Assistant Professor of Business Administration
Lakshmi Ramarajan is an Assistant Professor in the Organizational Behavior Unit at Harvard Business School. Her research examines the management and consequences of identities in organizations.
Lakshmi's research examines how people can work fruitfully across social divides, with a particular emphasis on identities and group boundaries. Her research addresses two broad questions: 1) How does the work environment shape people’s experiences as members of particular groups and of their multiple identities? 2) What are the consequences of multiple identities and group differences in organizations? She investigates professional and work identities alongside other identities that are important to people, such as ethnicity, community and family. She examines consequences such as employee engagement and commitment to work, career success and satisfaction, quality of interpersonal and intergroup relations, and performance. In recent work, using experiments, surveys and interviews, she has examined how individuals’ manage their organizational, cultural and personal identities, and how these identities interact to influence engagement and performance.
Lakshmi earned her B.A. (Honors) in International Relations from Wellesley College, her M.Sc. in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and her PhD in Management from The Wharton School of Business. She was awarded the State Farm Foundation Dissertation Proposal Award in 2008. She was a Post Doctoral Fellow at Harvard Business School from 2008 to 2010.
Prior to her academic career, Lakshmi worked in international development, managing conflict resolution programs in West Africa with a focus on gender and workforce development. She was also a professional dancer for several years.
Much of my research examines identities, group boundaries and intergroup relations in organizations.
Identities and Group Boundaries
People often define themselves as members' of multiple social groups -- race, nationality, gender, religion, etc. My primary stream of research investigates this phenomenon and demonstrates that people's psychological experience of managing multiple identities has consequences for groups and organizations. For instance, I have shown that intrapersonal identity conflict harms interpersonal problem-solving, while intrapersonal identity compatibility leads to cooperative behavior. In current projects, I am investigating contextual factors that influence people's experience of multiple identities and the effects of managing multiple identities and crossing group boundaries on prosocial behavior, gender relations, and conflict resolution in organizations.
Affective Processes in Organizations
My second stream of research on affect examines the affective processes underlying interpersonal and intergroup relationships in organizations. For instance, a recent project examines the influence of organizational respect on emotional exhaustion in human service work.