Heidi K. Gardner

Assistant Professor of Business Administration

Unit: Organizational Behavior

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Heidi K. Gardner is an Assistant Professor of Business Administration in the Organizational Behavior unit at Harvard Business School.  

Professor Gardner researches, teaches and speaks on topics related to leadership, collaboration and teamwork in knowledge-based organizations, focusing especially on professional service firms.  Her current research explores issues of peer collaboration (such as between partners in professional service firms) in complex, knowledge-based, high autonomy environments where people can choose whether to work solo or jointly, and where collaboration is especially challenging because it stretches over time and across projects.  This work analyzes the benefits and costs to firms and individuals of working collaboratively, and investigates elements of leadership and organizational design that support (or hinder) the collaboration and innovation necessary for high-quality client service. She has also extensively investigated issues that allow project teams to most effectively use their members’ expertise in order to achieve their fullest potential. 

Professor Gardner’s research was awarded the Academy of Management Organizational Behavior Division’s prize for Outstanding Practical Implications for Management. She has published articles in the Academy of Management Journal, Administrative Science Quarterly, Harvard Business Review, and Journal of Organizational Behavior, as well as chapters in edited volumes focusing on organizational behavior, multinational teams, and the management of professional service firms.  She serves on the editorial board of Administrative Science Quarterly.  Her research has been featured in media such as The Economist, Boston Globe, MSN.com, CNN Money, Fortune.com and CBSNews.com. 

She currently teaches the Leading Professional Service Firms course both in the Executive Education program and as a second-year MBA elective.  Professor Gardner also teaches a number of executive offerings at both the Business School and Harvard Kennedy School focusing on professional service firms, talent management  and teamwork.  Previously she taught the required Leadership and Organizational Behavior (LEAD) course in the MBA program.

Prior to her academic career Professor Gardner worked as a management consultant for McKinsey & Co. in London, Johannesburg and New York, as well as a manager for Procter & Gamble. She also held a Fulbright fellowship in Germany and previously lived in Japan while majoring in East Asian studies as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania (graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa). More recently, Professor Gardner earned a Masters degree (with distinction) from the London School of Economics and a Masters and PhD in Organizational Behavior from London Business School.

Featured Work

  1. Rewarding Partnerships

    Many law firm leaders believe that collaboration is essential for generating sophisticated solutions to the increasingly complex issues that clients bring. But why is it often so difficult to get partners to collaborate? Those who have been rewarded for developing individual reputations may question why they should risk their standing by introducing colleagues to their clients.
  2. Performance Pressure as a Double-edged Sword: Enhancing Team Motivation but Undermining the Use of Team Knowledge

    In this paper, I develop and empirically test the proposition that performance pressure acts as a double-edged sword for teams, providing positive effects by enhancing the team’s motivation to achieve good results while simultaneously triggering process losses. I conducted a multimethod field study of 78 audit and consulting teams from two global professional firms, revealing an irony of team life: even though motivated to perform well on a high-stakes project, pressured teams are more likely to engage in performance-detracting behaviors. Survey results show that, as performance pressure increases, team members begin to overly rely on general expertise while discounting domain-specific expertise, leading to suboptimal performance. I then use longitudinal qualitative case studies of six project teams across two firms to explore the underlying behavioral mechanisms that generate this outcome. Results reveal four limiting team processes: (1) a drive toward consensus, (2) a focus on common knowledge, (3) a shift from learning to project completion, and (4) increased conformity to the status hierarchy. Results also show that only domain-specific expertise—the kind that teams underuse when facing higher pressure—increases client-rated team performance. I thus find, paradoxically, that when teams need domain-specific expertise the most, they tend to use it the least, despite evidence suggesting they are highly motivated to do well on their task.

  3. Coming Through When It Matters Most

    All teams would like to think they do their best work when the stakes are highest—when the company’s future or their own rests on the outcome of their projects. But too often something else happens. In extensive studies of teams at professional service firms, Harvard Business School’s Gardner has seen the same pattern emerge over and over: Teams become increasingly concerned with the risks of failure rather than the requirements of excellence. As a result, they revert to safe, standard approaches instead of delivering original solutions tailored to clients’ needs.

    Gardner has a name for this phenomenon: the performance pressure paradox. Here’s how it develops: As pressure mounts, team members start driving toward consensus in ways that shut out vital information. Without even realizing it, they give more weight to shared knowledge and dismiss specialized expertise, such as insights into the client’s technologies, culture, and aspirations. The more generically inclined the team becomes, the more concerned the client grows, which turns up the pressure and pushes the team even further down the generic road.

    But forewarned is forearmed. By measuring each person’s contribution deliberately, ruthlessly insisting that no one’s contribution be marginalized, and framing new information within familiar contexts, teams can escape the performance pressure paradox and keep doing their best work when it matters most.

  4. Dynamically Integrating Knowledge in Teams: Transforming Resources into Performance

    In knowledge-based environments, teams must develop a systematic approach to integrating knowledge resources throughout the course of projects in order to perform effectively. Yet, many teams fail to do so. Drawing on the resource-based view of the firm, we examine how teams can develop a knowledge-integration capability to dynamically integrate members' resources into higher performance. We distinguish among three sets of resources: relational, experiential, and structural and propose that they differentially influence a team's knowledge-integration capability. We test our theoretical framework using data on knowledge workers in professional services and discuss implications for research and practice.

  5. Expertise Dissensus: A Multi-level Model of Teams' Differing Perceptions about Member Expertise

    Why are some teams more effective than others at using their members' expertise to achieve short-term performance and longer term developmental benefits? We propose that a critical factor is expertise dissensus-members' differing perceptions of each other's level of expertise.  We argue that performance hinges on how team members perceive all others' expertise-not just how they view the most expert team member-and that even latent disagreement about how much each person can contribute will undermine individuals' development and teams' capacity building.  We develop and test a multi-level model of expertise dissensus, finding that it hampers team coordination, increases task and relationship conflict, and lowers all dimensions of team effectiveness: team performance, team viability, and individual member development.

  6. Managing Your Team's "Dissensus"

    Have you ever been in a team meeting and wondered something like, "Why did the boss gave Jamie that assignment? I think Susan is a better match for the job." Or observed a colleague asking another for help and thought, "It never occurred to me to ask for his input on that topic." Or got stuck in a situation where it seemed like some team members really valued your opinion but another seemed to disregard you entirely?

    Team members tend to assume that they all agree about how much knowledge everyone else on the team has, but my research shows that they often actually hold quite differing perceptions and that these differences can seriously hamper team effectiveness. I call this phenomenon "expertise dissensus."

Publications

Journal Articles

  1. Rewarding Partnerships

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi. "Rewarding Partnerships." Financial Times (October 4, 2013).
  2. Performance Pressure as a Double-edged Sword: Enhancing Team Motivation but Undermining the Use of Team Knowledge

    In this paper, I develop and empirically test the proposition that performance pressure acts as a double-edged sword for teams, providing positive effects by enhancing the team's motivation to achieve good results while simultaneously triggering process losses. I conducted a multimethod field study of 78 audit and consulting teams from two global professional firms, revealing an irony of team life: even though motivated to perform well on a high-stakes project, pressured teams are more likely to engage in performance-detracting behaviors. Survey results show that, as performance pressure increases, team members begin to overly rely on general expertise while discounting domain-specific expertise, leading to suboptimal performance. I then use longitudinal qualitative case studies of six project teams across two firms to explore the underlying behavioral mechanisms that generate this outcome. Results reveal four limiting team processes: (1) a drive toward consensus, (2) a focus on common knowledge, (3) a shift from learning to project completion, and (4) increased conformity to the status hierarchy. Results also show that only domain-specific expertise—the kind that teams underuse when facing higher pressure—increases client-rated team performance. I thus find, paradoxically, that when teams need domain-specific expertise the most, they tend to use it the least, despite evidence suggesting they are highly motivated to do well on their task.

    Keywords: Motivation and Incentives; Knowledge Use and Leverage; Behavior; Groups and Teams; Performance;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K. "Performance Pressure as a Double-edged Sword: Enhancing Team Motivation but Undermining the Use of Team Knowledge." Administrative Science Quarterly 57, no. 1 (March 2012): 1–46.
  3. The Changing Ecology of Teams: New Directions for Teams Research

    The nature of collaboration has been changing at an accelerating pace, particularly in the last decade. Much of the published work in teams research, however, is still focused on the archetypal team that has well-defined membership, purposes, leadership, and standards of effectiveness—all characteristics that are being altered by changes in the larger context of collaboration. Each of these features is worth attention as a dynamic construct in its own right. This article explores what the teams research community has to gain by researching, theorizing, and understanding the many new forms of contemporary collaboration.

    Keywords: Groups and Teams; Research; Change Management; Leadership; Standards; Performance Effectiveness; Theory; Civil Society or Community;

    Citation:

    Wageman, Ruth, Heidi K. Gardner, and Mark Mortensen. "The Changing Ecology of Teams: New Directions for Teams Research." Journal of Organizational Behavior 33, no. 3 (April 2012): 301–315.
  4. Dynamically Integrating Knowledge in Teams: A Resource-based View of Team Performance

    In knowledge-based environments, teams must develop a systematic approach to integrating knowledge resources throughout the course of projects in order to perform effectively. Yet, many teams fail to do so. Drawing on the resource-based view of the firm, we examine how teams can develop a knowledge-integration capability to dynamically integrate members' resources into higher performance. We distinguish among three sets of resources: relational, experiential, and structural and propose that they differentially influence a team's knowledge-integration capability. We test our theoretical framework using data on knowledge workers in professional services and discuss implications for research and practice.

    Keywords: Groups and Teams; Projects; Performance Effectiveness; Knowledge Sharing; Employees; Theory; Framework; Management Practices and Processes; Research;

    Citation:

    Gardner, H. K., F. Gino, and B. Staats. "Dynamically Integrating Knowledge in Teams: A Resource-based View of Team Performance." Academy of Management Journal 55, no. 4 (August 2012).
  5. Coming Through When It Matters Most

    All teams would like to think they do their best work when the stakes are highest-when the company's future or their own rests on the outcome of their projects. But too often something else happens. In extensive studies of teams at professional service firms, I have seen the same pattern emerge over and over: teams become increasingly concerned with the risks of failure rather than the requirements of excellence. As a result, they revert to safe, standard approaches instead of delivering original solutions tailored to clients' needs. I have named this phenomenon "the performance pressure paradox." Here's how it develops: as pressure mounts, team members start driving toward consensus in ways that shut out vital information. Without even realizing it, they give more weight to shared knowledge and dismiss specialized expertise, such as insights into the client's technologies, culture, and aspirations. The more generically inclined the team becomes, the more concerned the client grows, which turns up the pressure and pushes the team even further down the generic road. But forewarned is forearmed. By measuring each person's contribution deliberately, ruthlessly insisting that no one's contribution be marginalized, and framing new information within familiar contexts, teams can escape the performance pressure paradox and keep doing their best work when it matters most.

    Keywords: Groups and Teams; Projects; Performance Expectations; Failure; Risk and Uncertainty; Safety; Experience and Expertise; Knowledge Sharing;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K. "Coming Through When It Matters Most." Harvard Business Review 90, no. 4 (April 2012).
  6. Teams Have Changed: Catching Up to the Future

    Modern global trends are changing the face of teams. But we believe that much of today's teams research focuses us on the present and the past while barely acknowledging the future. Much more radical changes exist in what is already happening to teams and what is ahead. We enjoin our scholarly colleagues to refocus radically on truly modern phenomena, on anticipating the future, and on altering our theorizing and methods accordingly, or we will never catch up.

    Keywords: Trends; Globalization; Groups and Teams; Research;

    Citation:

    Wageman, Ruth, Heidi K. Gardner, and Mark Mortensen. "Teams Have Changed: Catching Up to the Future." Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice 5, no. 1 (March 2012): 48–52.
  7. Expertise Utilization in Accounting & Consulting Teams: The Effects of Shared Representations

    Why are some teams more effective than others in using their members' knowledge? This paper identifies shared representations as a critical moderator of effective knowledge utilization in teams, revealing how and when teams appropriately draw on their members' expertise.

    Keywords: Experience and Expertise; Knowledge Use and Leverage; Groups and Teams; Performance Effectiveness;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K. "Expertise Utilization in Accounting & Consulting Teams: The Effects of Shared Representations." Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings (2009).
  8. Feeling the Heat: The Effects of Performance Pressure on Teams' Knowledge Use and Performance

    Why do some teams fail to use their members' knowledge effectively, even after having correctly identified each other's expertise? This paper identifies performance pressure as a critical barrier to effective knowledge utilization in teams. I theorize that performance pressure creates threat rigidity effects in teams, meaning that they default to using the expertise of high status members while becoming less effective at using team members with deep client knowledge. I test the model in a field study of 100+ accounting and consulting teams from a Big Four firm and use survey data from their clients to demonstrate the performance implications.

    Keywords: Experience and Expertise; Knowledge Use and Leverage; Performance Effectiveness; Performance Expectations; Groups and Teams;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K. "Feeling the Heat: The Effects of Performance Pressure on Teams' Knowledge Use and Performance." Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings (2009).
  9. Chartering New Territory: Diversification, Legitimacy and Practice Area Creation in Professional Service Firms

    Diversification into innovative domains through new practice area creation is a critical imperative for professional services firms. Using theories of organizational territoriality and corporate charters, we conceptualize professional firms as federations of distinct practice areas and argue that the chartering of a new practice is an inherently political act. New practice area founders need to engage in appropriate legitimacy-mobilizing efforts in order to sustain diversification efforts. Our analysis of 46 cases of new practice area creation attempts in consulting and law firms shows that the mix of legitimacy required for new practice areas created through radical diversification is very different from that required for incremental diversification efforts. Our findings have important implications for studying how innovation is structurally accomplished in professional firms.

    Keywords: Diversification; Lawfulness; Code Law; Management Practices and Processes; Service Operations; Innovation and Invention; Management Analysis, Tools, and Techniques;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi, N. Anand, and Timothy Morris. "Chartering New Territory: Diversification, Legitimacy and Practice Area Creation in Professional Service Firms." Special Issue on Professional Service Firms: Where Organization Theory and Organizational Behavior Might Meet, edited by Roy Suddaby, Royston Greenwood, and Celeste Wilderom Journal of Organizational Behavior 29, no. 8 (November 2008).
  10. Knowledge-based Innovation: Emergence and Embedding of New Practice Areas in Management Consulting Firms

    How do innovative knowledge-based structures emerge and become embedded in organizations? We drew on theories of knowledge-intensive firms, communities of practice, and professional service firms to analyze multiple cases of new practice area creation in management consulting firms. Our qualitative analysis identified four critical generative elements: socialized agency, differentiated expertise, defensible turf, and organizational support. We demonstrate that these elements must be combined in specific pathways for knowledge-based innovative structures to emerge and embed. These pathways emerge from practitioner networks, markets for knowledge-based services, and professional firms' hierarchies. Our findings have important implications for studying innovation in the knowledge-based economy.

    Keywords: Knowledge; Innovation and Invention; Management Practices and Processes; Organizational Structure; Economy; Management Analysis, Tools, and Techniques; Experience and Expertise; Service Operations; Consulting Industry;

    Citation:

    Anand, N., H. K. Gardner, and T. Morris. "Knowledge-based Innovation: Emergence and Embedding of New Practice Areas in Management Consulting Firms." Academy of Management Journal 50, no. 2 (April 2007).

Book Chapters

  1. Effective Teamwork and Collaboration

    Book Abstract: The ability to attract, develop, and retain talent has become one of the biggest competitive issues for law firms. But although talent management is now recognized as a business issue of prime importance, law firms often lack the experience, vision, and tools to do it. This practical new handbook explores the various elements required to manage talent effectively. It illustrates how law firms can significantly increase the performance, engagement, and retention of their lawyers by giving them the tools to develop and support the development of others. It also describes the need to align HR and law firm strategy through talent management and adapt leadership and talent management best practices to law firm structures and challenges. Chapters cover all of the important aspects of strategic talent management and provide practical guidance from law firm talent management experts internationally to help managing partners, talent management managers, and lawyers seeking to build strong and aligned talent management strategies in their firms to stand and win the competition. This book will also be of interest to lawyers seeking to understand what is required for them to take ownership of their professional development.

    Keywords: Talent and Talent Management; Legal Services Industry;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K. "Effective Teamwork and Collaboration." In Managing Talent for Success: Talent Development in Law Firms, edited by R. Normand-Hochman, 145–159. London, UK: Globe Business Publishing, Ltd., 2013.
  2. Knowledge-based Innovation: Emergence and Embedding of New Practice Areas in Management Consulting Firms

    How do innovative knowledge-based structures emerge and become embedded in organizations? We drew on theories of knowledge-intensive firms, communities of practice, and professional service firms to analyze multiple cases of new practice area creation in management consulting firms. Our qualitative analysis identified four critical generative elements: socialized agency, differentiated expertise, defensible turf, and organizational support. We demonstrate that these elements must be combined in specific pathways for knowledge-based innovative structures to emerge and embed. These pathways emerge from practitioner networks, markets for knowledge-based services, and professional firms' hierarchies. Our findings have important implications for studying innovation in the knowledge-based economy.

    Keywords: Competency and Skills; Innovation and Invention; Knowledge; Organizations; Practice; Mathematical Methods; Consulting Industry;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K., N. Anand, and Tim Morris. "Knowledge-based Innovation: Emergence and Embedding of New Practice Areas in Management Consulting Firms." In Management Consulting, edited by Stephanos Avakian and Timothy Clark. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2012.
  3. Structuring Consulting Firms

    This chapter presents a model of the way in which consulting and other professional-service firms organize themselves and grow. We will argue that the fundamental structural-design challenge for consulting firms, like other professional firms, is to adapt appropriately to market and institutional demands. Central to this challenge are decisions about how best to organize the expertise they marshal to compete. Expertise is organized at two levels: at a micro level through flexible project-team structures and at a macro level principally through units called practices. Macro structural choices define and promote development of the practice portfolio.

    Keywords: Experience and Expertise; Management Practices and Processes; Demand and Consumers; Service Operations; Organizational Design; Organizational Structure; Projects; Groups and Teams; Consulting Industry; Service Industry;

    Citation:

    Morris, Tim, Heidi K. Gardner, and N. Anand. "Structuring Consulting Firms." In The Oxford Handbook of Management Consulting, edited by Matthias Kipping and Timothy Clark. Oxford University Press, 2012.
  4. Utilizing Team Member Expertise Under Pressure

    Pressure intensifies on a strategy consulting team as they deliver a critical project, and the team manager faces a dilemma about her changing role on the team. Although she had been the key decision-maker in the early weeks of the project, Julia Narino now finds that her team increasingly discounts her deep client expertise while deferring to the senior partner's more generalized contributions. Trouble arises because the client expects the team to deliver a highly customized solution that absolutely requires Julia's expertise. This case presents an opportunity for students to analyze two prevailing aspects of organizational life: working in teams and working under pressure. This case also offers a platform for instructors to introduce the concept of threat rigidity to the class and explore some of the team behaviors that result from this condition.

    Keywords: Experience and Expertise; Managerial Roles; Organizational Culture; Projects; Groups and Teams; Behavior; Customization and Personalization; Consulting Industry;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K., and Erin McFee. "Utilizing Team Member Expertise Under Pressure." Chap. 18 in Group Communication: Cases for Analysis, Appreciation and Application, edited by Laura W. Black, 143–148. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing, 2010.
  5. Cross-cultural Research in Organizational Behavior

    Globalization and regionalization of business have increasingly compelled researchers to integrate the concept of cultural variation into business research and practice. This chapter addresses how culture links to organizational phenomena at the individual, group, and firm levels. We argue for a need to shift from proximal, intra-individual influences (i.e., cultural values) to distal influences in order to determine how culture shapes behavior and cognition. The chapter reviews key classic frameworks that underlie cross-cultural theory and outlines more recent research that elucidates specific mechanisms for how culture affects the actors' behaviors. Finally, we highlight recent advances in cross-cultural research, suggesting how new directions can shape future research.

    Keywords: Values and Beliefs; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Organizational Culture; Research; Behavior; Culture;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K., and P. Christopher Earley. "Cross-cultural Research in Organizational Behavior." In The Sage Handbook of Organizational Behavior. 2 vols. Edited by C.L. Cooper, J. Barling, and S. Clegg. Sage Publications, 2008.
  6. Your Expertise: Creating and Developing Successful New Legal Practices

    Keywords: Experience and Expertise; Practice; Success; Law; Legal Services Industry;

    Citation:

    Gardner, H. K., T. Morris, and N. Anand. "Your Expertise: Creating and Developing Successful New Legal Practices." In Managing the Modern Law Firm, edited by Laura Empson. Oxford University Press, 2007.
  7. Internal Dynamics and Cultural Intelligence in Multinational Teams

    Keywords: Groups and Teams; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues;

    Citation:

    Earley, P. C., and H. K. Gardner. "Internal Dynamics and Cultural Intelligence in Multinational Teams." In Managing Multinational Teams: Global Perspectives, edited by D. Shapiro, M. A. Von Glinow, and J. L.C. Cheng, 1–31. Elsevier, 2005.

Working Papers

  1. The Collaboration Imperative for Today's Law Firms: Leading High-Performance Teamwork for Maximum Benefit

  2. Expertise Dissensus: A Multi-level Model of Teams' Differing Perceptions about Member Expertise

    Why are some teams more effective than others at using their members' expertise to achieve short-term performance and longer term developmental benefits? We propose that a critical factor is expertise dissensus-members' differing perceptions of each other's level of expertise. We argue that performance hinges on how team members perceive all others' expertise-not just how they view the most expert team member-and that even latent disagreement about how much each person can contribute will undermine individuals' development and teams' capacity building. We develop and test a multi-level model of expertise dissensus, finding that it hampers team coordination, increases task and relationship conflict, and lowers all dimensions of team effectiveness: team performance, team viability, and individual member development.

    Keywords: Groups and Teams; Failure; Experience and Expertise; Research; Performance Effectiveness; Knowledge Use and Leverage; Perception; Personal Development and Career;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K., and Lisa Kwan. "Expertise Dissensus: A Multi-level Model of Teams' Differing Perceptions about Member Expertise ." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 12-070, February 2012. (Revised March 2012.)
  3. Dynamically Integrating Knowledge in Teams: Transforming Resources into Performance

    In knowledge-based environments, teams must develop a systematic approach to integrating knowledge resources throughout the course of projects in order to perform effectively. Yet, many teams fail to do so. Drawing on the resource-based view of the firm, we examine how teams can develop a knowledge-integration capability to dynamically integrate members' resources into higher performance. We distinguish among three sets of resources: relational, experiential, and structural, and propose that they differentially influence a team's knowledge-integration capability. We test our theoretical framework using data on knowledge workers in professional services, and discuss implications for research and practice.

    Keywords: Interpersonal Communication; Knowledge Sharing; Knowledge Use and Leverage; Performance Effectiveness; Quality; Groups and Teams; Risk and Uncertainty; Familiarity;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K., Francesca Gino, and Bradley R. Staats. "Dynamically Integrating Knowledge in Teams: Transforming Resources into Performance." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 11-009, July 2010. (Revised September 2011.)
  4. Disagreement about the Team's Status Hierarchy: An Insidious Obstacle to Coordination and Performance

    Hierarchies are pervasive in groups, generally providing clear guidelines for the dominance and deference behaviors that members are expected to show based on their relative ranks. But what happens when team members disagree about where each member ranks on the status hierarchy? While some research has examined overt status rivalries (Sutton & Hargadon, 1996), typically focusing on battles for the top positions (Groysbert, Polzer & Elfenbein, 2009; Overbeck, Correll, & Park, 2005), our study contributes novel findings on the effects of disagreement amongst all members' perceptions of their team's status hierarchy. This paper develops and tests a theory to explain how even small differences in members' status perceptions-differences that may not be apparent to the members themselves-can diminish coordination, generate task conflict, and weaken performance.

    We identify two conditions-time pressure and intragroup familiarity-under which team members' disagreements on the status hierarchy are more likely to lead to poor coordination and increased conflict. Survey data from a longitudinal field study of 89 consulting and accounting teams from a Big Four firm allow us to examine how teams experience status disagreement over time. Independent, third-party performance data for each team demonstrates how coordination and conflict ultimately affect performance with clients.

    These findings contribute both to the micro-status literature (especially to the growing body of research on the role of status in shaping team dynamics and outcomes) and more broadly to the team effectiveness literature.

    Keywords: Performance Effectiveness; Groups and Teams; Behavior; Conflict and Resolution; Perception; Status and Position; Cooperation;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K. "Disagreement about the Team's Status Hierarchy: An Insidious Obstacle to Coordination and Performance." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 10-113, June 2010.
  5. Performance Pressure as a Double-Edged Sword: Enhancing Team Motivation While Undermining the Use of Team Knowledge

    In this paper, I develop and empirically test the proposition that performance pressure acts as a double-edged sword for teams, providing positive effects by enhancing team motivation to achieve good results while simultaneously triggering process losses. I conducted a multi-method field study of 78 audit and consulting teams from two global professional firms, revealing an irony of team life: Even though motivated to perform well on a high-stakes project, pressured teams are more likely to engage in performance-detracting behaviors. Survey results show that, as performance pressure increases, team members begin to over-rely on general expertise while discounting domain-specific expertise, leading to suboptimal performance. I use longitudinal qualitative case studies to explore the underlying behavioral mechanisms that generate this outcome. Results also show that only domain-specific expertise-the kind that teams under-use when facing higher pressure-increases client-rated team performance. I thus find, paradoxically, that when teams need domain-specific expertise the most, they tend to use it the least, despite evidence suggesting they are highly motivated to do well on their task.

    Keywords: Experience and Expertise; Knowledge Use and Leverage; Performance Effectiveness; Performance Expectations; Groups and Teams;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K. "Performance Pressure as a Double-Edged Sword: Enhancing Team Motivation While Undermining the Use of Team Knowledge." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 09-126, April 2009. (Revised January 2012.)

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. GlaxoSmithKline: Sourcing Complex Professional Services, Supplementary Materials

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K., and Silvia Hodges Silverstein. "GlaxoSmithKline: Sourcing Complex Professional Services, Supplementary Materials." Harvard Business School Supplement 414-034, September 2013.
  2. GlaxoSmithKline: Sourcing Complex Professional Services

    Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) uses an innovative new approach to procuring outside legal counsel: it replaces relationship-based selection and law firms' traditional time-based billing with data-driven decision making and an online reverse auction. In the case, GSK is hit with a potentially devastating suit and must hire a firm in time to respond. The recently hired managing attorney, Sophia Keating, grapples with GSK's approach. The GSK veterans assure her that the approach drives down costs and improves the quality of work by systematically increasing the rigor in the procurement process. Still skeptical, Sophia runs the process of systematically analyzing and comparing the competing firms' bids. This case also describes the process by which these tools were created and adopted. Beyond the implications for law firms and other service providers, lessons from this case are applicable for teaching about institutional change, procurement processes relevant to many fields, and how to increase rigor in typically informal business processes.

    Keywords: legal industry; procurement; change management; professional service firms; pricing; competition; Competition; Change Management; Supply Chain Management; Legal Liability; Business Processes; Legal Services Industry; Pharmaceutical Industry;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K., and Silvia Hodges Silverstein. "GlaxoSmithKline: Sourcing Complex Professional Services." Harvard Business School Case 414-003, September 2013.
  3. Michael Clark at Regency Consulting Partners

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K. "Michael Clark at Regency Consulting Partners." Harvard Business School Case 414-040, September 2013.
  4. Collaborating for Growth: Duane Morris in a Turbulent Legal Sector

    By the late 2000s, the law firm Duane Morris had transformed itself from a growing U.S. law firm to a significant global player. The firm's uniquely collaborative organizational culture, which featured a transparent, data-driven compensation system, practice-group integration across multiple offices, and rewards for attorneys who shared responsibility, had contributed to the firm's success as it had expanded into new U.S. and international offices. Yet, amid a shaky world economy and an increasingly cutthroat legal profession, Duane Morris attorneys began to wonder—could collaboration survive as a firm value? Would the firm's culture help it continue to grow in the years ahead and bring in more sophisticated legal work, or would its lawyers inevitably start to keep work to themselves as the firm navigated an ever-more competitive environment?

    Keywords: professional service firm; Management Practices and Processes; collaboration; performance management; organizational culture; growth and development strategy; Risk and Uncertainty; Competition; Management Practices and Processes; Organizational Structure; Groups and Teams; Organizational Culture; Performance; Cooperation; Globalized Firms and Management; Compensation and Benefits; Volatility; Growth and Development Strategy; Legal Services Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K., and Annelena Lobb. "Collaborating for Growth: Duane Morris in a Turbulent Legal Sector." Harvard Business School Case 414-022, July 2013.
  5. Bridgewater Associates

    Bridgewater Associates was the world's largest hedge fund with approximately $120 billion in assets under management in mid-2012, and its leaders attribute its record-beating performance to the firm's culture of "radical transparency." The founder, Ray Dalio, was instrumental in developing this unique culture, but at the time of the case he was transitioning out of the firm's leadership and attempting to institutionalize the culture. For example, Dalio codified his personal and management principles in a 123-page document that was not only mandatory reading for all employees, but also formed the basis for nightly "homework" assignments that quizzed people on their understanding of the principles. The case offers the opportunity to explore the unusual practices that underpin Bridgewater's culture (e.g., videotaping meetings, publicizing every employee's performance review, interrupting investment meetings to provide personal feedback to individuals in front of dozens of colleagues). Class discussion prompts students to critically examine whether, how and to what extent the practices foster high performance and to debate their associated tradeoffs.

    Keywords: Management Style; Motivation and Incentives; Management Practices and Processes; Organizational Culture; Performance; Leadership Style; Investment; Financial Services Industry;

    Citation:

    Polzer, Jeffrey T., and Heidi K. Gardner. "Bridgewater Associates." Harvard Business School Video Case 413-702, May 2013.
  6. Bridgewater Associates (TP)

    Citation:

    Polzer, Jeffrey, and Heidi K. Gardner. "Bridgewater Associates (TP)." Harvard Business School Teaching Plan 413-115, May 2013.
  7. Crafting a Career Narrative for New Professionals

    Description: This note suggests an approach for developing an effective "career narrative"—a tool for packaging and sharing a professional's past achievements, long-term goals, and forward-looking needs through a compelling story. It focuses mostly on the ways junior professionals can leverage their career story, but also considers what role more senior mentors can—and should—play in cultivating and sharing juniors' career narratives.

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K., and Adam Zalisk. "Crafting a Career Narrative for New Professionals." Harvard Business School Background Note 413-122, June 2013. (Revised August 2013.)
  8. Ganging up on Cancer: Integrative Research Centers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (TN) (A) and (B)

    Keywords: Health Industry;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K. "Ganging up on Cancer: Integrative Research Centers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (TN) (A) and (B)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 412-112, March 2012. (Revised March 2012.)
  9. Marshall & Gordon: Designing an Effective Compensation System (TN) (A) and (B)

    Keywords: Compensation and Benefits;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K., and Erin McFee. "Marshall & Gordon: Designing an Effective Compensation System (TN) (A) and (B)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 412-077, March 2012.
  10. Ganging Up on Cancer: Integrative Research Centers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (A)

    Dr. Barrett Rollins, Chief Scientific Officer of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, attempts to engender cross-scientist collaboration by applying project management principles to medical research. The resulting innovation, Integrative Research Centers, are novel in this field and present a substantial challenge to the Institute's culture, which had previously allowed faculty scientists complete autonomy over their research. Center leaders are required to develop a business plan, adhere to agreed-upon performance metrics, and undergo regular progress reviews conducted by a peer-led oversight committee. The Center for Nanotechnology in Cancer, a new but crucial center in the program, has failed to meet almost all of its objectives in the first year. Furthermore, a heated dispute between two faculty members in the center has complicated matters significantly. Rollins is flummoxed by these problems because he thought he had provided resources and clear objectives to all of the centers. He must urgently diagnose the main reason(s) for the center's shortcomings and develop a plan of action so that this center's problems do not undermine the whole initiative toward greater scientific collaboration.

    Keywords: Problems and Challenges; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Change Management; Motivation and Incentives; Employees; Performance Evaluation; Leadership Style; Leadership; Collaborative Innovation and Invention; Innovation and Management;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K., Edo Bedzra, and Shereef M. Elnahal. "Ganging Up on Cancer: Integrative Research Centers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (A)." Harvard Business School Case 412-029, September 2011. (Revised October 2012.)
  11. Ganging Up on Cancer: Integrative Research Centers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (B)

    Keywords: Health Disorders; Research;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K., Edo Bedzra, and Shereef M. Elnahal. "Ganging Up on Cancer: Integrative Research Centers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 412-098, January 2012. (Revised October 2012.)
  12. Hiring Successful Professionals: One Process--Multiple Goals

    The best hiring practices help professional firms attract successful employees, equip newcomers with critical support networks, increase the firm's diversity, and enhance its reputation. This Note delineates how leading firms manage these multiple objectives throughout the entire process of forecasting, sourcing, and onboarding top talent. It also expands on potential misalignments that can arise and tradeoffs firms face in building and executing an integrated hiring strategy.

    Keywords: Integration; Goals and Objectives; Selection and Staffing; Talent and Talent Management; Management Practices and Processes; Forecasting and Prediction; Employees; Diversity Characteristics; Service Industry;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K. "Hiring Successful Professionals: One Process--Multiple Goals." Harvard Business School Background Note 411-028, July 2010. (Revised September 2011.)
  13. Hiring Professionals in China: A Practitioner's Guide

    This note outlines how leading professional service firms operating in China revise their standard hiring practices to fit local challenges and customs. Based on interviews with professionals in a number of established accounting, strategy consulting, and executive search firms presently operating in China, it explores best practices they use to hire exceptional professionals who will succeed in building high quality client relationships, delivering appropriately innovative thinking, and helping their firms grow and improve performance—all within China's unique political and cultural context.

    Keywords: Talent and Talent Management; Globalized Firms and Management; Employees; Selection and Staffing; Service Industry; China;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K. "Hiring Professionals in China: A Practitioner's Guide." Harvard Business School Background Note 411-029, July 2010. (Revised September 2011.)
  14. Eden McCallum: A Network-Based Consulting Firm (A)

    Eden McCallum pioneered the network-based ("virtual") consulting firm model in the U.K. Contracting freelance consultants on a per-project basis keeps overheads lean so that Eden McCallum's fees are a fraction of the big firms' rates. Their flexible, low-cost model has attracted top-notch corporate clients, resulting in steady double-digit annual growth in its first nine years. In January 2009, however, the global economic crisis has dramatically reshaped the competitive landscape and the founders must decide between pursuing their high-growth strategy versus retrenching—including cutting costs and pulling out of their first international expansion that they had launched the prior year. This case explores how the elements of a firm's innovative model reinforce each other and what happens when the environment changes.

    Keywords: Business Model; Decision Choices and Conditions; Financial Crisis; Growth and Development Strategy; Expansion; Consulting Industry; United Kingdom;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K., and Robert G. Eccles. "Eden McCallum: A Network-Based Consulting Firm (A)." Harvard Business School Case 410-056, September 2009. (Revised February 2011.)
  15. Eden McCallum: A Network-Based Consulting Firm (B)

    To weather the 2009 financial crisis, Eden McCallum's cofounders must renegotiate partners' compensation, attract independent consultants to meet different client demands, and reassure their Advisory Board that their network-based consulting model remains sound. The case outlines decisions taken and financial results through the end of fiscal year 2010.

    Keywords: Business Model; Decision Choices and Conditions; Financial Crisis; Entrepreneurship; Governing and Advisory Boards; Compensation and Benefits; Partners and Partnerships; Consulting Industry;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K., and Erin McFee. "Eden McCallum: A Network-Based Consulting Firm (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 411-027, July 2010. (Revised February 2011.)
  16. Eden McCallum: A Network-Based Consulting Firm (TN) (A) & (B)

    Teaching Note for 410056 and 411027.

    Keywords: Networks; Consulting Industry;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K., and Erin McFee. "Eden McCallum: A Network-Based Consulting Firm (TN) (A) & (B)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 410-116, March 2010. (Revised July 2010.)
  17. Eden McCallum

    This case illustrates the leadership and management challenges of starting a new firm based on a new business model and how success creates pressures that challenge the work/life balance which was one of the original goals of its two founders. The case also raises issues about the changing nature of careers and changing preferences people have for structuring their personal and professional lives.

    Keywords: Business Model; Business Startups; Entrepreneurship; Leadership; Work-Life Balance;

    Citation:

    Gardner, Heidi K., and Robert G. Eccles. "Eden McCallum." Harvard Business School Case 409-060, November 2008.

    Research Summary

  1. Current Research

    Professor Gardner’s research investigates two primary research questions, both particularly relevant to the management of professional service firms:  (1) How are project teams able to most effectively use their members’ expertise in order to achieve their fullest potential, and why are some teams better than others at doing so?, and (2) What elements of organizational design support (or hinder) effective coordination and knowledge-based innovation necessary for high-quality client service?   Professor Gardner is developing a nascent research initiative to unite these two research streams: investigating the role of teams (both project teams and senior leadership teams) as integrating mechanisms to enhance coordination and knowledge sharing across intra-organizational boundaries.

      Awards & Honors

    1. Heidi K. Gardner: Selected as the Outstanding Reviewer for Organizational Behavior Division of the Academy of Management in 2009.

    2. Heidi K. Gardner: Won the 2009 Outstanding Practical Implications for Management Paper from the Organizational Behavior Division of the Academy of Management for “Feeling the Heat: The Effects of Performance Pressure on Teams’ Knowledge Use and Performance” (Best Paper Proceedings of the Academy of Management, 2009).

    3. Heidi K. Gardner: Awarded first place in the 2007 INFORMS/Organization Science Dissertation Proposal Competition for “Expertise Utilization in Project Teams: A Status-Based Account of Process and Performance.”

    MSN.com
    October 11, 2011

    Deborah Aarts

    Most CEOs believe there's value in assembling cross-functional teams of star players. Most also know the frustration of getting these talented individuals to work as an effective group. A new working paper from Heidi Gardner and Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School and Bradley Staats of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggests an answer.

    CNNMoney
    August 10, 2011

    Ethan Rouen

    For many companies, using salary to compete for top talent is often a losing battle. But talented employees often look for several other qualities in jobs when deciding whether to make a move.

    CBSNews.com
    09/30/2010

    Sean Silverthrone

    Team dynamics often change significantly -- and not for the better -- when a team is under deadline or other pressure. It's critical for team leaders to understand what is happening and why and how to pull the group back together.

    Economist
    01/21/2010

    Matthew Bishop