Information will be updated throughout the summer and fall.


Daniel A. Brown

Zero-Sum Games & Zero-Sum Frames: Employee Cognitive Consequences of Financial Firm Performance
Despite extensive research on how worker satisfaction positively affects the financial performance of firms, we know little about how firms’ measurement and reporting of financial performance affects the satisfaction of workers. Through seven field experiments, I find that operationalizing firm performance through financial performance measures paradoxically reduces workers’ satisfaction with the firm due to increased zero-sum perceptions of firm financial performance and the zero-sum nature of exchange value capture, which reduce the perceived meaningfulness of work and ultimately workers’ satisfaction (Studies 1-5). A field experiment with managers across a diverse sample of firms further supports these findings, revealing an increase in managers’ zero-sum perceptions toward the firm-employee relationship when considering financial performance measures (Study 6). However, workers with more zero-sum mental models of society more broadly may actually prefer financial performance measures. In support of this explanation, I find that whereas workers with lower zero-sum beliefs about society are less satisfied with a firm that measures performance financially, workers with stronger zero-sum beliefs are actually more satisfied with such firms, despite exhibiting lower satisfaction overall (Study 7).
Faculty Advisor(s): L. Ramarajan (Co-Chair), N. Hsieh (Co-Chair), J. Battilana, and M. Luca

Michael Y. Lee

Self-Managing Organizations: The Dynamics and Consequences of Radically Decentralizing Authority
Contemporary management rhetoric is filled with talk about shifting from hierarchical structures to decentralized structures that empower employees and enable organizational flexibility. My dissertation explores less-hierarchical organizing at its extremes by studying organizations that radically decentralize authority, eliminating hierarchical authority altogether. In this research, I explore the dynamics and consequences of radical decentralization through two empirical studies. First, I study the dynamics of how radically decentralized organizations can balance the need for control with the desire to preserve employee autonomy through a 12-month ethnographic case study. My second study examines the consequences of radical decentralization in a 12-month controlled field experiment in a 500-person government agency. My dissertation contributes to the literatures on organizational structure, organizational control and employee autonomy. A core finding of my research is that less-hierarchical organizations are not necessarily less structured, in contrast to prevailing theory (e.g. Burns & Stalker, 1961; Kellogg et al., 2006). This research expands our conception of what a “flat” organizations can be, and highlights the importance of compensatory structures, such as role formalization, for enabling control without hierarchical authority and for reinforcing employee autonomy.
Faculty Advisor(s): A. Edmondson (Chair), L. Perlow, and T. Amabile

Organizational Behavior

Stefan Dimitriadis

Entrepreneurial Social Capital Acquisition in Emerging Markets: A field experiment in Togo
My dissertation studies entrepreneurs and their social networks in the context of developing country markets. In particular, I study entrepreneurs in the context of Togo, a small, impoverished country in West Africa. In the first essay of my dissertation, I study the effect of framing interactions on the formation of ties. To test this, I ran a field experiment with entrepreneurs in Togo in which I exposed a randomly selected subgroup of entrepreneurs to reciprocity frames. Reciprocity frames describe and present interactions as the reciprocated exchange of help. I causally showed that reciprocity framing increased the number of ties that entrepreneurs formed, the skill complementarity of those ties, and the performance of those entrepreneurs’ ventures. In the second essay of my dissertation, I study the effect of participating in formal institutions on the formation of social ties. I find that entrepreneurs who participate in formal institutions in Togo experience a change in their networks, whereby the number of weak ties they possess increases, while the number of strong ties decreases. Finally, in the last essay of my dissertation, I study how social ties mitigate the negative effects of political protests on entrepreneurs’ ventures. In particular, I show that entrepreneurs with more ties to family members who are also entrepreneurs are better able to weather political upheaval and protests. These studies leverage new data and innovative methodologies to study entrepreneurship in one of the most difficult places in the world to start and run a business. As a result, I make contributions to research on entrepreneurial firm performance, social network effects, framing effects, institutions in emerging and developing markets, as well as social movements.
Faculty Advisor(s): J. BattilanaM.SengulR. Koning, and P.Marsden

Alexandra Feldberg

Butchers, Bakers, and Barcharts: How digitized information affects gender differences in performance
Does increased access to digitized information affect the performance of men and women workers differently? In this study, I find that the availability of information in digital platforms disproportionately improves women’s performance in a male-dominated organization. I theorize that digitized information helps women by serving as a relationship substitute, an alternative channel to traditional relationship networks through which peripheral group members can gain access to performance-enhancing information. Using interviews, observations, and archival data, I take advantage of an intervention occurring within a 100-store grocery chain—when it introduced a weekly online report providing managers with a high-level summary of their departments’ performance along key metrics. Comparing sales across 152 departments twelve weeks prior to and following the report’s implementation shows that women managers benefit disproportionately from the report’s introduction but stronger network ties with peers and supervisors attenuate its benefits. Findings offer new directions for research on gender inequality and knowledge transfer by suggesting that digital channels of knowledge distribution can offset disparities arising from relationship networks in organizations.
Faculty Advisor(s): K. McGinnM. TushmanF.Dobbin, and P.Marsden

Catarina Fernandes

Do We See the Same Hierarchy? Status Disagreement in Multicultural Teams and its Consequences for Team Performance
My job market paper explores how the cultural context that team members bring with them to the table can shape the status hierarchy dynamics. It develops and tests a theory of how status disagreement – differing perceptions among team members about who has how much status – emerges in multicultural contexts and ultimately impacts team performance. We posit that, in multicultural teams, the diversity of members’ cultural backgrounds leads to implicit disagreements about who has how much status in the team. More specifically, when team members come from countries that vary along the individualism-collectivism spectrum, status disagreements are more likely to emerge. This effect can be reduced, however, by the amount of time team members have spent time studying or working abroad. When status disagreement does emerge, we expect it to negatively impact team performance, namely by creating coordination problems among team members. Lastly, given that status attributions are expected to be most relevant in informing and influencing team coordination patterns in the absence of a formally elected leader, we predict that the negative effect of status disagreement on team performance is strongest in teams without a formal leadership structure. We test these hypotheses in a study of 784 multinational teams (4,177 participants) collaborating over the course of eight weeks, and find strong support for our theory.
Faculty Advisor(s): J. PolzerL. RamarajanA. Brooks, and S.Jang

Martha Jeong

Communicating with Warmth in Distributive Negotiations is Surprisingly Counter-productive
When entering into a negotiation, individuals have the choice to enact a variety of communication styles. Some people may believe that being warm and ingratiating will inspire their counterparts to reciprocate, making the entire interaction more congenial. Indeed, they may even hope that a particularly congenial interaction will lead the other side to make specific economic concessions. Conversely, others may believe that using tough and firm language is more likely to showcase their resolve and extract greater concessions, with minimal, or at least tolerable, interpersonal penalties. 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 linguistic differences 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 large scale field experiment conducted in an active online marketplace (Study 2) and in a controlled laboratory experiment (Study 3). This was driven by the fact that offers delivered in tough and firm 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, we document that lay beliefs are in direct opposition to our findings: negotiators believe that authors of warmly worded negotiation offers will be better liked and will achieve better economic outcomes (Study 4).
Faculty Advisor(s): F. GinoJ.MinsonL. John, and L. Huang


J. Yo-Jud Cheng

When to Take the Leap: The Antecedents and Consequences of Leapfrog CEOs
Much of the prior research on CEO successions focuses on differences between CEOs appointed from within the firm and those appointed from outside; however, this dichotomy neglects significant heterogeneity in CEOs’ career trajectories. In this study, I examine the environmental antecedents and performance consequences of appointing a “leapfrog” CEO: an internal candidate who is fast-tracked past more senior executives to be appointed as CEO. I propose that under certain conditions, leapfrog CEOs may perform more effectively than traditional-track CEOs because they embody both insider and outsider characteristics. I analyze CEO transitions that occurred between 2001–2013 in large, publicly-traded U.S. firms and find that 16% of transitions involve leapfrog CEOs. Among firms with high pre-succession performance, I find that firms are more likely to appoint a leapfrog CEO when their industry environment is declining – but only when the board engages in CEO succession planning; in addition, I find that leapfrog CEOs are associated with an increase in ROA of approximately 4 percentage points under these conditions and are more likely than other CEO types to shift resources away from legacy businesses. This study offers implications for how firms can use leapfrog CEO successions as a mechanism to adapt to changing environmental conditions and lay the groundwork for strategic change, corporate entrepreneurship, and innovation.
Faculty Advisor(s): B. Groysberg (Chair), J. Rivkin, and P. Healy

Technology & Operations Management

Ohchan Kwon

When Do User Innovators Become Entrepreneurs? Examining the Role of Design Cost
Recent digital transformations reduce the cost of technology commercialization greatly, particularly the cost of translating ideas into products. I examine how such a decrease in design cost affects individual innovators’ career transition into entrepreneurship, as well as their performance. The empirical setting is the video game industry, in which user innovators have created high-quality contents that could be further developed as standalone games. Examining an unexpected business model change of a major game engine software company, which results in providing low-cost development option to some user innovators, I find that users whose contents are compatible with affected game engine are more likely to become entrepreneurs. These user entrepreneurs are also more likely to successfully release standalone games and profit from their innovations. Several factors explain the performance advantages, including their ability to reuse existing knowledge and attract entrepreneurial joiners from prior communities. Together, the findings suggest that the access to complementary assets may act as a significant barrier for potential entrepreneurs, and that a decrease in design cost may facilitate a gale of creative destruction by innovative individuals.
Faculty Advisor(s): S. GreensteinP. Choudhury, and F. Zhu