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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



2021 – Gender Differences in Job Search: Trading off Commute against Wage
Published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics
By Thomas Le Barbanchon, Roland Rathelot, & Alexandra Roulet

The authors relate gender differences in willingness to commute to the gender wage gap. Using French administrative data on job search criteria, the authors first document that unemployed women have a lower reservation wage and a shorter maximum acceptable commute than their male counterparts. The authors then identify indifference curves between wage and commute using the joint distributions of reservation job attributes and of accepted job bundles. Indifference curves are steeper for women, who value commute around 20% more than men. Controlling in particular for the previous job, newly hired women are paid after unemployment 4% less per hour and have a 12% shorter commute than men. Through the lens of a job search model where commuting matters, the authors estimate that gender differences in commute valuation can account for a 0.5 log point hourly wage deficit for women, i.e., 14 percent of the residualized gender wage gap. Finally, the authors use job application data to test the robustness of their results and to show that female workers do not receive less demand from far-away employers, confirming that most of the gender gap in commute is supply-side driven.


2020 – Anger and Anxiety in Masculine Stereotypic and Male-dominated (MSMD) Negotiating Contexts: Affect and the Study of Gender in Negotiation
Published in the Research Handbook on Gender and Negotiation
By Chiara Trombini, Logan A. Berg, & Hannah Riley Bowles

In this chapter, we explore ways in which affective experience and expression might moderate effects of gender on negotiation, particularly in masculine-stereotypic and male-dominated (MSMD) contexts. We argue that, in MSMD contexts (as compared to more gender-equitable situations), men are likely to have a more chronic experience of power than women and that such gender differences in actual, perceived and felt power are likely to reinforce gender stereotypes favoring men in negotiation. We articulate a set of propositions about the potential effects of anger and anxiety – two power-linked affective states – on gender in negotiations in MSMD contexts. We consider implications for negotiators’ social and economic outcomes. In conclusion, we suggest practical considerations for managers in MSMD work environments.

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 commonly 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 market suggests that the ex post settling-up process may also incorporate a resource-provisioning role for directors as conferrers of legitimacy. We analyze how growing socioeconomic pressures 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 rich proprietary data set 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 the 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 duality of minority status as it relates to discriminatory outcomes in modern labor markets.

2019 – Stereotype Threat and Women's Work Satisfaction: The Importance of Role Models
Published in Archives of Scientific Psychology -- Special Section: Advancing Gender Equality in the workplace
By Clarissa Cortland & Zoe Kinias

Globally across OECD countries, increasingly more women than men are graduating from a higher education institution with at least a bachelor’s degree (OECD, 2017), yet women continue to be highly underrepresented in top leadership positions around the world. What can explain the stark workplace and economic gender inequity despite the growing pool of educated women? One key contributor to gender inequity in the workplace is the psychological experience of women, and decades of research have found that concerns about confirming negative gender stereotypes in professional contexts can hinder women’s motivation, performance, and engagement, all of which can ultimately contribute to the exacerbation of workplace gender inequity. This research explores whether and in what way(s) social support from different workplace sources (role models, formal and informal mentors/sponsors, supportive supervisors, and peer support) benefit and protect women’s psychological resilience to disrupt the negative cycle of gender inequity.

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We examine investor responses to board diversity and highlight a previously unexplored mechanism to explain negative market reactions to senior female appointments. Drawing on signaling theory, we propose that an increase in board diversity leads investors to update their beliefs about firm preferences. Specifically, we argue that a gender-diverse board is interpreted as revealing a preference for diversity and a weaker commitment to shareholder value. Consequently, firms with more female directors will be penalized. We test our argument using 14 years of panel data on U.S. public firms. We find that firms that increase board diversity suffer a decrease in market value and that this effect is amplified for firms that have received higher ratings for their diversity practices across the organization. These results suggest that observers respond to the presence of female leaders not simply on their own merit but as broader cues of firm preferences and that firms may counteract any potential signaling effect through careful framing.

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Highlights from Women Researchers at INSEAD


Members of global teams are often dispersed across time zones. This paper introduces the construct of temporal brokerage, which we define as being in a position within a team’s temporal structure that bridges subgroups that have little or no temporal overlap with each other. Although temporal brokerage is not a formal role, we argue that occupying such a position makes an individual more likely to take on more coordination work than other members on the team. We suggest that, while engaging in such coordination work has advantages in the form of enhanced integrative complexity, it also comes with costs in the form of a greater workload relative to other members. We further argue that the increased integrative complexity and workload that result from occupying a position of temporal brokerage have implications that go beyond the boundaries of the focal team, spilling over into other projects the individual is engaged in. Specifically, we predict that being in positions of temporal brokerage on global teams decreases the quantity but increases the quality of an individual’s total productive output. We find support for these predictions across two studies comprising 4,553 individuals participating in global student project teams and 123,586 individuals participating in global academic research teams, respectively. The framework and findings presented in this paper contribute to theories of global teamwork, pivotal roles and leadership emergence in global teams, and social network theory.

This article reviews the history, foundations, development, and position of systems psychodynamic scholarship in organization studies. Systems psychodynamic scholarship focuses on the interaction between collective structures, norms, and practices in social systems and the cognitions, motivations, and emotions of members of those systems. It is most useful to investigate the unconscious forces that underpin the persistence of dysfunctional organizational features and the appeal of irrational leaders. It is also well equipped to challenge arrangements that stifle individual and organizational development. The article documents the tension, in this body of work, between an “outside-in” perspective, focused on institutions’ influence on individuals, and an “inside-out” perspective, focused on leaders’ influence on institutions. It also interrogates the marginalization of systems psychodynamic scholarship, positing that its marginality is both a social defense for organization studies as a whole and a generative feature of the systems psychodynamics approach. Granting it a position of functional, rather than oppressed, marginality, the article concludes, will enrich research about the experience, management, and organization of contemporary work.


2020 – Consumer Neuroscience: Past, Present, and Future
Published in Organizational Research Methods
By Uma R. Karmarkar & Hilke Plassmann

In this article, we give an overview of the growing field of consumer neuroscience and discuss when and how it is useful to integrate neurophysiological data into research conducted in business fields. We first discuss the foundational elements of consumer neuroscience and showcase a range of studies that highlight the ways that neuroscientific research and theory can add to existing lines of research in marketing. Next, we discuss the new domains and questions that brain data allow us to address, such as an emerging ability to predict market-level behavior in a range of decision types. We conclude by providing insights about the emerging frontiers in the field that we think will have an important impact on our understanding of marketing behavior, as well as organizational behavior.

This study advances and tests the notion that the phenomenon of guilt by association, whereby innocent organizations are penalized due to their similarity to offending organizations, is shaped by two distinct forms of generalization. We analyze how and why evaluators’ interpretative process following instances of corporate misconduct will likely include not only inductive generalization (rooted in similarity judgements and prototype-based categorization) but also deductive generalizing (rooted in evaluators’ theories and causal-based categorization). We highlight the role and relevance of this neglected distinction by extending guilt-by-association predictions to include two unique predictions based on deductive generalization. First, we posit a recipient effect: if an innocent organization falls under a negative stereotype that causally links the innocent firm with corporate misconduct, then that innocent firm will suffer a greater negative spillover effect, irrespective of its similarity to the offending firm. Second, we also posit a transmission effect: if the offending firm falls under the same negative stereotype, then the negative spillover effect to other similar firms will be lessened. We also analyze how media discourse can foster negative stereotypes, and thus amplify the two effects noted above. We find support for our hypotheses in an analysis of financial market reactions to corporate misconduct for all U.S. and international firms using reverse mergers (RMs) to gain publicly traded status in the U.S. We discuss the implications of our theoretical perspective and empirical findings for research on corporate misconduct, guilt by association, and stock market prejudice.


2020 – Entrepreneurial Team Formation
Published in Academy of Management Annals
By Moran Lazar, Ella Miron-Spektor, Rajshree Agarwal, Miriam Erez, Brent Goldfarb, & Gilad Chen

Entrepreneurial team formation—the process through which founders establish a team to start a new venture—has important implications for team performance and entrepreneurial success. Although research on entrepreneurial team formation is gradually growing, it is at a critical juncture and marked by considerable fragmentation. In part, this is because scholars have examined entrepreneurial team formation through different disciplinary lenses and within very different contexts. Our structured content analysis situates the literature based on questions addressed for new venture team formation, such as why, how, when, and where entrepreneurial teams are formed. The resulting integrative framework delineates the dynamic nature of the formation process, the origins of new venture teams, primary formation strategies used to initiate cofounding relations, and their effects on team characteristics, processes, and performance. Two key insights emerge to guide future research. One, the need for integration, especially across disciplines and contexts, acknowledging the role of the latter in shaping the formation process. Two, the need to embrace (self-) selection and endogeneity of founding characteristics, processes, and performance outcomes to the antecedent formation stage. We conclude that entrepreneurial team formation research is a fertile ground that has met merely a fraction of its potential to advance important knowledge in the field.


2020 – Organizational Costs of Compensating for Mind-Body Dissonance Through Conspiracies and Superstitions
Published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
By Li Huang & Jennifer Whitson

Maintaining physical expressions that contradict one’s internal states creates stress and burnout. Surprisingly, little is known about whether such incongruence affects organizationally relevant cognitive consequences. We propose that mind-body dissonance (MBD), a control-diminishing experience wherein the mind and body undergo contradictory states, increases compensatory illusory pattern perception (IPP) and jeopardizes decisions and trusting behavior. Experiments 1 and 2 found that being induced to display bodily expressions that contradict one’s emotions in a mental-physical coordination or customer service context, increased IPP in the form of conspiratorial and superstitious thinking. Experiment 3 found that MBD reduced trusting behavior through feelings of lacking control and conspiratorial thinking in serial. Finally, examining the mechanism through a moderation design, Experiment 4 found that misattributing feelings of lacking control to an external stimulus eliminated MBD’s effect on a superstition-related managerial decision. We discuss the value of this motivational approach in understanding MBD’s organizational implications.

Advances in technology, particularly smartphones, have unlocked new opportunities for consumers to generate content about experiences while they unfold (e.g., by texting, posting to social media, writing notes), and this behavior has become nearly ubiquitous. The present research examines the effects of generating content during ongoing experiences. Across nine studies, the authors show that generating content during an experience increases feelings of immersion and makes time feel like it is passing more quickly, which in turn enhances enjoyment of the experience. The authors investigate these effects across a broad array of experiences both inside and outside the lab that vary in duration from a few minutes to several hours, including positive and negative videos and real-life holiday celebrations. They conclude with several studies testing marketing interventions that increase content creation and find that consumers who are incentivized or motivated by social norms to generate content reap the same experiential benefits as those who create content organically. These findings illustrate how leveraging content creation to improve experiences can mutually benefit marketers and consumers.



2019 – Safe or profitable? The pursuit of conflicting goals
Published in Organization Science
By Vibha Gaba & Henrich Greve

In this study, we examine how multiple and sometimes conflicting goals are prioritized and pursued in organizations. Theories of coalitions and political behavior address prioritization among goals and changes in goal emphasis over time but cannot accurately predict the behavior of organizations that pursue conflicting goals. By linking theories of performance feedback theory and variable risk preferences, we show that performance shortfalls relative to aspirations on multiple goals can trigger managerial concerns for organizational failure. In such situations, the goal perceived as more important for survival gets priority and triggers stronger reactions. Empirically, we examine how airlines’ dual focus on safety and profitability affects decisions regarding fleet changes. In the airline industry, safety and profitability have clear conflicts (at least in the short term) owing to the costs of replacing aircraft models with poor safety records. We find evidence that airlines pursue fleet safety goals, but the nature and extent of that pursuit depend on whether the firm’s profitability goals are being met. As predicted, the responsiveness to safety goals is strengthened by low profitability because safety is associated more closely with survival. The study augments existing research on multiple goals by emphasizing the nature of goal interdependencies and its implications for behavior in organizations.


2019 – Unemployment insurance and reservation wages: Evidence from administrative data
Published in Journal of Public Economics
By Thomas Le Barbanchon, Roland Rathelot, & Alexandra Roulet

Although the reservation wage plays a central role in job search models, empirical evidence on the determinants of reservation wages, including key policy variables such as unemployment insurance (UI), is scarce. In France, unemployed people must declare their reservation wage to the Public Employment Service when they register to claim UI benefits. We take advantage of these rich French administrative data and of a reform of UI rules to estimate the effect of the Potential Benefit Duration (PBD) on reservation wages and on other dimensions of job selectivity, using a difference-in-difference strategy. We cannot reject that the elasticity of the reservation wage with respect to PBD is zero. Our results are precise and we can rule out elasticities larger than 0.006. Furthermore, we do not find any significant effects of PBD on the desired number of hours, duration of labor contract and commuting time/distance. The estimated elasticity of actual benefit duration with respect to PBD of 0.3 is in line with the consensus in the literature. Exploiting a Regression Discontinuity Design as an alternative identification strategy, we find similar results.

The state plays a major role in corporate social responsibility (CSR) in emerging and transitional economies and often influences firms through political connection, and hence knowing how firms respond to the state’s CSR initiatives can inform policy making and has important implication on the sustainability of society and environment. However, existent studies show conflicting results on politically connected firms’ CSR participation. We examine the relationship between political endorsement and firms’ engagement in different types of CSR simultaneously. Using a representative sample of more than 1,000 private firms in the early 2000s, we find that politically endorsed firms engage more in philanthropic donation, but less in environmental practices, which impose higher costs and constraints than philanthropy. This is consistent with our explanation that they attempt to maintain legitimacy and discretion through selective engagement in CSR. Our study contributes to research on CSR in transitional economies by reconciling conflicting findings about the CSR engagement of politically connected firms, provides a new lens to illuminate firms’ strategic response in CSR, and has important policy implications.


2019 – The private scope in public-private collaborations: An institutional and capability-based perspective
Published in Organization Science
By Bertrand V. Quelin, Sandro Cabral, Sergio Lazzarini, & Ilze Kivleniece

There has been a growing interest in the organization of business activities at the public interface as illustrated by the emergent phenomenon of public–private partnerships (PPPs). In this study, we analyze the determinants of private scope in partnering with public actors—that is, the extent to which private actors are involved in multiple, consecutive value-creating activities in the partnership. Based on a unique data set of public–private agreements worldwide over two decades, we find that institutional and capability-based determinants jointly affect the extent of private scope in public–private collaborations. Our results highlight the contingent role of the quality of the institutional environment. Institutions not only facilitate greater private scope directly but also, moderate the effect of public and private capabilities on private scope. We find that prior public experience in PPPs enhances private scope in settings with high-quality institutions while having an opposing effect in low-quality environments. Moreover, public governance capabilities accumulated via units designed to deal with PPPs seem to substitute for the lack of high-quality institutions, suggesting that, even under weak institutional settings, countries can foster high private scope with the creation of pockets of specialized public capabilities. In contrast, private capabilities in PPPs, expressed as firm engagement in recurring government cofunded projects, seem to have a complementary effect: they help to increase private scope in PPPs but only when domestic institutions are of high quality. By highlighting the determinants of private actor involvement in public sector activities, our study offers important implications for the theory and practice of hybrid (cross-sector) organizational forms.

Beginning with Simon (1947)—and motivated by an interest in the effect of formal organizational structure on decision making—a large body of research has examined how organizations process information. Yet, research in this area is extremely diverse and fragmented. We offer a retrospective of past research to summarize our collective knowledge, as well as identify and advance new concerns and questions. In doing so, we identify three critical issues: a division between an aggregation perspective and a constraint perspective of structure; little focus on informational sources of conflict; and uneven treatment of the various stages of decision making. We then offer a roadmap for future research that elaborates the role of organizational structure in decision making. In this endeavor, we offer an ecological perspective of information processing that addresses the issues and provides opportunities to expand research in new directions.


2019 – Mind–body dissonance: A catalyst to creativity
Published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
By Li Huang

Mind–body dissonance (MBD) is the psychological experience of one’s bodily expressions contradicting one’s mental states. Across four experiments (total N = 887), the current research proposes and demonstrates that MBD can enhance creativity by facilitating an atypicality mind-set. First, two different instantiations of MBD (i.e., assuming a high-power/low-power role while adopting a constricted/expansive posture, or recalling a happy/sad memory while frowning/smiling) increased performance on creative association, insight, and generation tasks (Experiments 1 and 2). A third study showed that an atypicality mind-set was an underlying mechanism for the creativity effect (Experiment 3). Finally, the frequency of past MBD experiences was found to reduce MBD’s creativity effect (Experiment 4). The present research offers evidence for the positive functions of bodily expressions that contradict mental states and highlights the significance of understanding the interactive effects of psychological states and their physical analogues in studying creativity.


2019 – Can one stone kill two birds: Political relationship building and partner acquisition in new ventures
Published in Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice
By Xiaowei Rose Luo, Ling Yang, & Xiaobin He

We extend the resource dependence theory to argue for the opposing effects of political relationship building on new ventures’ abilities to obtain suppliers and buyers. By signaling endorsement and better access to resources, political connection enhances new ventures’ legitimacy and bargaining position. In supply chains featuring high contractual uncertainties, suppliers favor new ventures with higher certainty of payment but buyers can be deterred by new ventures more difficult to control. Hence, paradoxically, political relationship building can exert opposing effects on a new venture’s acquisition of suppliers and buyers. We found empirical support through a survey of 337 new ventures in China.

In recent years, techniques based on convex optimization and real algebra that produce converging hierarchies of lower bounds for polynomial minimization problems have gained much popularity. At their heart, these hierarchies rely crucially on Positivstellensätze from the late 20th century (e.g., due to Stengle, Putinar, or Schmüdgen) that certify positivity of a polynomial on an arbitrary closed basic semialgebraic set. In this paper, we show that such hierarchies could in fact be designed from much more limited Positivstellensätze dating back to the early 20th century that only certify positivity of a polynomial globally. More precisely, we show that any inner approximation to the cone of positive homogeneous polynomials that is arbitrarily tight can be turned into a converging hierarchy of lower bounds for general polynomial minimization problems with compact feasible sets. This in particular leads to a semidefinite programming–based hierarchy that relies solely on Artin’s solution to Hilbert’s 17th problem. We also use a classical result from Pólya on global positivity of even forms to construct an “optimization-free” converging hierarchy for general polynomial minimization problems with compact feasible sets. This hierarchy requires only polynomial multiplication and checking nonnegativity of coefficients of certain fixed polynomials. As a corollary, we obtain new linear programming–based and second-order cone programming–based hierarchies for polynomial minimization problems that rely on the recently introduced concepts of diagonally dominant sum of squares and scaled diagonally dominant sum of squares polynomials. We remark that the scope of this paper is theoretical at this stage, as our hierarchies—though they involve at most two sum of squares constraints or only elementary arithmetic at each level—require the use of bisection and increase the number of variables (respectively, the degree) of the problem by the number of inequality constraints plus three (respectively, by a factor of two).

How do firms benefit from employees with transferable skills? The prevailing view is that labor market frictions that impede employee mobility or strategies that constrain skill transferability are the primary instruments for firms to appropriate value from human capital. The empirical evidence, however, suggests that employees continue to be mobile, and firms pay premiums to attract and retain employees with transferable skills. To reconcile theory with data, we use data from the mutual fund industry, where it is widely documented that active fund managers appropriate more value than they generate. We develop a theory of positive externalities stemming from transferable human capital that we argue accrue mostly to the firm, and provide evidence of such externalities in the mutual fund context. Empirically, we decompose the skills of mutual fund managers into task- and firm-specific components and argue that managers with task-specific skills generate positive externalities at the firm level that are not reflected in their performance measured at the fund level. We advance and test empirical hypotheses on the existence of these positive unmeasured externalities by examining whether managers with task-specific skills are more likely to be associated with activities such as mentoring, increased risk taking, and generating spillovers at the firm level. Our results show that managers with task-specific skills are indeed associated with greater positive externalities, compared with managers with firm-specific skills. We discuss the implications of our results for the literature on human capital value creation and appropriation.


2018 – Selling off-grid light to liquidity constrained consumers
Published in Manufacturing & Service Operations Management
By Bhavani Shanker Uppari, Ioana Popescu, & Serguei Netessine

Problem definition: A large proportion of the world’s population has no access to electricity and so relies on noxious kerosene for their lighting needs. Solar-based solutions require a large up-front investment and are often unaffordable in this market owing to consumers’ tight liquidity constraints. As an alternative, there are business models relying on rechargeable light bulbs that are sold at a subsidized price (which renders them affordable) and require regular micropayments for recharges (which eases liquidity constraints). These bulbs provide a cheaper and healthier light source than kerosene, yet their adoption is lower than expected, and some consumers continue to use kerosene. This paper explores the potential drivers of such preferences and proposes strategies to alter them. Academic/practical relevance: Unlike most of the existing operations management literature, which focuses on the problems in developed economies, our paper studies a problem specific to the poor population. Our novel modeling approach, which incorporates several operational features of the impoverished regions, could also serve as a template for other potential modeling attempts in similar settings. Methodology: We propose a stylized consumer behavior model that accounts for—in addition to the monetary cost incurred while using a particular light source—the inconvenience cost (resulting from repeated travel to the purchase center) and blackout cost (resulting from liquidity constraints) associated with that source to explain the consumer preference for kerosene and to recommend strategies that could mitigate that preference. Results: Although kerosene lighting is more expensive than bulbs, consumers who face either high inconvenience costs or high blackout costs prefer kerosene to bulbs because the former’s flexibility, with regard to quantity, helps reduce whichever cost is dominating. At the firm level, there is an optimal bulb capacity and recharge price pair that maximizes the firm’s revenue; furthermore, a firm can reverse the preferences for kerosene by increasing the flexibility of the bulbs (e.g., by allowing partial recharges). Although strategies—such as price discounts and mobile micropayments—which alleviate liquidity constraints are not in themselves sufficient to ensure higher adoption rates, increased bulb use becomes more likely when they are combined with inconvenience-reducing strategies. Managerial implications: Our paper sheds light on the structure of the market in which firms operate by identifying the characteristics of the market segments that prefer kerosene. It also helps the firms make better decisions by evaluating the efficacy of several strategies in terms of increasing the adoption of bulbs.


2018 – Licensing and price competition in tied-goods markets: An application to the single-serve coffee system industry
Published in Marketing Science
By Pradeep K. Chintagunta, Marco Shaojun Qin, & Maria Ana Vitorino

We develop a structural model of demand and supply for tied goods, which we estimate using aggregate data from the single-serve coffee system industry. We use the parameter estimates to quantify the impact of licensing on equilibrium prices and profits for firms in the industry. In particular, we look at the decision to allow other firms to sell components (coffee pods) that are compatible with a firm’s primary good (coffee machines) by licensing the use of its patents. We solve for the counterfactual market equilibrium in which one of the market leaders enters a licensing agreement with one of the competitor brands—with the latter brand only selling compatible coffee pods and not the machines. We show the existence of a range of royalty rates under which firms could potentially reach a beneficial licensing agreement. In addition, we find that the relationship between the licensee’s profits and the royalty rate is not always decreasing. Finally, we find that, within the set of royalty rates in which licensing benefits both brands, the licensing agreement is associated with less price dispersion in the aftermarket (coffee pods), and with lower prices of the primary good (coffee machines) relative to the nonlicensing scenario.

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 – Microfoundations of Organizational Paradox: The Problem is How we Think About the Problem
Published in Academy of Management Journal
By Ella Miron-Spektor, Amy Ingram, Joshua Keller, Wendy K. Smith, & Marianne W. Lewis

Competing tensions and demands pervade our work lives. Accumulating research examines organizational and leadership approaches to leveraging these tensions. But what about individuals within firms? Although early paradox theory built upon micro-level insights from psychology and philosophy to understand the nature and management of varied competing demands, corresponding empirical studies are rare, offering scarce insights into why some individuals thrive with tensions while others struggle. In response, we contribute to the microfoundations of organizational paradox with a theoretical model and robust measures that help unpack individuals’ varied approaches to tensions. Following rigorous scale development in Study 1, including samples from the U.S., UK, Israel, and China, we test our model in a large firm in the U.S. using quantitative and qualitative methods. We identify resource scarcity (i.e., limited time and funding) as a source of tensions. We also demonstrate that a paradox mindset—the extent to which one is accepting of and energized by tensions—can help individuals leverage them to improve in-role job performance and innovation. Our results highlight paradox mindset as a key to unlocking the potential of everyday tensions.


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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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