Wannawiruch Wiruchnipawan


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Doctoral Student

I am a second year PhD student in Organizational Behavior at Harvard University.  My research interests lie at the intersection between leadership, teamwork and creativity.  I investigate interactions between leaders and subordinates in dyadic and team contexts, as well as the effects of different leadership and teamwork styles on creativity.  I also explore if and how pro-social and indigenous values could influence leader-subordinate relationships, team effectiveness, and creative performance.

I graduated from Harvard College in 2010 with an A.B cum laude in Economics, a secondary field in Psychology, and a citation in Chinese.  As a native Thai, I was born in Chachoengsao before moving to Bangkok at the age of 10.  I have a long hard-to-pronounce Thai name-Wannawiruch Wiruchnipawan-and usually go by a shorter catchier one-Fon.  I came to the US years ago and have been actively involved in the Thai community here.  As an undergrad, I led the Harvard Thai Society and received the Yenching scholarship to study intensive Chinese in Beijing.  Prior to starting the Organizational Behavior program, I worked as an undergrad research assistant for Professor Jeff Polzer on research projects relating to teams and diversity.  Over the years I have found multicultural experiences nurturing for leadership development and innovative thinking, the realization of which has steered my research curiosity toward such areas. 

Besides work, I enjoy learning languages, writing blogs, cooking, jogging, listening to music, watching movies, and, recently, learning to play video games.



  1. Perceiving Collaborative Potential

    Patricia Satterstrom, Lisa Kwan, Wannawiruch Wiruchnipawan and Jeff Polzer


    Satterstrom, Patricia, Lisa Kwan, Wannawiruch Wiruchnipawan, and Jeff Polzer. "Perceiving Collaborative Potential." Paper presented at the International Association for Conflict Management Annual Conference, Istanbul, Turkey, June 2011. View Details

    Research Summary

  1. Lead-by-Help with Professor Jeff Polzer

    by Wannawiruch Wiruchnipawan

    This study examines if and under which conditions "lead-by-help," defined here as the extent to which leaders anticipatorily act to assist subordinates in completing their work, may not be viewed as favorable as would rationally be expected.  In both laboratory and field settings we investigate if and when such help contributes to subordinates' perception of their work as more meaningful, thus leading them to affectively commit to work, put in higher effort, and achieving better work performance.  The condition being investigated is the level of leaders' pro-social values (low self-oriented and high other-oriented values), which may signal to subordinates the type of motives behind lead-by-help.  We draw on attribution theory and proposes that 1) unsolicited lead-by-help (leaders anticipatorily offer assistance rather than responding to requests) leads to higher effort and better performance 2) by enhancing subordinates' perceived meaning of their work, and that 3) the relationships hold so long as subordinates view leaders as possessing pro-social values, thus attributing leaders' helping behaviors to benevolent motives.
  2. Contentment with Professor Roy Chua

    by Wannawiruch Wiruchnipawan

    Middle-Way is one of the core principles of Buddhism-it promotes a moderate lifestyle that is self-sufficient and void of excesses or extremes in any life domains.  People with this type of lifestyle live a "content" life.  However, could life contentment in any way harm work performance?  By using archival and survey data from a technological Thai company in Thailand, where the Middle-Way concept is widespread, content lives ubiquitous, and creative performance sought after, we aim to answer this very question and seek a potential remedy.  In specific, we argue that life contentment could harm employees' creative performance by diluting the promotion-focus motivation that is needed for creativity, yet transformational leadership-leadership style that inspires employees to do more than expected of them (Bass, 1985)-could potentially attenuate the effect.  Cross-cultural implications will also be explored.
  3. Lingua Franca Use with Professor Tsedal Neeley and Professor Jeff Polzer

    by Wannawiruch Wiruchnipawan

    In a laboratory setting, we tested the casual effect of an English-only mandate on nonnative speakers' perceptions of status differences vis-à-vis native speakers, and investigated the role of English fluency as a marker of an achieved status in moderating these perceptions.  We also explored if and how nonnative speakers' verbal patterns changed under the mandate condition, and how these changes impacted communication implications.  Regression analyses showed that the English mandate widened the perceived gap in status between nonnative and native speakers but the effect decreased as fluency increased.  In addition, content analyses indicated that nonnative speakers' verbal patterns under the mandate condition differed significantly from the no-mandate condition in such ways that might reduce communication effectiveness.
  4. Thin Slices of Teams with Professor Jeff Polzer, Patricia Satterstrom, and Lisa Kwan

    by Wannawiruch Wiruchnipawan

    How do people evaluate team effectiveness from short observations of interactions among team members?  What are the cues people take in in such narrow windows of experience?  What contributes to the accuracy of evaluations based on thin slices of observations?  Building on Ambady & Rosenthal's (1992) Thin Slices research, we apply and extend the Thin Slices research to the team contexts.  We have created and validated a set of videos each of which has a team of four interacting and collaborating on different tasks.  We aim to use the video stimuli to answer these questions by exploring if and how, for instance, team diversity, team members' interactions, and perceived collaborative potentials account for the accuracy in thin slices judgment of teams.
  5. Teamwork and Innovative Behavior with Professor Jeff Polzer and Hila Lifshitz

    by Wannawiruch Wiruchnipawan

    In a field setting, we explore how teamwork could enhance team members' interpersonal relationships and work performance.  We collect longitudinal survey data and measure creative performance of a US company's employees before, during, and after they undergo a month-long team project.  We hope to investigate psychological processes such as organizational identifications and individual/team outcomes such as innovative behavior and team efficacy as results of teamwork.

      Area of Study

      • Psychology