Walking the talk

Kevin Lewis

November 29, 2019

Getting to less: When negotiating harms post-agreement performance
Einav Hart & Maurice Schweitzer
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, forthcoming


The negotiation process can harm post-agreement motivation. For example, a homeowner might negotiate with a landscaper, but through the process of negotiating harm the landscaper's motivation to deliver high quality service. In contrast to prior work that has assumed that negotiated agreements represent the full economic value of negotiated outcomes, we demonstrate that the act of engaging in a negotiation can itself influence post-agreement behavior in ways that change the economic value of an agreement. Across six studies, we demonstrate that negotiations can harm post-agreement motivation and productivity on both effortful and creative tasks. Specifically, we find that wage negotiations can harm post-agreement performance, even when the negotiation has integrative potential or is conducted face-to-face. The negotiation process can increase perceptions of relational conflict, and these conflict perceptions mediate the relationship between negotiation and performance. Compared to not negotiating, individuals who negotiate may secure favorable deal terms, but risk incurring affective, relational, and economic costs after the agreement. Our investigation fills a critical gap in our understanding of post-agreement behavior, and has particular relevance for negotiations that involve services. Our findings suggest that individuals should enter negotiations with caution, and we call for future work to explore not only what happens prior to an agreement, but also what happens after an agreement has been reached.

Liar at first sight? Early impressions and interviewer judgments, attributions, and false perceptions of faking
Timothy Wingate & Joshua Bourdage
Journal of Personnel Psychology, October 2019, Pages 177-188


Research suggests that early impressions influence employment interview outcomes. A highly controlled experiment examined the effects of pre-interview qualifications information and early applicant impression management behavior on interviewers' early impressions and, in turn, applicant outcomes. Mock interviewers (N = 247) judged the same applicant with a poorer pre-interview qualification ranking to be a poorer performer, but also perceived the applicant to have faked (deceived) more, and considered the applicant less likeable, less competent, less dedicated, and more conceited. Early applicant impression management behavior did not consistently contribute to interviewers' early impressions, or to perceptions and judgments. Overall, these findings suggest that early applicant information can affect interviewer cognitions and judgments through the formation of early impressions.

Anger as a trigger for information search in integrative negotiations
Laura Rees et al.
Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming


Research has shown that anger can be both detrimental in negotiations (increasing the chance of impasse or conflict) and helpful to the angry person (by eliciting concessions from the other party). Much of this work has focused on a receiver's emotional response to anger. Yet little work has examined the influence of anger on information search, an important cognitive mechanism for joint value creation in integrative negotiations. We propose a cognitive approach: that negotiators facing an angry partner are more likely to seek out diagnostic information about their partner's preferences and priorities. In turn, this information should enable negotiators to reach higher joint gains. Across multiple studies, we find that negotiators facing an angry versus a happy counterpart seek out more information, which leads to increased value creation. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings.

The self-presentational consequences of upholding one's stance in spite of the evidence
Leslie John et al.
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, September 2019, Pages 1-14


Five studies explore the self-presentational consequences of refusing to "back down" - that is, upholding a stance despite evidence of its inaccuracy. Using data from an entrepreneurial pitch competition, Study 1 shows that entrepreneurs tend not to back down even though investors are more impressed by entrepreneurs who do. Next, in two sets of experiments, we unpack the psychology underlying why actors refuse to publicly back down and investigate observers' impressions of those actors. Specifically, we show that observers view people who refuse to back down as confident but unintelligent, and these perceptions drive consequential decisions about such refusers, such as whether to invest in their ideas (Studies 1 & 2) or whether to hire them (Study 3). Although actors can intuit these effects (Study 4), this understanding is not reflected in their behavior because they are concerned with saving face (Study 5).

Bar Talk: Informal Social Interactions, Alcohol Prohibition, and Invention
Michael Andrews
NBER Working Paper, November 2019


To understand the importance of informal social interactions for invention, I examine a massive and involuntary disruption of informal social networks from U.S. history: alcohol prohibition. The enactment of state-level prohibition laws differentially treated counties depending on whether those counties were wet or dry prior to prohibition. After the imposition of state-level prohibition, previously wet counties had 8-18% fewer patents per year relative to consistently dry counties. The effect was largest in the first three years after the imposition of prohibition and rebounds thereafter. The effect was smaller for groups that were less likely to frequent saloons, namely women and particular ethnic groups. Next, I use the imposition of prohibition to show that the social network exhibited path dependence in the sense that as individuals rebuilt their networks following prohibition, they connected with new individuals and patented in new technology classes. Thus, while prohibition had only a temporary effect on the rate of invention, it had a lasting effect on the direction of inventive activity. Additionally, I exploit the imposition of prohibition to show that networks increase invention by exposing individuals to others' ideas in addition to simply facilitating collaboration and that informal and formal interactions are complements in the invention production function.

Can Busy Organizations Learn to Get Better? Distinguishing Between the Competing Effects of Constrained Capacity on the Organizational Learning Process
Vinit Desai
Organization Science, forthcoming


Organizations are getting busier, but can they still learn to get better? This question has urgent practical importance, since competitive pressures in a wide variety of industries have resulted in organizations that increasingly strain their operating limits. This question is deeply connected with organizational learning theory, since organizations operating with constrained capacity may gain experience but lose the ability to digest it - challenging the overall organization's ability to learn and improve. Some research, though, suggests a seemingly contradictory perspective, with constrained capacity perhaps motivating organizations to adopt more flexible approaches and learn out of necessity. This study integrates the perspectives to examine how constrained capacity impacts organizational learning. To explore this question, the study develops separate theory regarding the amount and timing of capacity crises, suggesting that increasingly constrained capacity tends to detract from learning, but, uniquely, that consistently constrained capacity, rather than periodic spikes, may instead lead to better learning. Hypothesis tests provide support for several of the study's arguments.

Praise-many, blame-fewer: A common (and successful) strategy for attributing responsibility in groups
Chelsea Schein et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming


It is often unclear how to apportion praise after a group's success and blame after a group's failure. Should all members share responsibility or only a select few? In this article, we examine how people do solve this apportionment problem and how they should solve this problem. Seven empirical studies (N = 1,052) reveal that people frequently rely on a strategy of praise-many, blame-fewer, a tendency found across several different domains: high-profile sports championships, hierarchical business decisions, and first- and third-person judgments of impromptu work teams. Agent-based models test the success of different apportionment strategies under different conditions. These models suggest that in many circumstances it is adaptive to praise broadly after success and to blame more narrowly after failure - even with only minimal insight into individual skill - although effects vary depending on the motivation of group members to improve after being blamed.

Using computer automated systems to conduct personal interviews: Does the mere presence of a human face inhibit disclosure?
Matthew Pickard & Catherine Roster
Computers in Human Behavior, forthcoming


Personal interviews are widely used to collect open-ended data in an array of settings, many of which require solicitation of data that may be regarded as sensitive or threatening by interviewees. The high costs of employing human interviewers can be mitigated by utilizing computer-generated "human-like" interviewers, at least in scripted interview conditions. However, the effects of replacing humans with human-like interviewers on interviewees' level of actual disclosure has not been well-researched. This experiment compared disclosure of sensitive information obtained from personal interviews utilizing various interviewer modes. One-hundred and fifty-eight students from a southwestern university were randomly assigned to answer a series of open-ended questions in one of three different personal interview modes: 1) audio-only computer-assisted self-interview (i.e., ACASI); 2) human-like embodied conversational agent (i.e., ECA); or 3) a human interviewer. Disclosure was measured using both self-report and objective scores derived from trained judges. Disclosure levels were significantly higher in the faceless ACASI condition than in the combined virtual and human interviewer conditions - both of which were embodied with a face. There was no significant difference between the ECA and human interviewer conditions. This suggests that the mere presence of a human face can inhibit disclosure.

Prime and Performance: Can a CEO Motivate Employees Without Their Awareness?
Alexander Stajkovic et al.
Journal of Business and Psychology, December 2019, Pages 791-802


Work motivation research is at a crossroads with the discovery of the causal effects of primed subconscious goals in addition to those of consciously set goals on performance. Although social psychologists continue to demonstrate positive effects of primed goals on a multitude of dependent variables, priming research has been criticized for its lack of generalizability beyond tightly controlled laboratory experiments. Addressing this skepticism, a field experiment was conducted in a for-profit organization, where the CEO used goal priming to motivate job performance. A performance goal for achievement was primed with achievement-related words embedded in an email from the CEO to employees. The goal priming by the CEO necessitated little to no costs yet it increased objectively measured performance effectiveness by 15% and efficiency by 35% over a 5-day work-week. This field experiment illustrates a new alternative for increasing employee performance. In a second experiment, we conducted a conceptual replication of the field experiment in the laboratory with a larger sample size, and we extended theory by testing a measure of motivation level as a mediator of the primed goal-performance effect. The results affirmed the hypothesized motivational influence. These two experiments increase understanding of subconscious motivation processes.

Labor Reactions to Financial Distress: Evidence from LinkedIn Activity
Jeff Gortmaker, Jessica Jeffers & Michael Junho Lee
University of Chicago Working Paper, September 2019


We investigate workers' reactions to signals of their firms' financial condition using anonymized networking activity on LinkedIn. We show significant increases in weekly connection formation following the announcement of possible impending downgrades to a firm's credit rating. More senior, more skilled, and less mobile workers have the strongest reactions, but increased connection activity appears in both workers who leave and workers who stay at the firm. Reactions to firms' financial conditions are asymmetric: we do not find evidence of a change in networking activity for positive credit rating news. We also do not find similar reactions following economic signals such as missed earnings. These results point to possible unique labor implications of debt financing.

The Underdog Effect: When Low Expectations Increase Performance
Samir Nurmohamed
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming


Existing theory and research has documented the benefits of facing high expectations and the perils of encountering low expectations. This paper examines the performance effects of underdog expectations, defined as individuals' perceptions that others view them as unlikely to succeed. Integrating theory and research on self-enhancement with psychological reactance, I predict that underdog expectations have the potential to boost performance through the desire to prove others wrong when others' credibility is in question. Studies 1 and 2 provide support for the positive relationship between underdog expectations and performance. Study 3 reveals support for the positive effect of underdog expectations on performance through the desire to prove others wrong. Study 4 demonstrates that these effects depend on the perceived credibility of observers: when observers' expectations are seen as more credible, underdog expectations undermine performance (i.e., consistent with the Golem effect and self-fulfilling prophecy), but when observers' expectations are viewed as less credible, underdog expectations boost performance (i.e., the underdog effect). My theory and results challenge the assumption that perceiving low expectations from others is always detrimental and offer meaningful insights into why and when underdog expectations increase versus inhibit performance.


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