Doctoral Student

Lisa Kwan

Lisa Kwan is a PhD Candidate joint between Harvard Business School and the Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Science.  Her research interests focus on the tensions organizations face in sharing knowledge and resources across boundaries.  She has projects both in the experimental lab and in the field via interviews and survey data.

Her developing expertise areas include: inter-group competition, geographically-dispersed teams, intra-group fractures, team effectiveness, information-sharing in teams, and expertise and status issues in groups.  "Groups" in Lisa's world span from large organizations and companies to divisions, departments, and small teams.


Lisa Kwan is a PhD Candidate joint between Harvard Business School and the Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Science.  Her research interests focus on the tensions organizations face in sharing knowledge and resources across boundaries.  She has projects both in the experimental lab and in the field via interviews and survey data.

Her developing expertise areas include: inter-group competition, geographically-dispersed teams, intra-group fractures, team effectiveness, and information-sharing and expertise issues inside groups.  "Groups" in Lisa's world span from large organizations, companies, and governments to divisions, departments, and small teams. 

While Lisa’s prior research has focused on intra-group topics, her dissertation focuses on the spaces in between groups. One direction of her dissertation research explores how groups – such as divisions, departments, and teams – manage overlap with one another within the same organization.  Through one theory paper (winner of the 2015 best paper (theoretical or empirical) award in the Conflict Management Division at the Academy of Management) and one empirical paper, Lisa introduces the phenomenon of territory management among groups in organizations.

The second direction of her dissertation research explores the interaction between inter-group processes and intra-group processes.  Specifically, through inductive field research, Lisa finds that the often taken-for-granted processes and routines that link groups inside organizations can asymmetrically protect one group’s internal plans and processes over that of another group’s.  How the asymmetry aligns with the relative power of the involved groups has consequences for how much groups short-circuit one another, and implications for productivity, inter-group relationships, and intra-group emotions.

Lisa has published Harvard Business School cases on managing business ties in emerging markets (published in both English and Chinese) and balancing creativity and business in high-end fashion. She has a working paper on the complexities of utilizing expertise within teams, and she recently co-wrote a book chapter on the implications of subgroups within teams, which was published in the capstone volume of the foundational series, Research on Managing Groups and Teams*.

She has additional research experience in the public health, multinational hospitality, and professional services sectors.

Lisa obtained her Master of Science, with distinction, from the University of Oxford, and her Bachelor of Science from McGill University.  Her undergraduate thesis was focused on motivation, resilience in the face of failure, and goal achievement for which she was awarded the Canadian Psychological Association's Award for Dissertation Excellence.  She was an Oxford Clarendon International Scholar and is a recipient of the Canadian Science Achievement Gold Medal.

Lisa thanks her PhD adviser-mentors Richard Hackman (in memoriam), Jeff Polzer, Amy Edmondson, Francesca Gino, and Lakshmi Ramarajan.

*Cases co-authored with Roy Chua; working paper co-authored with Heidi Gardner; book chapter co-authored with Jeff Polzer.

 


Working Papers

  1. 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.) View Details

Presentations

  1. Thin Slices of Group Conflict

    Jeff Polzer, Patricia Hernandez, Lisa Kwan, Ben Waber and Sandy Pentland

    Citation:

    Polzer, Jeff, Patricia Hernandez, Lisa Kwan, Ben Waber, and Sandy Pentland. "Thin Slices of Group Conflict." Paper presented at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Montreal, Canada, August 2010. View Details