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

Catarina Fernandes

Status Spillover: How status in one group influences perceptions and behavior in other groups
Through my dissertation on the dynamic nature of status across groups I am looking at the interplay between the different status levels we possess across the multiple groups we belong to. How does the extent to which our status is consistent or inconsistent across those multiple groups affect how we see ourselves and how we behave towards others? Does our status "spillover" from one group to another, such that the status we hold in one context affects our perceptions of our own status and, consequently, our behavior and contribution to the group effort in other apparently unrelated groups? I explore these and related questions through the use of experimental methods in the lab and field studies with organizations.
Faculty Advisor(s): J. PolzerL. RamarajanA. Brooks, and S.Jang


J. Yo-Jud Cheng

When to Take the Leap: The Antecedents and Consequences of Leapfrog CEOs
Faculty Advisor(s): B. Groysberg (Chair), J. Rivkin, and P. Healy