, Chicken, Battle-of-the-Sexes. Beliefs were elicited for each game. We report substantial and robust differences in both behavior and beliefs between the CEOs and the control group. The most striking results are that CEOs do not best respond to beliefs; they cooperate more, play less hawkish and thereby earn much more than the control group.

Capital market frictions and human capital investment: Evidence from workplace safety around regulation SHO
John (Jianqiu) Bai, Eunju Lee & Chi Zhang
Financial Review, forthcoming


This paper examines the effect of capital market frictions on firms’ workplace safety. Using Regulation SHO as a natural experiment, we find a significant increase in work‐related injury rates of pilot firms. The effect is stronger for firms in more competitive industries and with high financial constraints, and weaker for firms whose employees have high negotiating power and with good corporate governance. Further tests suggest that managers’ myopia shifts their focus away from investments in workplace safety when workplace safety is not related to firm performance. Overall, the results highlight how capital market frictions affect firms’ investment in human capital.

Rivals without a cause? Relative performance feedback creates destructive competition despite aligned incentives
Jan Woike & Sebastian Hafenbrädl
Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, forthcoming


Whether people compete or cooperate with each other has consequences for their own performance and that of organizations. To explain why people compete or cooperate, previous research has focused on two main factors: situational outcome structures and personality types. Here, we propose that — above and beyond these two factors — situational cues, such as the format in which people receive feedback, strongly affect whether they act competitively, cooperatively, or individualistically. Results of a laboratory experiment support our theorizing: After receiving ranking feedback, both students and experienced managers treated group situations with cooperative outcome structures as competitive and were in consequence willing to forgo guaranteed financial gains to pursue a — financially irrelevant — better rank. Conversely, in dilemma situations, feedback based on the joint group outcome led to more cooperation than ranking feedback. Our study contributes to research on competition, cooperation, interdependence theory, forced ranking, and the design of information environments.

Turtle, Task Ninja, or Time Waster? Who Cares? Traditional Task-Completion Strategies Are Overrated
Lisa Vangsness & Michael Young
Psychological Science, forthcoming


Standard approaches for identifying task-completion strategies, such as precrastination and procrastination, reduce behavior to single markers that oversimplify the process of task completion. To illustrate this point, we consider three task-completion strategies and introduce a new method to identify their use. This approach was tested using an archival data set (N = 8,655) of the available electronic records of research participation at Kansas State University. The approach outperformed standard diagnostic approaches and yielded an interesting finding: Several strategies were associated with negative outcomes. Specifically, both procrastinators and precrastinators struggled to finish tasks on time. Together, these findings underscore the importance of using holistic approaches to determine the relationship among task characteristics, individual differences, and task completion.

From Face Time to Flex Time: The Role of Physical Space in Worker Temporal Flexibility
Leroy Gonsalves
Administrative Science Quarterly, forthcoming


Despite the great potential for flexible work policies to increase worker temporal flexibility — the extent to which workers control when and where their work tasks are completed — organizational scholars have found that employees rarely use them for fear of career penalties. This study sheds light on this flexibility paradox by drawing attention to the overlooked yet crucial role of physical space. Using 14 months of field research during an office redesign at a large professional sales organization, I find that a reconfiguration of physical space intended to reduce costs had the unintended consequence of disrupting taken-for-granted greeting practices, noticing practices, and evaluative beliefs. Changes to social practices led employees to feel less concern about trait inferences of dependability and commitment arising from their physical presence and to experience greater temporal flexibility. The findings contribute to a model in which the relationship between flexible work policies and temporal flexibility is moderated by the physical space. By identifying the physical space as a novel determinant of temporal flexibility, the study reveals the structural underpinnings of the flexibility paradox and more generally contributes to our understanding of how physical spaces structure social life in organizations.

The Effects of Prize Structures on Innovative Performance
Joshua Graff Zivin & Elizabeth Lyons
NBER Working Paper, February 2020


Successful innovation is essential for the survival and growth of organizations but how best to incentivize innovation is poorly understood. We compare how two common incentive schemes affect innovative performance in a field experiment run in partnership with a large life sciences company. We find that a winner-takes-all compensation scheme generates significantly more novel innovation relative to a compensation scheme that offers the same total compensation, but shared across the ten best innovations. Moreover, we find that the elasticity of creativity with respect to compensation schemes is much larger for teams than individual innovators.

Cognitive performance is enhanced if one knows when the task will end
Maayan Katzir, Aviv Emanuel & Nira Liberman
Cognition, forthcoming


In two studies, participants performed a switching task, and we provided to only half of them feedback on goal progress (how much of the task still remains). Importantly, this feedback did not inform participants on how well they performed. We found that participants in the feedback condition achieved a higher asymptotic level of performance, reported less fatigue and took shorter breaks between blocks compared to the control condition. These results suggest that asymptotic level of performance reflects not only ability (as is commonly assumed in the literature) but also motivation. We suggest that when people know when a focal task would end, they invest more effort in it because foregoing other activities becomes less costly (i.e., opportunity cost of engaging in the focal activity decreases) and because knowing when a task would end frees the actor from the need to conserve effort. These results suggest a simple, effective and costless way to improve cognitive performance that may be applied in educational and organizational settings.

Paying to Program? Engineering Brand and High-Tech Wages
Prasanna Tambe, Xuan Ye & Peter Cappelli
Management Science, forthcoming


We test the hypothesis that information technology (IT) workers accept a compensating differential to work with emerging IT systems and that employers that invest in these systems can, in turn, capture greater value from the wages they pay. We show that much of the utility IT workers derive from these systems is from skills acquired on the job. This is principally true for younger workers at employers where skill development is encouraged, and the effects are stronger in thicker markets where workers with newer skills have more outside options. An analysis of the text in online employer reviews supports the notion that IT workers value access to interesting IT systems above most other employer attributes. These findings are important because (1) they provide evidence of how worker preferences can influence corporate IT investment decisions, (2) they shed light on factors influencing IT skill development, and (3) they point to a potentially important explanation for returns from IT investments.

Automation, Research Technology, and Researchers’ Trajectories: Evidence from Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
Jeffrey Furman & Florenta Teodoridis
Organization Science, forthcoming


We examine how the introduction of a technology that automates research tasks influences the rate and type of researchers’ knowledge production. To do this, we leverage the unanticipated arrival of an automating motion-sensing research technology that occurred as a consequence of the introduction and subsequent hacking of the Microsoft Kinect system. To estimate whether this technology induces changes in the type of knowledge produced, we employ novel measures based on machine learning (topic modeling) techniques and traditional measures based on bibliometric indicators. Our analysis demonstrates that the shock associated with the introduction of Kinect increased the production of ideas and induced researchers to pursue ideas more diverse than and distant from their original trajectories. We find that this holds for both researchers who had published in motion-sensing research prior to the Kinect shock (within-area researchers) and those who did not (outside-area researchers), with the effects being stronger among outside-area researchers.

Business-to-Business E-Negotiations and Influence Tactics
Sunil Singh, Detelina Marinova & Jagdip Singh
Journal of Marketing, March 2020, Pages 47-68


E-negotiations, or sales negotiations over email, are increasingly common in business-to-business (B2B) sales, but little is known about selling effectiveness in this medium. This research investigates salespeople’s use of influence tactics as textual cues to manage buyers’ attention during B2B e-negotiations to win sales contract award. Drawing on studies of attention as a selection heuristic, the authors advance the literature on mechanisms of sales influence by theorizing buyer attention as a key mediating variable between the use of influence tactics and contract award. They use a unique, longitudinal panel spanning more than two years of email communications between buyers and salespeople during B2B sales negotiations to develop a validated corpus of textual cues that are diagnostic of salespeople’s influence tactics in e-negotiations. These e-communications data are augmented by salesperson in-depth interviews and survey, archival performance data, and a controlled experimental study with professional salespeople. The obtained results indicate that the concurrent use of compliance or internalization-based tactics as textual cues bolsters buyers’ attention and is associated with greater likelihood of contract award. In contrast, concurrent use of compliance and internalization-based tactics is prone to degrade buyer attention and likely to put the salesperson at a disadvantage in closing the contract award.


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