50 Big Ideas


See more


INSEAD has a community of gender researchers that includes psychologists, sociologists, economists, management and finance scholars. We conduct cutting-edge research on gender and the experiences and impact of women in business and society, and meet regularly to share and develop these ongoing research projects.

Gender Research



Scholars have found consistent evidence that directors who served on boards of firms accused of misconduct face reputational penalties in the director labor market. While this is often interpreted in terms of an ex post settling-up process that penalizes directors for failing in their role as monitors of management, the fundamentally social basis of the director labor markets suggests that the ex post settling-up process may also incorporate a resource-provisioning role for directors as conferrers of legitimacy. We analyze how evolving social norms that aim to redress the longstanding underrepresentation of female and ethnic minority directors may lessen—for these sought-after directors—the penalties typically imposed by the labor market in the aftermath of corporate misconduct. Using a proprietary dataset on financial misconduct and directors’ demographic characteristics, we find strong support for our hypotheses regarding a possible “reputational immunity” effect. We also provide supplementary analyses demonstrating the specific mechanisms underlying our predictions, and establishing the robustness of our results to a variety of alternative explanations. We discuss the implications of our theoretical perspective and empirical findings for future research on corporate governance, corporate misconduct, and the possible duality of minority status as it relates to discriminatory outcomes in modern labor markets.


2018 – Do Firms Respond to Gender Pay Gap Disclosure?
Published in National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper Series
By Morten Bennedsen, Elena Simintzi, Margarita Tsoutsoura, & Daniel Wolfenzon

We examine whether pay transparency closes the gender pay gap in firms and affects firm outcomes. The paper exploits a 2006 legislation change in Denmark that requires firms to provide gender dis-aggregated wage statistics. Using detailed employee-employer administrative data we find that the law has an effect in reducing the gender pay gap, primarily through slowing the wage growth for male employees. This effect is more pronounced for firms with better governance, whose managers are more likely to have preferences similar to those of women, and for industries with higher gender pay differentials pretreatment. Such changes in firm wage policies following the passage of the law are associated with negative outcomes on overall firm productivity, but also with a reduction in firm wage bill, resulting in no significant effects on firm profitability. 

Media coverage:



2018 – Homophily and Individual Performance
Published in Organization Science
By Gokhan Ertug, Martin Gargiulo, Charles Galunic, & Tengjian Zou

We study the relationship between choice homophily in instrumental relationships and individual performance in knowledge-intensive organizations. Although homophily should make it easier for people to get access to some colleagues, it may also lead to neglecting relationships with other colleagues, reducing the diversity of information people access through their network. Using data on instrumental ties between bonus-eligible employees in the Equity Sales and Trading division of a global investment bank, we show that the relationship between an employee’s choice of similar colleagues and her performance is contingent on the position this employee occupies in the formal and informal hierarchy of the bank. More specifically, homophily is negatively associated with performance for bankers in the higher levels of the formal and informal hierarchy, whereas the association is either positive or nonexistent for lower hierarchical levels. 


2018 – Gender bias, social impact framing, and evaluation of entrepreneurial ventures
Published in Organization Science
By Matthew Lee & Laura Huang

Recent studies find that female-led ventures are penalized relative to male-led ventures as a result of role incongruity or a perceived “lack of fit” between female stereotypes and expected personal qualities of business entrepreneurs. We examine whether social impact framing that emphasizes a venture’s social–environmental welfare benefits, which research has shown to elicit stereotypically feminine attributions of warmth, diminishes these penalties. We initially investigate this proposition in a field study of evaluations of early-stage ventures and find evidence of lessened gender penalties for female-led ventures that are presented using a social impact frame. In a second study, we experimentally validate this effect and show that it is mediated by the effect of social impact framing on perceptions of the entrepreneur’s warmth. The effect of social impact frames on venture evaluations did not apply to men, was not a result of perceptions of increased competence, and was not conditional on the gender of evaluators. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that social impact framing increases attributions of warmth for all entrepreneurs but with positive consequences on business evaluation only for female-led ventures, for which increased perceptions of warmth attenuate female entrepreneurs’ gender role incongruity. 

Media coverage:


Appearing self-confident is instrumental for progressing at work. However, little is known about what makes individuals appear self-confident at work. We draw on attribution and social perceptions literatures to theorize about both antecedents and consequences of appearing self-confident for men and women in male-dominated professions. We suggest that performance is one determinant of whether individuals are seen as confident at work, and that this effect is moderated by gender. We further propose that self-confidence appearance increases the extent to which individuals exert influence in their organizations. However, for women, appearing self-confident is not enough to gain influence. In contrast to men, women in addition are “required” to be prosocially oriented. Multisource, time-lag data from a technology company showed that performance had a positive effect on self-confidence appearance for both men and women. However, the effect of self-confidence appearance on organizational influence was moderated by gender and prosocial orientation, as predicted. Through self-confidence appearance, job performance directly enabled men to exert influence in their organization. In contrast, high performing women gained influence only when their self-confidence appearance was coupled with prosocial orientation. Our results have practical implications for gender equality and leadership. They suggest that HR and senior management should play a key role in building more diversity-friendly organizations. In particular, ensuring that the same job requirements – explicit and implicit – are applied to both female and male employees is crucial for fair individual outcomes in organizations. 

Media coverage:



2017 – Understanding the MBA gender gap: Women respond to gender norms by reducing public assertiveness but not private effort
Published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
By Aaron S. Wallen, Michael W. Morris, Beth A. Devine & Jackson G. Lu

Women’s underperformance in MBA programs has been the subject of recent debate and policy interventions, despite a lack of rigorous evidence documenting when and why it occurs. The current studies document a performance gap, specifying its contours and contributing factors. Two behaviours by female students that may factor into the gap are public conformity and private internalization. We predicted that women conform to the norm associating maleness with technical prowess by minimizing their public assertiveness in class discussions and meetings, but that they do not internalize the norm by reducing private effort. Data from multiple cohorts of a top-ranked MBA program reveal female underperformance occurred in technical subjects (e.g. accounting), but not social subjects (e.g., marketing). As predicted, the gender effect ran not through private effort but through public assertiveness, even controlling for gender differences in interests and aptitudes. These findings support some current policy interventions while casting doubt on others. 

Media coverage:


We analyzed a random sample of individual listings from an online market for peer-to-peer lending to examine the effects of gender and attractiveness on receiving loans. In this setting, we tested the theoretical argument that women are penalized for violating beliefs about women’s social roles when they seek loans for male-typed endeavours, such as running a business. Consistent with this theory, female borrowers seeking loans for business purposes were less likely to receive funding. Surprisingly, women’s facial attractiveness moderated this effect: women seeking business loans were even less likely to receive funding if they were attractive. This result qualifies the conventional notion of beauty as a diffuse asset and underscores the alternative idea that beauty may accentuate perceived femininity and thus exacerbate the disadvantages that women face in male-typed domains. Overall, our research shows that gender beliefs about task-relevant competence can carry over from more formalized organizational contexts into new forms of online transactions that are designed to reduce biases that result from face-to-face interactions. 




2017 – Blurring the boundaries: The interplay of gender and local communities in the commercialization of social ventures
Forthcoming in Organization Science
By Stefan Dimitriadis, Matthew Lee, Lakshmi Ramarajan & Julie Battilana

This paper examines the critical role of gender in the commercialization of social ventures. We argue that cultural beliefs about what is perceived to be appropriate work for each gender influence how founders of social ventures incorporate commercial activity into their ventures. Specifically, we argue and show that although cultural beliefs that disassociate women from commercial activity may result in female social venture founders being less likely to use commercial activity than their male counterparts, these effects are moderated by cultural beliefs about gender and commercial activity within founders’ local communities. The presence of female business owners in the same community mitigates the role of founders’ gender on the use of commercial activity. We examine these issues through a novel sample of 584 social ventures in the United States. We constructively replicate and extend these findings with a supplemental analysis of a second sample, the full population of new non-profit organizations founded during a two-year period in the United States (n = 31, 160). By highlighting how gendered aspects of both the social and commercial sectors interact to shape the use of commercial activity by social venture founders, our findings contribute to research on hybrid organizations in the social sector, communities as a context.



2017 – Gender and connections among Wall Street analysts
Published in The Review of Financial Studies
By Lily Hua Fang & Sterling Huang

We examine how alumni ties with corporate boards differentially affect male and female analysts’ job performance and career outcomes. Connections improve analysts’ forecasting accuracy and recommendation impact, but the effect is two to three times as large for men as for women. Connections also contribute to analysts’ likelihood of being voted by institutional investors as “star” analysts, but act as a partial substitute to performance for men, while a complement to performance for women. Our evidence indicates that men benefit more than women from connections in both job performance and the subjective evaluation by others.

Media coverage:


Deference within a dyad occurs when one partner acknowledges that the other is entitled to some privileges. Although deference is a well-known consequence of relationships between partners of unequal status, little is known on whether deference in one domain can affect interactions between the same actors in other domains. This can happen within multiplex relationships, especially when they involve firms that have both business and personal interactions between their key decision makers. We combine insights from the literatures on status, multiplex relationships, and competitive positioning to examine how actors’ behaviours in a business domain of a multiplex relationship are shaped by the deference norms in a personal domain of the same relationship. We argue that marriages between owner-families of Korean business groups cause deferential behaviours between these families as a function of gender-based status differences within kinship ties. We show empirically that the inter-personal deference resulting from marriage affects business group market entries or exits, and in turn the group’s performance. Thus, we shed light on how deference spillovers represent a novel mechanism through which one partner can extract advantage over another within a multiplex relationship.

Media coverage:



2017 – Share buybacks and gender diversity
Published in Journal of Corporate Finance
By Theodoros Evgeniou & Theo Vermaelen

We find that board gender diversity increases the likelihood that firms announce a buyback but long-term excess returns are significantly smaller when there is larger female representation on the board. This is consistent with the governance hypothesis: gender diversity makes it more likely that firms buy back stock to reduce agency costs of free cash flow. But because gender diversity improves the quality of public information disclosure repurchases are less driven by market timing. Moreover, when the quality of monitoring is lower because board members sit on many other boards, long-term excess returns are larger.

Media coverage:


Two field experiments examined if and how values affirmations can ameliorate stereotype threat-induced gender performance gaps in an international competitive business environment. Based on self-affirmation theory (Steele, 1988), we predicted that writing about personal values unrelated to the perceived threat would attenuate the gender performance gap. Study 1 found that an online assignment to write about one’s personal values (but not a similar writing assignment including organizational values) closed the gender gap in course grades by 89.0% among 423 Masters of Business Administration students (MBAs) at an international business school. Study 2 replicated this effect among 396 MBAs in a different cohort with random assignment and tested 3 related mediators (self-efficacy, self-doubt, and self-criticism). Personal values reflection (but not reflecting on values including those of the organization or writing about others’ values) reduced the gender gap by 66.5%, and there was a significant indirect effect through reduced self-doubt. These findings show that a brief personal values writing exercise can dramatically improve women’s performance in competitive environments where they are negatively stereotyped. The results also demonstrate that stereotype threat (Steele & Aronson, 1995) can occur within a largely non-American population with work experience and that affirming one’s core personal values (without organizational values) can ameliorate the threat.

Media coverage:


This chapter extends our understanding of the paucity of women in senior leadership positions by identifying specific identity mechanisms that can hinder junior women’s transitions to more senior roles. We introduce the term impossible selves to describe these cultural prescriptions for leadership identity and behaviour that many junior women found unattainable. In the two male dominated firms we studied the cultural prescriptions for a leader’s identity were associated with a traditionally masculine demeanour. We argue that second generation gender bias – cultural beliefs about gender, as well as workplace structures, practices, and patterns of interaction that inadvertently favour men – inhibited women from engaging in image and identity work that would align them with these cultural prescriptions. This transformed organizational models of success into impossible selves for the women in these demographically skewed contexts. Instead of working towards the organizational model of success we found that women engaged in image and identity work to craft a leader identity that allowed them to feel authentic and avoid disapproval from clients and colleagues. Women’s efforts to remain authentic, however, undermined their ability to craft identities that were congruent with the kind of professional they aspired to become.

Media coverage:



2014 – Me, a woman and a leader: Positive social identity and identity conflict
Published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
By Natalia Karelaia & Laura Guillén

This paper focuses on women leaders’ self-views as women and leaders and explores consequences of positive social identity (i.e., positive evaluation of the social category in question) for women in leadership positions. We hypothesized that holding positive gender and leader identities reduced perceived conflict between women’s gender and leader identities and thereby resulted in favourable psychological and motivational consequences. Studies 1 and 2 revealed that positive gender identity indeed reduced women leaders’ identity conflict. In Study 3, we found that by lessening identity conflict, positive gender identity reduced stress, increased life satisfaction, and caused women to construe leading more as an attractive goal than a duty. In contrast, positive leader identity directly affected women’s motivation to lead, but did not reduce their identity conflict. Overall, these results emphasize the protective role of women’s positive gender identity for their advancement in organizations and leader identity development.

Media coverage:


Highlights from Women Researchers at INSEAD


Through a qualitative study of 50 dual-career couples, we examine how partners in such couples shape the development of each other’s professional identities and how they experience and interpret the relationship between those identities. We found that the extent to which and how partners shaped each other’s professional identities depended on the couple’s attachment structure, that is, whether one partner—or both—experienced the other as a secure base. Someone comes to regard another person as a secure base when he or she experiences the other as both dependably supportive and encouraging of his or her exploratory behavior. Couples who had a unidirectional secure-base structure experienced conflict between the development of their professional identities. The partner who received a secure base pursued ongoing professional identity development, while the partner who provided a secure base foreclosed it. Couples who had a bidirectional secure-base structure experienced mutual enhancement of their professional identity development. Both partners engaged in it and expanded their professional identity by incorporating attributes of their partner’s. Building on these findings, we develop a model of professional identity co-construction in secure-base relationships that breaks new theoretical ground by exploring interpersonal identity relationships and highlighting their roots in the secure-base structure of a dyadic relationship.

In the wake of college-for-all policy, college aspirations among working-class and middle-class young adults have converged, yet class gaps in enrollment and completion persist. Building on previous literature that uncovers the structural barriers that block working-class mobility, we examine the specific narrative content that working-class and middle-class young adults and their parents attach to the broad “college for all” message. We investigate how their narratives of imagined futures shape how they perceive the riskiness of college decisions. In-depth interviews with 51 young adult-parent dyads suggest that working-class young adults envision college as a route to moral worth and an escape from their current grim reality—what we term “salvation.” Their narratives lend self-efficacy and optimism to their lives, but are not organized in ways that protect them from the increasingly risky college landscape. Middle-class parents assume control over the meanings of college and deploy a narrative of insecurity about downward mobility in a competitive economy. By contesting the meaning of college as a vehicle for self-realization, this narrative buffers youth from risk even as it constrains feelings of self-determination in the transition to adulthood.


2018 – Advice giving: A subtle pathway to power
Published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
By Michael Shaerer, Leigh Tost, Li Huang, Francesca Gino, & Rick Larrick

We propose that interpersonal behaviors can activate feelings of power, and we examine this idea in the context of advice giving. Specifically, we show (a) that advice giving is an interpersonal behavior that enhances individuals’ sense of power and (b) that those who seek power are motivated to engage in advice giving. Four studies, including two experiments (N = 290, N = 188), an organization-based field study (N = 94), and a negotiation simulation (N = 124), demonstrate that giving advice enhances the adviser’s sense of power because it gives the adviser perceived influence over others’ actions. Two of our studies further demonstrate that people with a high tendency to seek power are more likely to give advice than those with a low tendency. This research establishes advice giving as a subtle route to a sense of power, shows that the desire to feel powerful motivates advice giving, and highlights the dynamic interplay between power and advice.


2018 – Single-dose testosterone administration increases men's preference for status goods
Published in Nature Communications
By Gideon Nave, Amos Nadler, David Dubois, David Zava, Colin Camerer, & Hilke Plassmann

In modern human cultures where social hierarchies are ubiquitous, people typically signal their hierarchical position through consumption of positional goods—goods that convey one’s social position, such as luxury products. Building on animal research and early correlational human studies linking the sex steroid hormone testosterone with hierarchical social interactions, we investigate the influence of testosterone on men’s preferences for positional goods. Using a placebo-controlled experiment (N = 243) to measure individuals’ desire for status brands and products, we find that administering testosterone increases men’s preference for status brands, compared to brands of similar perceived quality but lower perceived status. Furthermore, testosterone increases positive attitudes toward positional goods when they are described as status-enhancing, but not when they are described as power-enhancing or high in quality. Our results provide novel causal evidence for the biological roots of men’s preferences for status, bridging decades of animal behavioral studies with contemporary consumer research.


2018 – Middle ground approach to paradox: Within- and between-culture examination of the creative benefits of paradoxical frames
Published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
By Angela Leung, Shyhnan Liou, Ella Miron-Spektor, Brandon Koh, David Chan, Roni Eisenberg, & Iris Schneider

Thriving in increasingly complex and ambiguous environments requires creativity and the capability to reconcile conflicting demands. Recent evidence with Western samples has suggested that paradoxical frames, or mental templates that encourage individuals to recognize and embrace contradictions, could produce creative benefits. We extended the timely, but understudied, topic by studying the nuances of for whom and why creative advantages of paradoxical frames emerge. We suggest that people endorsing a middle ground approach are less likely to scrutinize conflict and reconcile with integrative solutions, thus receiving less creative benefits of paradoxical frames. Five studies that examined individual and cultural differences in middle ground endorsement support our theory. Study 1 found that paradoxical frames increased creativity, but failed to replicate that experienced conflict mediated the relationship in a Taiwanese sample. In both within- and between-culture analysis, we showed that the creative advantages of thinking paradoxically and experiencing conflict emerged among individuals who endorse lower (vs. higher) levels of middle ground (Study 2) and among Israelis whose culture predominantly endorses middle ground strategy less, but not among Singaporeans whose culture predominantly endorses middle ground more (Study 3). Study 4 further demonstrated the causal role of middle ground in the paradox—conflict—creativity link. To answer “why,” Study 5 situationally induced integrative complex thinking that sets distinctions and forms syntheses among contradictory elements, and found that low endorsers of middle ground performed more creatively when they engaged integrative complex thinking to cope with paradoxes. This program of studies offers important insights on harnessing paradoxical experiences to catalyze creativity.


2017 – Public-private collaboration, hybridity and social value: Towards new theoretical perspectives
Published in Journal of Management Studies
By Bertrand Quélin, Ilze Kivleniece, & Sergio Lazzarini

Focusing on the collaboration intersecting public, non‐profit and private spheres of economic activity, we analyse the conceptual forms of hybridity embedded in these novel inter‐organizational arrangements, and link them to different mechanisms of creating social value. We first disentangle alternative notions of hybrid arrangements in existing literature by proposing a conceptual typology on two theoretically complementary yet distinct dimensions: hybridity in governance and hybridity in organizational logics. We show how both forms of hybridity can jointly occur in complex public‐private and cross‐sector collaborations, and propose the notion of value as a crucial bridging point between these perspectives. Crucially, we develop a conceptual framework on key theoretical mechanisms leading to economic and social value in these inter‐organizational collaborations. Our work deepens the understanding of how diverse, hybrid forms of collaboration can create value and builds critical links between previously disparate streams of literature on public‐private interaction, cross‐sector collaboration and social enterprises.


2017 – School holidays and stock market seasonality
Published in Financial Management
By Lily Fang, Chunmei Lin, & Yuping Shao

Using school holiday data from 47 countries, we find a strong link between school holidays and market returns. Stock market returns in the month after major school holidays are 0.6% to 1% lower than in other months. This explains, but is not limited to, the “September effect.” In the United States, September is the only month that exhibits a negative average return over the past century. The postschool holiday effect remains even with monthly fixed effects. We explore the explanation that the effect is due to investor inattention during school holidays, which slows the incorporation of (negative) information in security prices.


2017 – In the eye of the beholder: Global analysts’ coverage of family firms in an emerging market
Published in Organization Science
By Xiaowei Rose Luo, Young-Chul Jeong, & Chi-Nien Chung

How do analysts make decisions about which firms to cover? Previous research has not considered how such decisions can be influenced by cultural understandings about appropriate forms of corporate governance. Drawing upon the institutional logics perspective, we propose that analyst firms’ home-country institutional logics of corporate governance can shape analyst perception of coverage risks for family firms. Specifically, we argue that given the negative view towards family governance in shareholder-based logic, family firms are less likely to be covered by analyst firms from shareholder-based countries than by those from stakeholder-based countries. Furthermore, the coverage divergence between shareholder- and stakeholder-based analyst firms will be greater for family firms featuring higher risks of value assessment and expropriation. We test our framework in the context of global analysts’ coverage of publicly listed firms in Taiwan between 1996 and 2005 and find empirical support. Our study contributes to the institutional logics perspective by establishing the implications of corporate governance logics for analyst coverage and providing a boundary condition for agency theory. We also uncover a less-noted source of institutional variation among the analyst community. 

Media coverage:


This paper presents a novel theoretical framework of how members of multicultural teams leverage their diverse knowledge to produce creative outcomes. I develop and test a model of cultural brokerage, which I define as the act of facilitating interactions between actors across cultural boundaries. I find that team members with multicultural backgrounds engage in cultural brokerage on behalf of monocultural team members. Among multiculturals, “cultural insiders” (those whose cultural background overlaps with other team members’) brokered by integrating knowledge from different cultures, whereas “cultural outsiders” (those whose cultural background has no overlap with any other team members’) brokered by eliciting knowledge from different cultures. Both integrating and eliciting significantly enhanced creative performance at the team level. These findings advance our understanding of the process of creativity in culturally diverse teams.

Media coverage:



2017 – Fast tracks and inner journeys: Crafting portable selves for contemporary careers
Published in Administrative Science Quarterly
By Gianpiero Petriglieri, Jennifer L. Petriglieri & Jack D. Wood

Through a longitudinal, qualitative study of 55 managers engaged in mobile careers across organizations, industries, and countries, and pursuing a one-year international master of business administration (MBA), we build a process model of the crafting of portable selves in temporary identity workspaces. Our findings reveal that contemporary careers in general, and temporary membership in an institution, fuel people’s efforts to craft portable selves: selves endowed with definitions, motives, and abilities that can be deployed across roles and organizations over time. Two pathways for crafting a portable self – one adaptive, the other exploratory – emerged from the interaction of individuals’ aims and concerns with institutional resources and demands. Each pathway involved developing a coherent understanding of the self in relation to others and to the institution that anchored participants to their current organization while preparing them for future ones. The study shows how institutions that host members temporarily can help to craft selves that afford a sense of agentic direction and enduring connection, tempering anxieties and bolstering hopes associated with mobile working lives. It also suggests that institutions serving as identity workspaces for portable selves may remain attractive and extend their cultural influence in an age of workforce mobility.

Media coverage:



2017 – How context alters value: The brain’s valuation and affective regulation system link price cues to experiences taste pleasantness
Published in Scientific Reports
By Liane Schmidt, Vasilisa Skvortsova, Claus Kullen, Bernd Weber & Hilke Plassmann

Informational cues such as the price of a wine can trigger expectations about its taste quality and thereby modulate the sensory experience on a reported and neural level. Yet it is unclear how the brain translates such expectations into sensory pleasantness. We used a whole-brain multilevel mediation approach with healthy participants who tasted identical wines cued with different prices while their brains were scanned using fMRI. We found that the brain’s valuation system (BVS) in concert with the anterior prefrontal cortex played a key role in implementing the effect of price cues on taste pleasantness ratings. The sensitivity of the BVS to monetary rewards outside the taste domain moderated the strength of these effects. These findings provide novel evidence for the fundamental role that neural pathways linked to motivation and affective regulation play for the effect of informational cues on sensory experiences.

Media coverage:


2017 – Managerial networks and exploration in a professional service firm
Published in Organization Studies
By Michelle Rogan & Marie L. Mors

A firm’s growth and survival depends on the ability of its managers to explore for new business and knowledge; yet, exploration is challenging for most large, established firms. Extending prior research into networks and exploration, we propose that a key characteristic of managers’ external networks – the extent to which their networks include relationships built using predominately individual rather than firm resources – is positively related to managers’ abilities to explore for new business and knowledge in large firms. We propose that networks with more individual ties provide more diverse knowledge, enable greater autonomy and ease access to resources from contacts, hence facilitating exploration. Analysis of an original dataset of external networks of 77 senior managers in a large global consulting firm provides support for our arguments. We find that individual ties are positively related to exploration and, furthermore, that the positive (negative) relationship between sparse (dense) networks and exploration increases with the number of individual ties in managers’ networks.

Media coverage:


Many countries regulate the quality of food and drugs, yet it remains unclear whether markets can be relied upon to deliver high quality in the absence of regulation, notably where companies can advertise the superior quality of their products. We present evidence from two field experiments in China’s infant formula industry, which has seen a trust crisis after several safety scandals. We show that the disclosure of information about product quality have a non-positive or even significantly negative impact on consumers’ purchase decisions and self-reported trust in the industry, as information reminds consumers of past scandals and draws their attention to potential safety risks.

Media coverage:



2017 – Too much of a good thing? The dual effect of public sponsorship on organizational performance
Published in Academy of Management Journal
By Julien Jourdan & Ilze Kivleniece

Existing research provides contradictory insights regarding the effect of public sponsorship on the market performance of organizations. We develop the nascent theory on sponsorship by highlighting the dual and contingent nature of the relationship between public sponsorship and market performance. By arguing that sponsorship differentially affects resource accumulation and allocation mechanisms, we suggest two opposing firm-level effects, leading to an inverted U-shaped relationship between the amount of public sponsorship received and the market performance of sponsored organizations. This nonlinear relationship, we argue, is moderated by the breadth, depth, and focus of the focal organization’s resource accumulation and allocation patterns. While horizontal scope (i.e., increased breadth) and an externally oriented resource profile (i.e., reduced depth) strengthen the relationship, market orientation (i.e., increased focus) attenuates it. We test and find strong support for our hypotheses using population data on French film production firms from 1998 to 2008. Our work highlights the performance trade-offs associated with public sponsorship, and carries important managerial and policy implications.

Media coverage:



2016 – Betwixt and between identities: Liminal experience in contemporary careers
Published in Research in Organizational Behavior
By Herminia Ibarra & Otilia Obodaru

Liminality, defined as a state of being betwixt and between social roles and/or identities, is the hallmark of an increasingly precarious and fluctuating career landscape. The generative potential of the liminality construct, however, has been restricted by six key assumptions stemming from the highly institutionalized nature of the rites of passage originally studied. As originally construed, liminality (1) implied both an objective state and the subjective experience of feeling betwixt and between, and was (2) temporary, (3) obligatory, (4) guided by elders and/or supported by a community of fellow liminars, (5) rooted in culturally legitimate narratives, (6) and led to a progressive outcome, i.e., the next logical step in a role hierarchy. By recasting these assumptions as variables, we improve the construct’s clarity, precision, and applicability to contemporary liminal experiences that are increasingly under-institutionalized. We illustrate the utility of our updated conceptualization by arguing that under-institutionalized liminality is both more difficult to endure and more fertile for identity growth than the highly institutionalized experiences that gave rise to the original notion. Drawing from adult development theory, we further propose that for under-institutionalized experiences to foster identity growth, the identity processes involved need to be more akin to identity play than identity work. We discuss the theoretical implications of our ideas for research on liminality, identity, and careers.


2016 – Managing perceptions of distress at work: Reframing emotion as passion
Published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
By Elizabeth Baily Wolf, Jooa Julia Lee, Sunita Sah, & Alison Wood Brooks

Expressing distress at work can have negative consequences for employees: observers perceive employees who express distress as less competent than employees who do not. Across five experiments, we explore how reframing a socially inappropriate emotional expression (distress) by publicly attributing it to an appropriate source (passion) can shape perceptions of, and decisions about, the person who expressed emotion. In Studies 1a-c, participants viewed individuals who reframed distress as passion as more competent than those who attributed distress to emotionality or made no attribution. In Studies 2a-b, reframing emotion as passion shifted interpersonal decision-making: participants were more likely to hire job candidates and choose collaborators who reframed their distress as passion compared to those who did not. Expresser gender did not moderate these effects. Results suggest that in cases when distress expressions cannot or should not be suppressed, reframing distress as passion can improve observers’ impressions of the expresser.


2016 – Whose call to answer: Institutional complexity and firms' CSR reporting
Published in Academy of Management Journal
By Xiaowei Rose Luo, Danqing Wang, & Jianjun Zhang

While research on the disclosure of CSR (corporate social responsibility) recognizes the influence of government regulations and guidelines, less attention has been given to the co-existence of conflicting pressures from the state. We develop a framework wherein CSR reporting is viewed as an organizational response to institutional complexity that arises from the conflicting demands from the central government and local governments, and apply it to publicly listed firms in China after the central government agencies issued guidelines on CSR reporting. Some provincial governments’ high priority given to short-term GDP growth created tension with the central government’s expectations on CSR reporting. Firms with attributes that increase scrutiny from both institutional constituencies experienced heightened tension, and they responded with early adoption but low-quality reports. Our framework was supported through a longitudinal analysis between 2008 and 2011. Our study contributes to the literature on CSR disclosure by uncovering the impact of conflicting government pressures, and advances research on institutional complexity by identifying a specific decoupling response.

This paper studies the effects of anti-takeover provisions on takeovers and identifies the channels through which they create or destroy value for firms, as well as for the economy as a whole. We provide causal estimates – that also deal with the endogenous selection of targets – showing that voting to remove an anti-takeover provision increases the takeover probability by 4.5% and garners a 2.8% higher premium, which results from increased competition for less protected targets. We also find evidence of net value creation in the economy stemming from more related acquisitions and targets being matched to more valuable acquirers.

Media coverage:


Domestic and international current events have highlighted a need for improved recognition of racial, ethnic, and religious discrimination by dominant groups, such as American Whites. Building upon Adams, Tormala, & O’Brien’s (2006) demonstration that self-affirmation increases White American’s recognition of discrimination against minorities, we compared the efficacy of self-affirmation, best-self reflection, and mindfulness meditation in increasing White Americans’ recognition of prejudice in everyday events and outcomes. We further investigated potential processes of eudaimonic wellbeing and temporal focus. Results of a study involving 359 White American adults include indirect effects of both self-affirmation and best-self reflection on increased recognition of prejudice against American minorities only through eudaimonic well-being. A brief mindfulness meditation did not facilitate recognition of prejudice against American minorities, through eudaimonic well-being or through focus on the present moment. Implications for intergroup relations and interventions to bolster resiliency against identity threats are discussed.

Media coverage:


When do firms shut down practices? Prior research has shown that firms learn from the actions of other firms, both adopting and abandoning practices when their peers do. But unlike adoption decisions, abandonment decisions need to account for firms’ own experiences with the practice. We study the abandonment of corporate venture capital (CVC) practices in the U.S. IT industry, which has experienced waves of adoption and abandonment. We find that firms that make more CVC investments are less likely to abandon the practice, and are less likely to learn vicariously from other firms’ abandonment decisions, such that they are less likely to exit CVC when other firms do. Staffing choices also matter: hiring former venture capitalists makes firms less likely to abandon CVC practices, while hiring internally makes abandonment more likely. Plus, staffing choices affect how firms learn from the environment, as CVC managers pay attention to and learn more from the actions of firms that match their work backgrounds; i.e., firms that staff CVC units with former venture capitalists are more likely to follow exit decisions of VC firms, while those that staff with internal hires are more likely to follow their industry peers. Our results suggest that firms wanting to retain CVC practices should think carefully about the implementation choices they make, as they may be inadvertently sowing seeds of abandonment.

Media coverage:


2015 – The highest form of intelligence: Sarcasm increases creativity for both expressers and recipients
Published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
By Li Huang, Francesca Gino & Adam D. Galinsky

Sarcasm is ubiquitous in organizations. Despite its prevalence, we know surprisingly little about the cognitive experiences of sarcastic expressers and recipients or their behavioural implications. The current research proposes and tests a novel theoretical model in which both the construction and interpretation of sarcasm lead to greater creativity because they activate abstract thinking. Studies 1 and 2 found that both sarcasm expressers and recipients reported more conflict but also demonstrated enhanced creativity following a simulated sarcastic conversation or after recalling a sarcastic exchange. Study 3 demonstrated that sarcasm’s effect on creativity for both parties was mediated by abstract thinking and generalizes across different forms of sarcasm. Finally, Study 4 found that when participants expressed sarcasm toward or received sarcasm from a trusted other, creativity increased but conflict did not. We discuss sarcasm as a double-edged sword: despite its role in instigating conflict, it can also be a catalyst for creativity.

Media coverage:


2014 – Standing out as a signal to selfishness: Culture and devaluation of non-normative characteristics
Published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
By Zoe Kinias, Heejung S. Kim, Andrew C. Hafenbrack & Jina J. Lee

This article proposes and tests a theoretical model articulating when and why differences in devaluation and avoidance of individuals with non-normative characteristics emerge between East Asian and Western cultural contexts. Four main studies examined this theoretical model. In a pilot study, relative to Americans, Koreans devalued a target individual with a non-normative characteristic, and in Study 1 the target’s efforts to forestall disruption of group processes eliminated the devaluation in Korea, with perceived selfishness mediating this process. In Study 2, Koreans, relative to Americans, devalued and avoided co-workers with non-normative characteristics, particularly when the non-normative characteristic was controllable. Study 3 further showed that perceived selfishness mediates this effect with a behavioural dependent variable. Study 4 tested the generalizability to positively valenced characteristics and found that Koreans (relative to Americans) also devalue individuals with positive characteristics at non-normative levels. Implications for individuals with non-normative characteristics, organizational diversity, and cross-cultural interaction are discussed.

Media coverage:


2014 – Debiasing the mind through meditation: Mindfulness and the sunk-cost bias
Published in Psychological Science
By Andrew C. Hafenbrack, Zoe Kinias & Sigal G. Barsade

In the research reported here, we investigated the debiasing effect of mindfulness meditation on the sunk-cost bias. We conducted four studies (one correlational and three experimental); the results suggest that increased mindfulness reduces the tendency to allow unrecoverable prior costs to influence current decisions. Study 1 served as an initial correlational demonstration of the positive relationship between trait mindfulness and resistance to the sunk-cost bias. Studies 2a and 2b were laboratory experiments examining the effect of a mindfulness-meditation induction on increased resistance to the sunk-cost bias. In Study 3, we examined the mediating mechanisms of temporal focus and negative affect, and we found that the sunk-cost bias was attenuated by drawing one’s temporal focus away from the future and past and by reducing state negative affect, both of which were accomplished through mindfulness meditation.

Media coverage:



If you have any questions related to the INSEAD Gender Initiative, we are here to help you.

. Contact us

Insead Personalised Experience




Save & Manage



It is easy, simply log in:

Via Social

  • icons
  • icons
  • icons


Use your email address