Information will be updated throughout the summer and fall.


Patricia Satterstrom

Using Multi-disciplinary Teams to Renegotiate Power in Hierarchical Organizations
My dissertation is a longitudinal inductive field study exploring how lower-power team members can create changes to the power structure in their teams and organization. In the first study, I introduce and develop the idea of a microwedge—a small act (or series of acts) that at time 1 creates an opening that weakens the team’s existing mental models about what individuals can do and want to do; so that by time 2, the team has a different understanding of how they can engage with work, relying less on hierarchy and more on individuals’ skills, experience, and interests. The second study develops theory about how gaining voice and “speaking up” by low-power members is not sufficient to create changes that benefit them and their low-power colleagues; that, in fact, speaking up when the team is not ready to listen may result in greater dissatisfaction and exit. I find that changes to the team structure that favor lower-power members can help create spaces for all members to behave in ways that diverge from the preexisting power structure. The third study presents a review of the literature on changes to power hierarchies, focusing on the approaches taken by high versus low-power actors.
Faculty Advisor(s): J. Polzer (Chair), A. Knight, H.Gardner, and S. Singer


Kate Barasz

Pseudo-Set Framing
Five studies demonstrate that arbitrarily grouping items or tasks together as part of an apparent “set” motivates people to reach perceived completion points: to finish a pseudo-set. We use both verbal (e.g., “there are four tasks in every set”) and visual cues (e.g., a four-slice pie chart that “fills in” as tasks are completed) to show that pseudo-set framing affects task completion patterns. Specifically, pseudo-set framing alters perceptions of completeness, making intermediate progress (e.g., “3 of 4 tasks done”) seem less complete; in turn, this feeling of incompleteness motivates people to persist until the pseudo-set has been fulfilled. Pseudo-set framing changes giving behavior (Studies 1 and 5), effort (Studies 2 and 3), and gambling (Study 4). The effects persist in the absence of any reward, when a cost must be incurred, and even when participants are explicitly informed that set size is completely arbitrary.
Faculty Advisor(s): M. Norton (Chair), L. John, and J. Gourville

Pavel Kireyev

Prize Allocation and Entry in Ideation Contests
Contests are a popular mechanism for the procurement of creative innovation. In marketing, firms often organize contests online, offering prizes to encourage competition and solicit high-quality ideas for ads, new products, and even marketing strategies from participants. I empirically investigate the impact of the number of prizes, prize amount and submission limit on participation and quality outcomes in ideation contests using data from a popular marketing crowdsourcing platform. I develop a structural model of participant entry and sponsor choice in contests with multiple prizes and heterogeneous participants. Counterfactual simulations reveal the impact of design parameters on participation and quality outcomes: multiple prizes discourage stronger participants and encourage weaker participants but do not have a substantial impact on outcomes in contests that attract a large number of submissions; a larger prize increases expected maximum, total and average idea quality but may not substantially increase participation; a submission limit increases the number of entrants but reduces expected maximum and total idea quality. The results provide guidance for the optimal design of ideation contests.
Faculty Advisor(s): E. OfekS. Gupta, and A. Pakes

Bhavya Mohan

Lifting the Veil: The Benefits of Cost Transparency
A firm’s costs are typically tightly-guarded secrets. However, across a field study and six laboratory experiments we identify when and why firms benefit from revealing unit cost information to consumers. A natural field experiment conducted with an online retailer suggests that cost transparency boosts sales. Six subsequent controlled lab experiments replicate this basic effect (Studies 2-6) and provide evidence for why it occurs: just as interpersonal disclosure of intimate information increases attraction, cost transparency by a firm increases brand attraction, in turn boosting consumer purchase interest. This relationship persists even after controlling for perceptions of price fairness and product quality (Study 3). Study 4 suggests that the beneficial effect of cost transparency holds when firms spend more on “less desirable” costs relative to “more desirable” costs. Studies 5-6 show that the effect of cost transparency weakens when high profit margins are made salient. Finally, Study 7 shows that the beneficial effect reverses (i.e. cost transparency backfires) when it is revealed that a firm’s profit margins are high relative to those of its competitors.
Faculty Advisor(s): R. Deshpande

Lingling Zhang

The Two Faces of Size: An Analysis of Price Bargaining and Platform Competition in the US Daily Deal Market
The platform—a business model that creates value by connecting groups of users—is increasingly popular in many industries. Extant papers largely assume that platforms dominate the pricing decision, whereas in practice, prices in business-to-business transactions are often determined by a bargaining process. We study how the relative bargaining power of business partners affects pricing and competition in a two-sided market. We compile a unique and comprehensive dataset using sales data from the US daily deal market and specify a structural model based on Nash bargaining solutions. We find that Groupon, the larger deal platform, has more price-bargaining power than LivingSocial and that larger and chain merchants have more bargaining power than smaller and independent merchants. The difference in bargaining power between different types of merchant, interestingly, is more substantial on LivingSocial than on Groupon. Therefore, the size of a platform plays a double-edged role: while a larger customer base helps attract merchants, the platform’s bargaining power may motivate some merchants to also work with its smaller competitors, over which they have more influence on price setting. Our counterfactual results show that the allocation of price-bargaining power plays an important role in the daily deal markets and that the merchants are significantly worse off if the platforms dominate the pricing decision. We also estimate how much a platform might overspend on acquiring a merchant if the platform’s salesforce assumes it has more bargaining power than it actually does.
Faculty Advisor(s): D. Chung (Co-Chair), A. Elberse (Co-Chair), and S. Gupta

Organizational Behavior

Lisa Kwan

Abstract forthcoming
Abstract forthcoming.
Faculty Advisor(s): J. Polzer (Chair), A. EdmondsonF. Gino, and L. Ramarajan