Martha Jeong - Faculty & Research - Harvard Business School
Photo of Martha Jeong

Martha Jeong


Doctoral Student

Martha Jeong is a Ph.D. student in the Organizational Behavior program jointly offered by the Harvard Business School and the Department of Psychology at Harvard. Martha's research relies on multiple methods in the laboratory and field to identify communication and decision strategies used in goal-driven interactions that lead to sub-optimal objective, interpersonal, and organizational outcomes.

Her first stream of research focuses on identifying misalignments in communication strategies, whereby: 1) communicators mis-predict what they are signaling; or 2) recipients make errors in attributions based on signals they receive. Her research documents that communication errors often result because of a tension between what communicators want to achieve interpersonally versus what they stand to gain objectively. She focuses on both negotiations and communications in the workplace.

Her second stream of research explores how a chosen decision strategy affects: 1) subjective attitudes towards the decision; and 2) decision-maker evaluations. She finds that individuals hold inconsistent beliefs on how decisions should ideally be made, preferring to follow their own intuition, but recommending that others adhere to a structured process. This preference for intuition is driven by the enjoyment decision-makers derive from having decisional autonomy, leading them to also feel more responsible for subsequent outcomes. This finding has interesting implications – while organizations rightly espouse decision-makers to follow processes to reduce error, an unforeseen consequence may be that accountability is reduced.

Martha is currently collaborating with a Formula One racing team conducting on-site interviews and running experimental studies. She is 
looking at the extent to which elite motorsport engineers rely on their intuition versus a structured process and how these decision conflicts are resolved. 

Martha received her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2007 and her B.A. from Rice University in 2003.  Prior to pursuing her doctorate, Martha was a litigation attorney in San Francisco.
Journal Articles
  1. Communicating Warmth in Distributive Negotiations is Surprisingly Counter-productive

    M. Jeong, J. Minson, M. Yeomans and F. Gino

    When entering into a negotiation, individuals have the choice to enact a variety of communication styles. We test the differential impact of being “warm and friendly” versus “tough and firm” in a distributive negotiation, when first offers are held constant and concession patterns are tracked. We train a natural language processing algorithm to precisely quantify the difference between how people enact warm versus tough communication styles. We find that the two styles differ primarily in length and their expressions of politeness (Study 1). Negotiators with a tough communication style achieved better economic outcomes than negotiators with a warm communication style, both in a field experiment (Study 2) and in a laboratory experiment (Study 3). This was driven by the fact that offers delivered in tough language elicited more favorable counteroffers. We further find that the counterparts of warm versus tough negotiators did not report different levels of satisfaction or enjoyment of their interactions (Study 3). Finally, in Study 4 we document that individuals’ lay beliefs are in direct opposition to our findings: participants believe that authors of warmly worded negotiation offers will be better liked and will achieve better economic outcomes.

    Keywords: Negotiation Style; Communication Strategy; Perception; Outcome or Result;

    Citation:

    Jeong, M., J. Minson, M. Yeomans, and F. Gino. "Communicating Warmth in Distributive Negotiations is Surprisingly Counter-productive." Management Science (in press).  View Details