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Faculty & Research

Research Colloquium 2013-2014

Dean Eric R. Spangenberg took the reins at the Merage School on June 1, 2014. As a passionate educator and international scholar, Eric is looking forward to working with the entire Merage School community to continue achieving excellence in business education.

Organization and Management

 

Professor Christine Beckman
Title: "Watching Me Watching You: Boundary Control and Capturing Attention in the Context of Ubiquitous Tech nolgy Use"
Co-author:  Taryn L Stanko (Ph.D. alumna)

Accepted at: Academy of Management Journal
June 2014

 

As information communication technologies proliferate in the workplace, organizations face unique challenges managing how and when employees engage in work and non-work activities. Using interview and archival data from the U.S. Navy, we explore one organization’s attempts to shape individual attention in an effort to exert boundary control. We describe the organizational productivity and security problems that result from individual attention being engaged in non-work activities while at work and find that the organization manages these problems by monitoring employees (tracking attention), contextualizing technology use to remind people of appropriate organizational use practices (cultivating attention), and diverting, limiting, and withholding technology access (restricting attention). We bring together research on attention and control to challenge current definitions of boundary control, and we detail the understudied situational controls used by the organization to shape work/non-work interactions in the moment. We highlight how situational control efforts must work together in order to capture attention and shape behavior, and we develop a model to explicate this ongoing process of boundary control. Our findings offer insight into the evolving challenges organizations face in executing boundary control, as well as organizational control more broadly, in the modern workplace.

 

Professor Christine Beckman
Title: "Knowing Your Place: Social Performance Feedback in Good Times & Bad Times"
Co-authors:  Thomas P. Moliterno (Ph.D. alumnus), Nikolaus Beck and Mark Meyer

Accepted at: Organization Science
June 2014

 

Performance comparisons, specifically performance relative to aspirations, are central to the Behavioral Theory of the Firm. Firms evaluate their performance in relation to their own prior performance (“historical comparison”) and the performance of other organizations (“social comparison”) and base subsequent organizational change on this performance feedback. Of the two, social performance comparison has received relatively little theoretical or empirical development. This paper seeks to fill that gap by extending the theoretical conceptualization and empirical specification of the socially-derived performance targets against which organizations compare their performance. Drawing on insights from the social psychology literature, we argue first that organizational decision-makers monitor two socially-derived performance benchmarks: an upwardly focused “top performance threshold” marking the highest levels of performance in the reference group, and a downwardly anchored “reference group threshold” marking the performance level below which organizations can not consider themselves members of the reference group. Building on these arguments, we also motivate a new, and more complete, way to conceptualize performance comparison. Integrating socially and historically derived sources of performance feedback, we propose the “historically-based social aspiration threshold” (HiBSAT) as an additional aspiration point representing the socially-derived performance threshold closest to the organization’s prior performance. In an empirical analysis of German soccer Bundesliga clubs between 1992 and 2004, we find that organizations have both upward and downward socially-derived performance targets, and that performance relative to the HiBSAT is particularly salient in motivating organizational change.

 

Professor Christine Beckman
Title: "Celebrating Organization Theory"
Co-author:  Michael Lounsbury

Accepted at: Journal of Management Studies
June 2014

 

In this paper, we respond to recent critiques about the state of organization theory that have characterized it as being anachronistic, overly theoretical, or lacking the right kind of theory. We argue that organization theory is extremely vibrant and highlight several areas where there are flourishing and generative developments – institutional logics, categorization, networks, performance feedback, and strategy-as-practice. We also note the growing internationalization of organization theory as exemplified in the shifting demography of the Organization and Management Theory division at the Academy of Management as well as at the European Group on Organization Studies. As engaged organization theory supporters and scholars, we additionally argue for a more balanced appreciation of not only the weaknesses in the field, but also its strengths, and urge a re-engagement in more productive conversations about the important role of theory and theorizing.

 


   

Professors Christine Beckman & Kay Shoonhoven, & Ph.D. Student Sang-Joon Kim
Title: "Relational Pluralism in De Novo Organizations: Boards of Directors as Bridges or Barriers to Diverse Alliance Portfolios?"

Co-author: Renee Rottner (Ph.D. alumna)

Accepted at: Academy of Management Journal
October 2013

 

This paper develops relational pluralism as a collective construct whose dimensions are heterogeneity, multiplexity, and asymmetry. Relational pluralism is instantiated in the board of directors, whose network of relationships influence a new venture’s ability to establish external links beyond the networks of the founding team. We argue that relational pluralism speeds the establishment of a diverse alliance portfolio, which in turn speeds the attainment of major revenue milestones in a new firm. We examine these ideas in a population of de novo semiconductor firms and find that diverse alliance portfolios emerge faster when a board includes members with heterogeneous, multiplex relationships, as well as central network positions. However, the asymmetric influence of outside board members can have both positive and negative effects: the alliance formation process is aided by outsiders in central network positions but impeded when central investors dominate the board. We discuss implications for our understanding of relational pluralism as a collective construct.

 

Professor Jone Pearce
Title: "Political Skill: Explaining the Effects of Nonnative Accent on Managerial Hiring and Entrepreneurial Investment Decisions"
Co-authors:  Laura Huang and Marcia Frideger (Ph.D. alumnae)

Accepted at: Journal of Applied Psychology
October 2013

 

We propose and test a new theory explaining glass ceiling bias against nonnative speakers as driven by perceptions that nonnative speakers have weak political skill. Although nonnative accent is a complex signal its effects on assessments of the speakers’ political skill is something that speakers can actively mitigate, making it an important bias to understand. In Study 1, White and Asian nonnative speakers using the same scripted responses as native speakers were found to be significantly less likely to be recommended for a middle-management position, and this bias was fully mediated by assessments of their political skill, whereas the alternative explanations of race, communication and collaborative skill were nonsignificant. In Study 2 entrepreneurial start-up pitches from national high-technology new-venture funding competitions were shown to experienced Executive MBA students. Nonnative speakers’ were found to have a significantly lower likelihood of receiving new-venture funding, and this was fully mediated by the coders’ assessments of their political skill, while the entrepreneurs’ race, communication and collaborative skill had no effect. We discuss the value of empirically testing various posited reasons for glass ceiling biases, how the importance and ambiguity of political skill for executive success serve as an ostensibly meritocratic cover for nonnative speaker bias, and other theoretical and practical implications of this work.

 

Professor Denis Trapido
Title: "Relational Counterbalances to Economic Homophily: Two Mechanisms in a Historial Setting"

Accepted at: American Journal of Sociology
October 2013

 

The tendency of individuals to transact within, rather than across, identity-based groups is a well-established effect of identity divisions. While previous work emphasized macro-level, impersonal factors that counteract this limitation to economic opportunities, I consider how individuals may counteract it in everyday relations with transaction partners. Two relational counterbalances to economic homophily are examined with unique longitudinal data on 2,168 merchant partnerships in 18th-century Bristol, England, where a salient identity division existed between Tory and Whig merchants. The analysis finds no conclusive support for the first examined relational counterbalance, which presumes that social relations across identity divisions, such as joint civic activities, induce parallel economic relations. Instead, the results show that Tory-Whig commercial partnership relations were facilitated by the merchants’ practice of choosing cross-party partners of unequal professional prominence. Such professionally unequal relations involve tacit status subordination, which reduces the relation-specific uncertainty associated with transacting across a salient identity division. The results highlight the potential of uncertainty avoidance to sustain inequality between social groups and suggest unexplored contingencies to theories of status homophily.

 


  

Professor Christine Beckman
Title: "The effects of firm reputation and status on interorganizational network structure"
Co-authors:  David Chandler, Pamela Haunchild and Mooweon Rhee

Accepted at: Strategic Organization
April 2013

 

In this article, we explore the differential effects of a firm’s reputation and status on its interorganizational network. We hypothesize that due to its stable, unitary, and relational characteristics, status has a stronger influence on partner selection than reputation, which is less stable, multidimensional, and based more on perceptions of product quality and financial performance. Results from our analyses of the director networks of the 300 largest US firms from 1985 to 1993 confirm that across multiple measures of network characteristics, it is status that is the stronger predictor. In particular, high-status firms have networks that are higher in partner quality but are less diverse and contain fewer opportunities to bridge structural holes than the networks of high-reputation firms. These results contribute to our understanding of the different effects of reputation and status on firm behavior by emphasizing the importance of studying both together in order to understand the effects of either. They also contribute to work on interorganizational networks by demonstrating how structure emerges primarily as a function of focal firm status.

 

 


 

Professor Christopher Bauman
Title: "Corporate Social Responsibility as a Source of Employee Satisfaction"
Co-author:  Linda Skitka

Accepted at: Research in Organizational Behavior
January 2013

 

Corporate social responsibility has received an increasing amount of attention from practitioners and scholars alike in recent years. However, very little is known about whether or how corporate social responsibility affects employees. Because employees are primary stakeholders who directly contribute to the success of the company, understanding employee reactions to corporate social responsibility may help answer lingering questions about the potential effects of corporate social responsibility on firms as well as illuminate some of the processes responsible for them. To begin our chapter, we provide a brief history of scholarship on corporate social responsibility and highlight some of the major challenges researchers in this area currently face. We then discuss why corporate social responsibility may represent a special opportunity to influence employees’ general impression of their company. Next, we identify four distinct paths through which corporate social responsibility may affect employees’ relationship with their company that correspond to four universal psychological needs: security, self-esteem, belongingness, and a meaningful existence. Finally, we offer an agenda for micro-level research on corporate social responsibility.
 


 

Professor Denis Trapido
Title: "Dual Signals: How Competition Makes or Breaks Interfirm Social Ties"
Accepted at: Organization Science

February 2012

 

Research has documented the benefits of social ties across boundaries of competing firms but has not specified when competition enables such ties or when it damages them.  Ninety semi-structured interviews sought to elicit answers to this question from leaders of drug development companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. The informants reported withholding social ties from counterparts in competing companies if these companies affirmed to them the goal conflict aspect of the competition relation; they reported social connectedness to individuals in competing companies if these companies affirmed to them joint professional affiliation, the other necessary aspect of competition. Unique quantitative data on competition and social relations in the Bay Area’s drug development industry confirmed this pattern for weak social ties (acquaintance). Strong social ties (friendship) were not affected by any examined organizational or interorganizational factors.

  


 

Professor Jone Pearce
Title: "The Decreasing Value of our Research to Management Education"
Co-author: Huang, Laura (PhD Alumna, now on the faculty of The Warton School)
Accepted at: Academy of Management Learning and Education

February 2012

 

We tested our suspicion that the scholarly research published in our best management journals has become less conceptually and instrumentally useful to executives, managers and others who want to participate in and run organizations more effectively, and so, less useful to us as teachers of management. We found a significant decrease in the proportion of journal articles that generated actionable knowledge from 1960 to 2010. We then examined the previous five years of reports of research from a practitioner-focused publication, finding that rigorous student-subject laboratory studies from a journal with no pretense to producing research useful to managers was discussed much more often than research from either Academy of Management Journal, Administrative Science Quarterly or Journal of Applied Psychology. Several speculations for the decline in the proportion of actionable research include greater favoring of complex moderator-mediator analyses, and studies demonstrating that abstract economic theories have not been implemented in practice. We reminded readers that this decline is not just an incentives problem, but that producing quality actionable research is difficult and so more likely an ability problem. This, when combined with growing demand for faculty to publish only in journals used in business school rankings has increased pressure to produce more publications without a proportional increase in actionable research. We proposed that the decline in actionable research may also be the result of an abdication of editors’ own judgments to demanding that all reviewers’ requests be met. Finally, we speculated that the absence of a sufficiently powerful constituency for actionable management research also played a part in this decline.

  


 

Professor Jone Pearce
Title: “Rating performance or contesting status: Evidence against the homophily explanation for supervisor demographic skew in performance ratings.”
Co-authors: Xu, Q. J. (PhD Alumna)

Accepted at: Organization Science

We propose and test an argument that status contests better explain the well-documented skew in supervisory performance appraisal ratings toward those with the same demography as themselves than does the reigning theory of homophily. We conduct the test in a field study of 358 supervisor-subordinate dyads in ten organizations, using hierarchical linear modeling with various controls, finding that supervisors’ ratings of subordinates’ contextual and task performance only skew toward similar subordinates when supervisors’ status is contested by a higher demographic-status subordinate, as predicted by Social Dominance and Status Characteristics Theories. None of the general homophily preference hypotheses were supported. This study provides a richer theory more consistent with the accumulating evidence about demography effects in organizations, and demonstrates the value of head-to-head strong inference tests and status explanations for the field of organizational behavior.

 


 

Professor Jone Pearce
Title: “Managers' Context: How Government Capability affects Managers."”
Co-authors: Xin, K. M., Xu, Q. J., Rao A.N. (PhD Alumna, now of the faculty at CEIBS, Eastern Illinois State and San Jose State, respectively).

Accepted at: British Journal of Management

 

We draw attention to two changes in management research over the past 25 years: more focus on the different contexts that constrain management action, and applications of management knowledge to non-business societal challenges. There has been much speculation but little comparative empirical research on how government quality affects what managers do. Building on theory and research from international business, organization theory and organizational behavior we propose and test an account of the ways government capability affects organizational performance through its effects on managerial assumptions and actions. In a sample of managers working under four different governments, we find that the more capable the government the less managers depend on their personal relationships to get their work done, and this in turn mediated governments’ effects on the managerial cultivation of relationships with government officials, their use of personal relationships for competitive business advantages, and their greater distrust, secrecy and withholding of information from business associates. The implications for cross-national management research and public policy for economic development are highlighted

 


  

Professor Christopher Bauman
Title: "The Pursuit of Missing Information in Negotiation"
Co-authors: Young, M.J., Chen, N., & Bastardi, A.
Accepted at: Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

October 2011

 

A large body of research has focused on how people exchange and use information during the negotiation process. This work tends to treat information as if it all were readily available upon request. The current research investigated how delays in the pursuit of missing information can influence people’s ex-ante priorities and the final settlements they reach. Study 1 found that negotiators achieved more value on an issue after seeking missing information about that issue compared to when the same information was readily accessible. Study 2 found that the effect of searching for information on outcomes was mediated by changes in how important negotiators perceived the issue to be. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

  


 

Professor Jone Pearce and PhD Students Rebekah Dibble and Kenji Klein
Title: “The Effects of Governments on Management and Organization”
Accepted at: The Academy of Management Annals, Volume 3, 2009

August 2009
  
We review and integrate existing research from organization theory, strategy, organizational behavior, economics, sociology and political science on the effects of governments on organization and management, with a focus on  how governing ideology and government capability influence independent organizations’ forms, strategies, and their participants’ behavior. When brought together these works suggest significant research opportunities in the fields of management and organization, as well as new perspectives on public policy challenges. Several avenues of potentially profitable empirical research include more attention to the influence of government on corporate strategies, more research on the strategies of pursuing corruption and government capture for competitive advantage, the role of government in fostering innovation and the growth of entrepreneurial organizations, and extra-organizational contextual effects on managerial and employee organizational behavior. Possible public policy implications are illustrated with an application to the role of organizations in national wealth generation and dispersion.

  


 

Professor Claudia Bird Schoonhoven
Title: “Intercommunity relationships and community growth in China’s High Technology Industries 1988-2000.”
Accepted at: Strategic Management Journal
Co-authors: A. Zhang & H. Li
March 2009
 
This paper reports on a unique panel study of 53 national technology development zones in China spanning 1988 - 2000.   Conceptually zones are organizational communities which contain several related industries. The zones’ primary purpose is to promote technological innovation in ten areas considered new and “high technology” in China. The first zone was founded in Beijing in 1988, and by 1994, 52 zones had been established in cities throughout China. In ten years, the zones grew dramatically with collective revenues of 460 billion RMB, however the communities have grown differentially. The question we address is what predicts community revenue growth?  We examine how inter-community relationships affect the revenue growth of organizational communities, controlling for community age, provincial versus central government origin, R&D and export intensiveness, political importance of city location, local city GDP, cities' degrees of industrialization, city foreign direct investment, city colleges, and calendar year to control for China’s substantial development since 1988. 
We found that greater community density (number of zones in a given region), a community’s geographic proximity to the nearest community and its domain overlap with the nearest community all have an inverted U-shaped relationship with community growth. These non-monotonic findings support our argument that organizational communities are interdependent and that they share both mutualistic and competitive relationships, which in turn have a significant impact on community growth. For example all else being equal, a community’s expected sales revenue would be 235% times greater if domain overlap with the nearest zone were to increase from 0 to 94% but any further increases would significantly decrease revenues. These findings have both policy and managerial significance which are developed in the paper.

  


 

Professor Claudia Bird Schoonhoven
Title: “The Next Wave of Entrepreneurship Research.”
Accepted at: Advances in the Study of Entrepreneurship, Firm Emergence, and Growth
Co-authors: Elaine Romanelli
March 2009