For management

Kevin Lewis

November 02, 2017

The Paradox of Family Structure and Plans After Work: Why Single Childless Employees May be the Least Absorbed at Work
Tracy Dumas & Jill Perry-Smith
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming


Existing research shows that positive family experiences can affect work positively. In this article, however, we consider how family can enhance work even when family experiences are not explicitly positive. We draw on boundary theory and cognitive psychology's current concerns theory to consider how employees' family structures and associated after-work activities affect their work absorption. A survey of business school alumni (study 1) revealed that single, childless workers reported lower absorption than workers with other family structures. Further, a daily diary study of university employees (study 2), showed that employees' planned after-work activities explained the relationship between family structure and work absorption. Specifically, single, childless workers anticipated fewer domestic after-work activities, resulting in lower work absorption. Due to similarities between domestic responsibilities and work tasks — e.g., their obligatory and goal-directed nature — anticipating domestic responsibilities after work reinforces, rather than distracts from, the work mindset, thus keeping employees more immersed psychologically in their work. This finding suggests that having a spouse and/or children can affect employees' work absorption positively through the anticipation of domestic duties after work. Thus, our study contributes to a more comprehensive view of how employees' work and non-work lives are connected.

From Playground to Boardroom: Endowed Social Status and Managerial Performance
Fangfang Du
Arizona State University Working Paper, September 2017


By matching a CEO's place of residence in his or her formative years with U.S. Census survey data, I obtain an estimate of the CEO's family wealth and study the link between the CEO's endowed social status and firm performance. I find that CEOs born into poor families outperform those born into wealthy families, as measured by a variety of proxies for firm performance. There is no evidence of higher risk-taking by the CEOs from low social status backgrounds. Further, CEOs from poor families are better able to preserve the firm's human capital during periods of financial distress and demonstrate greater ability to develop successful innovation. As a result, such CEOs perform better in firms with high R&D spending.

The dark side of experiencing job autonomy: Unethical behavior
Jackson Lu et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, November 2017, Pages 222-234


To date, job autonomy has been conceptualized as a job characteristic that elicits positive outcomes. In contrast, the present studies unveiled a potential dark side of experiencing job autonomy: unethical behavior. Using field surveys on Israeli employees, Studies 1 and 2 found that experienced job autonomy not only positively predicted job satisfaction (thus replicating past research), but also positively predicted unethical behavior. Using experimental designs, Studies 3a and 3b drew on actual job autonomy policies from real-world corporations to prime American employees to experience different levels of job autonomy. Compared to participants in the low-autonomy or autonomy-unrelated control conditions, participants in the high-autonomy condition were more likely to behave unethically because they felt less constrained by rules. Moreover, the relationship between experienced job autonomy and unethical behavior was moderated by the importance that participants assigned to having job autonomy, such that the experience of high job autonomy was less likely to elicit unethical behavior from participants for whom having job autonomy was more important. In addition to replicating all of these findings, Study 4 revealed that the experience of high job autonomy simultaneously increased unethical behavior and creativity, further demonstrating job autonomy to be a double-edged sword. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

High-Powered Performance Pay and Crowding Out of Nonmonetary Motives
David Huffman & Michael Bognanno
Management Science, forthcoming


A previous literature cautions that paying workers for performance might crowd out nonmonetary motives to work hard. Empirical evidence from the field, however, has been based on between-subjects designs that are best suited for detecting crowding out due to low-powered incentives. High-powered incentives in the workplace tend to increase output, but it is unknown whether this masks crowding out. This paper uses a within-subject experimental design and finds evidence that crowding out also extends to high-powered incentives in a real work setting with paid workers. There is individual heterogeneity, however, with a minority of workers reporting crowding in of motivation. Thus, the impact of performance pay might depend on the mix of worker types.

You do not have to succeed, just do not fail: When do soccer coaches get fired?
Guy Elaad, Artyom Jelnov & Jeffrey Kantor
Managerial and Decision Economics, forthcoming


This article deals with circumstances leading to the dismissal of a soccer coach. The article is based on results from the Premier League in England over 12 consecutive years. In this paper, we converted the scores of matches (win, draw, and loss) into an index based upon how results were perceived by club owners—those empowered with the decision as to whether or not to fire the coach. The index is based on the difference between the actual and expected results reflected by betting odds. We conclude that to ensure job preservation, the manager does not have to succeed—he just must not fail.

Shopping for Confirmation: How Disconfirming Feedback Shapes Social Networks
Paul Green, Francesca Gino & Bradley Staats
Harvard Working Paper, September 2017


Many organizations employ interpersonal feedback processes as a structured means of informing and motivating employee improvement. Ample evidence suggests that these feedback processes are largely ineffective, and despite a wealth of prescriptive literature, these processes often fail to lead to employee motivation or improvement. We propose that these feedback processes are often ineffective because they represent threats to recipients’ positive self-concept. Because the self-concept is socially sustained, recipients will flee these threats, or otherwise reshape their network to attenuate the negative psychological effects of the threat. Analyzing four years of peer feedback and social network data from an agribusiness company in the Western U.S., we find that employees, in the face of feedback that is more negative than their own self-assessment in a given domain (i.e., disconfirming feedback), reshape their network in ways designed to attenuate the threat brought about by the feedback, and that this behavior is detrimental to their performance. In a laboratory study, we replicate these findings conceptually, showing that disconfirming feedback has such effects on one’s relationships and performance because it is perceived as threatening to one’s self-concept.

Getting Less: When Negotiating Harms Post-Agreement Performance
Einav Hart & Maurice Schweitzer
University of Pennsylvania Working Paper, September 2017


In contrast to prior work that has assumed that negotiated agreements represent the economic value of negotiation outcomes, we demonstrate that the negotiation process can influence post-agreement behavior in a way that changes the economic value of the agreement. Our findings have particular relevance for negotiations for services, and fill a critical gap in our understanding of how negotiations influence performance. Across four studies, we demonstrate that negotiations can harm post-agreement behavior on both effortful and creative tasks. Specifically, we find that wage negotiations can harm productivity. Perceptions of conflict mediate the relationship between engaging in a negotiation and diminished motivation. Compared to not negotiating, individuals who negotiate may secure favorable deal terms, but risk incurring affective, relational, and economic costs. We call for future work to explore negotiations across a broader context of domains (e.g., negotiations for services in addition to goods) and to investigate how the negotiation process affects subsequent behavior (e.g., the provision of services). Our findings suggest that individuals should enter negotiations with caution.

So close and yet so far away: A psychological distance account of the effectiveness of leader appeals
Gijs van Houwelingen, Daan Stam & Steffen Giessner
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming


Contradictory recommendations persist on how leaders best communicate goals to followers. Whereas scholars of visionary leadership recommend emphasizing the desirability of preferred end-states, scholars of goal setting argue that the perceived feasibility of a goal determines motivation. This paper proposes and tests a synthesis based on construal level theory. Under relatively high (i.e., abstract) levels of construal, such as when leader–follower distance is relatively large, leader appeals that emphasize desirability (i.e., desirable appeals) are more likely to be effective than appeals that emphasize feasibility (i.e., feasible appeals). Under relatively low (i.e., concrete) levels of construal, such as when leader–follower distance is relatively small, feasible appeals are more likely to be effective. Two experimental studies in two different countries provide support for our predictions.

Do General Managerial Skills Spur Innovation?
Cláudia Custódio, Miguel Ferreira & Pedro Matos
Management Science, forthcoming


We show that firms with chief executive officers (CEOs) who gain general managerial skills over their lifetime of work experience produce more patents. We address the potential endogenous CEO–firm matching bias using firm–CEO fixed effects and variation in the enforceability of noncompete agreements across states and over time during the CEO’s career. Our findings suggest that generalist CEOs spur innovation because they acquire knowledge beyond the firm’s current technological domain, and they have skills that can be applied elsewhere should innovation projects fail. We conclude that an efficient labor market for executives can promote innovation by providing a mechanism of tolerance for failure.

Do flexible work schedules reduce turnover in U.S. federal agencies?
James Gerard Caillier
Social Science Journal, forthcoming


Agency theory suggests that when agencies adopt flexible work schedules, employees will be more likely to remain with the organization, because these programs demonstrate that the organization cares about their well-being in that flexible work schedules give them more flexibility regarding when, where, and how they perform their work. To test this proposition, cross-sectional panel data at the agency level were obtained from two federal government sources: Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and FedScope. Furthermore, transfers and quits were the two forms of turnover examined. After lagging the independent variables behind turnover over several years so as to provide a robust test of causality, the results show only limited support for agency theory. Specifically, teleworking was found to lower quits. However, teleworking was not found to reduce transfers or turnover, in general. Furthermore, alternative work schedules were not found to have an impact on quits, transfers, or turnover generally.

Managerial time constraints and young worker productivity: Natural experiments with NFL rookies
David Allen & William Curington
Managerial and Decision Economics, forthcoming


The 2011 National Football League lockout and movement of the 2014 draft to a later date compressed the off-seasons preceding the 2011 and 2014 seasons, exogenously tightening time constraints within which managers — head coaches and their staffs — engage in short-run training of players. We exploit these natural experiments to investigate how this impacted the productivity of young workers (National Football League rookies). Results estimated for a sample of over 1,500 rookies support hypotheses emanating from an economic model of worker training time allocation and indicate reduced productivity along several dimensions. Survival analysis shows evidence of shorter player career durations along certain lines, suggesting longer term consequences.

Storm Crowds: Evidence from Zooniverse on Crowd Contribution Design
Sandra Barbosu & Joshua Gans
NBER Working Paper, October 2017


Crowdsourcing - a collaborative form of content production based on the contributions of large groups of individuals - has proliferated in the past decade. Due to this growth, recent research has focused on understanding the factors that affect its sustainability. Prior studies have highlighted the importance of volunteers’ prosocial motivations, the sense of belonging to a community, and symbolic rewards within crowdsourcing websites. One factor that has received limited attention in the existing literature is how the design of crowdsourcing platforms affects their sustainability. We study whether the design element - particularly, the divisibility of contributions (i.e. whether contributing tasks are bundled together or can be carried out separately) - is a factor that affects the level and quality of crowdsourcing contributions. We investigate this in the context of Zooniverse, the world’s largest crowd-sourced science site, in which volunteers contribute to scientific research by performing data processing tasks. Our choice of empirical setting is motivated by the fact that one of the Zooniverse projects, Cyclone Center, underwent a format change that decreased the divisibility of contributions, by bundling together two tasks that were previously separate. We refer to contributions for which both tasks were done as complete, and contributions for which only one task was done as incomplete. In this context, we develop a theoretical model that predicts (i) a positive relationship between contribution divisibility and the total number of contributions (i.e. complete and incomplete) per volunteer, (ii) an ambiguous relationship between contribution divisibility and the number of complete contributions per volunteer, and (iii) an ambiguous relationship between contribution divisibility and the value of complete contributions. We test these predictions empirically by exploiting the format change in Cyclone Center. We find that after the format change, which decreased contribution divisibility, (i) the total number of contributions per volunteer decreased, (ii) the number of complete contributions made by anonymous volunteers increased, while that made by registered volunteers remained unchanged, and (iii) the value of complete contributions increased because anonymous volunteers, who increased their number of complete contributions, contributed high quality contributions. Our results have strategic implications for crowdsourcing platforms because they suggest that the design of crowdsourcing platforms, specifically the divisibility of contributions, is a factor that matters for their sustainability.

Learning from Feedback: Evidence from New Ventures
Sabrina Howell
NBER Working Paper, September 2017


This paper studies how early stage entrepreneurs learn about the quality of their ventures. I assess the effect of negative feedback on venture abandonment using application and judging data from 87 new venture competitions, some of which privately informed ventures of their relative rank. I use a difference-in-differences design and two matching estimators to compare lower and higher ranked losers, across competitions in which they did and did not observe their standing. Receiving negative feedback increased venture abandonment by about 13 percent. The effect occurs quickly, doubles among women founders, and increases with signal precision. It decreases with venture maturity and riskiness.


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