Moving off the Map: How Knowledge of Organizational Operations Empowers and Alienates
Organization Science, forthcoming
This paper examines how employees become simultaneously empowered and alienated by detailed, holistic knowledge of the actual operations of their organization, drawing on an inductive analysis of the experiences of employees working on organizational change teams. As employees build and scrutinize process maps of their organization, they develop a new comprehension of the structure and operation of their organization. What they had perceived as purposively designed, relatively stable, and largely external is revealed to be continuously produced through social interaction. I trace how this altered comprehension of the organization’s functioning and logic changes employees' orientation to and place within the organization. Their central roles are revealed as less efficacious than imagined and, in fact, as reproducing the organization's inefficiencies. Alienated from their central operational roles, they voluntarily move to peripheral change roles from which they feel empowered to pursue organization-wide change. The paper offers two contributions. First, it identifies a new means through which central actors may become disembedded, that is, detailed comprehensive knowledge of the logic and operations of the surrounding social system. Second, the paper problematizes established insights about the relationship between social position and challenges to the status quo. Rather than a peripheral social location creating a desire to challenge the status quo, a desire to challenge the status quo may encourage central actors to choose a peripheral social location.
Open for Learning: Encouraging Generalization Fosters Knowledge Transfer in Negotiation
Jihyeon Kim, Leigh Thompson & Jeffrey Loewenstein
Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, forthcoming
We examined whether encouraging managers to attend to underlying principles in negotiation training examples rather than contextual specifics fosters openness to learning and enhances subsequent knowledge transfer to new negotiation situations. In an experimental study, 420 managers read a negotiation case study example set in a familiar or unfamiliar industry and answered either broadening or narrowing questions about an example. Managers given broadening questions about an example set in an unfamiliar industry were more open to learning than managers who were asked narrowing questions about an example set in a familiar industry. Openness to learning in turn fostered successfully applying the key negotiation principle to resolve a subsequent face‐to‐face negotiation. The findings suggest that negotiation training for professionals is unlikely to meet its intended purpose if it relies on offering managers examples set in their own industries and encouraging them to answer questions about the contextual specifics of those examples.
“Take it or leave it!” A choice mindset leads to greater persistence and better outcomes in negotiations
Anyi Ma, Yu Yang & Krishna Savani
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, July 2019, Pages 1-12
Negotiators often elicit concessions from their counterparts by using ultimatums. The present research asks: Why do some negotiators either concede to ultimatums or leave the bargaining table, whereas others simply ignore ultimatums and continue negotiating? Six studies examined the role of a choice mindset. Negotiators who recalled their past choices perceived greater negotiation room than negotiators who recalled past no-choice actions (Study 1). Negotiators who thought about their counterpart’s choices (rather than constraints) were more willing to persist (Study 2), and this relationship was mediated by greater perceived negotiation room (Studies 3 and 4). A choice mindset also helped negotiators achieve better outcomes (Study 5). Finally, Study 6 compared the relative strengths of thinking about different types of choices (e.g., one’s own choices vs. one’s counterpart’s choices both within and outside the negotiation). The findings identify the choice mindset as a novel intervention to enhance persistence and improve negotiation outcomes.
Variable pay: Is it for the worker or the firm?
Jason Allen & James Thompson
Journal of Corporate Finance, October 2019, Pages 551-566
Why do firms pay their workers with variable pay? The standard explanation appeals to a problem that the worker faces, e.g., agency. We develop a model of variable pay endogenously driven by the capital structure problem of the firm, and not a worker related problem. If workers face a low probability of job termination, firms use more variable pay, and more leverage. This can have important implications for understanding compensation practices in organizations. We provide empirical evidence consistent with firms using variable pay to increase leverage.
Data Analytics Supports Decentralized Innovation
Lynn Wu, Bowen Lou & Lorin Hitt
Management Science, forthcoming
Data-analytics technology can accelerate the innovation process by enabling existing knowledge to be identified, accessed, combined, and deployed to address new problem domains. However, like prior advances in information technology, the ability of firms to exploit these opportunities depends on a variety of complementary human capital and organizational capabilities. We focus on whether analytics is more valuable in firms where innovation within a firm has decentralized groups of inventors or centralized ones. Our analysis draws on prior work measuring firm-analytics capability using detailed employee-level data and matches these data to metrics on intrafirm inventor networks that reveal whether a firm’s innovation structure is centralized or decentralized. In a panel of 1,864 publicly traded firms from the years 1988–2013, we find that firms with a decentralized innovation structure have a greater demand for analytics skills and receive greater productivity benefits from their analytics capabilities, consistent with a complementarity between analytics and decentralized innovation. We also find that analytics helps decentralized structures to create new combinations and reuse of existing technologies, consistent with the ability of analytics to link knowledge across diverse domains and to integrate external knowledge into the firm. Furthermore, the effect primarily comes from the analytics capabilities of the noninventor employees as opposed to inventors themselves. These results show that the benefit of analytics on innovation depends on existing organizational structures. Similar to the IT–productivity paradox, these results can help explain a contemporary analytics–innovation paradox — the apparent slowdown in innovation despite the recent increase in analytics investments.
Personal infidelity and professional conduct in 4 settings
John Griffin, Samuel Kruger & Gonzalo Maturana
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 13 August 2019, Pages 16268-16273
We study the connection between personal and professional behavior by introducing usage of a marital infidelity website as a measure of personal conduct. Police officers and financial advisors who use the infidelity website are significantly more likely to engage in professional misconduct. Results are similar for US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) defendants accused of white-collar crimes, and companies with chief executive officers (CEOs) or chief financial officers (CFOs) who use the website are more than twice as likely to engage in corporate misconduct. The relation is not explained by a wide range of regional, firm, executive, and cultural variables. These findings suggest that personal and workplace behavior are closely related.
Measuring the Impact of Own and Others' Experience on Project Costs in the U.S. Wind Generation Industry
John Anderson, Gordon Leslie & Frank Wolak
NBER Working Paper, July 2019
We investigate the relationship between accumulated experience completing wind power projects and the cost of installing wind projects in the U.S. from 2001-2015. Our modeling framework disentangles accumulated experience from input price changes, scale economies, and exogenous technical change; and accounts for both firm-specific and industry-wide accumulated experience. We find evidence consistent with cost-reducing benefits from firm-specific experience for that firm’s cost of future wind power projects, but no evidence of industry-wide learning from the experience of other participants in the industry. Further, our experience measure rapidly depreciates across time and distance, suggesting a stable industry trajectory would lower project costs.
The Effect of a Context‐Specific Primed Goal on Goal Commitment and Team Performance
Gary Latham, Jing Hu & Jelena Brcic
Applied Psychology, forthcoming
The effect of a context‐specific prime for cooperation on goal commitment and team performance were examined. In the first experiment, the participants (n = 139) performed the Lost on the Moon simulation (Hall & Watson, 1970) individually and as a team (n = 50). The teams were randomly assigned to a condition where they were assigned the same goal. They were then primed (n = 23) through a photograph of cooperation or to the control condition (n = 27). Consistent with NASA’s directions for performing the simulation, performance was measured by how well a team performed relative to the answers of experts, namely, staff at NASA. The results showed that a primed behavioural goal to cooperate has a positive effect on team performance. These results were replicated in a second and third experiment involving a social dilemma where both a pro‐social, group‐centric goal and a pro‐self, egocentric goal could be self‐set for the amount of points to make. Thus the positive effect of a goal primed for cooperation on a team’s performance was shown to be robust even when there was an explicit mixture of cooperative and competitive incentives. This finding was replicated in a third experiment with actual money. Consistent with goal setting theory, commitment to the team’s goal moderated the primed goal‐performance relationship.
The gravitational pull of expressing passion: When and how expressing passion elicits status conferral and support from others
Jon Jachimowicz et al.
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, July 2019, Pages 41-62
Prior research attributes the positive effects of passion on professional success to intrapersonal characteristics. We propose that interpersonal processes are also critical because observers confer status on and support those who express passion. These interpersonal benefits of expressing passion are, however, contingent on several factors related to the expresser, perceiver, and context. Six studies, including entrepreneurial pitches from Dragons’ Den and two pre-registered experiments, establish three key findings. First, observers conferred status onto and increased their support for individuals who express passion; importantly, expressing passion affected how admired — but not how accepted — someone was. Second, these effects were weaker when passion was expressed in an inappropriate manner/context, and when observers disagreed with the target of expresser’s passion. Third, in competitive contexts, expressing passion became threatening and decreased the support individuals received from others. These results demonstrate that passion’s effects travel, in part, through the gravitational pull exerted by expressing passion.
What Makes Geeks Tick? A Study of Stack Overflow Careers
Lei Xu, Tingting Nian & Luís Cabral
Management Science, forthcoming
Many online platforms rely on users to voluntarily provide content. What motivates users to contribute content for free, however, is not well understood. In this paper, we use a revealed-preference approach to show that career concerns play an important role in user contributions to Stack Overflow, the largest online question-and-answer community. We investigate how activities that can enhance a user’s reputation vary before and after the user finds a new job. We contrast this reputation-generating activity with activities that do not improve a user’s reputation. After finding a new job, users contribute 23.7% less in reputation-generating activity; by contrast, they reduce their non–reputation-generating activity by only 7.4%. These findings suggest that users contribute to Stack Overflow in part because they perceive such contributions as a way to improve future employment prospects. We provide direct evidence against alternative explanations such as integer constraints, skills mismatch, and dynamic selection effects.