Workplace courage: Turning good stories into good social science

Management & Human Resources

Speaker: Jim Detert
Darden School of Business, University of Virginia, USA

12 October 2017 - Room Bernard Ramanantsoa - From 10:30 am to 12:00 pm

Courage is one of the oldest and most ubiquitous concepts in the world. It has been written about extensively in philosophy, religion, throughout the humanities and, more recently, in psychology. Despite this, our understanding of “workplace courage” remains quite limited. This is an important gap, as those who teach leadership know that students/practitioners are compelled by a lay belief that courage is linked to leader effectiveness and other important outcomes. But, whether this is true, or what we might do to help leaders develop their courage if it is true, cannot meaningfully be addressed until we answer more basic and fundamental questions about workplace courage as a social science construct. In this talk I will therefore quickly review my motivations for studying workplace courage, the limited extant literature, and then present results from several initial studies undertaken (using multiple methods and a total sample over 6,000) to begin shedding light on the construct of workplace courage and how this construct might be pursued in future research. I am particularly interested in discussing with you how we might address the “perspective problem” more directly and satisfactorily in future research on courage (and many other organizational constructs).

Trash-Talking: Competitive Incivility Motivates Rivalry, Performance, and Unethical Behavior

Management & Human Resources

Speaker: Maurice Schweitzer
The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, USA

2 June 2017 - T004 - From 10:00 am to 11:30 am

Trash-talking increases the psychological stakes of competition. Across two pilot studies and four experiments, we demonstrate that trash-talking motivates targets to outperform their opponents. Across, two pilot studies we show that (1) people readily recall instances of trash-talking in organizations and (2) people fail to forecast the motivational consequences of trash-talking. In Study 1, participants in a competition who were targets of trash-talking outperformed participants who faced the same economic incentives, but were not targets of trash talking. In Study 2, we replicate this finding and show that perceptions of rivalry mediate the relationship between trash-talking and performance. In Study 3, we find that targets of trash-talking are particularly motivated to see their opponents lose. In Study 4, we show that participants who were targets of trash talking were more likely to cheat in a competition that were participants who received a neutral message. Taken together, our findings reveal that trash talking is a common workplace behavior that can foster rivalry and motivate both constructive and unethical behavior.

Mandatory Fun: Consent, Gamification and the Impact of Games at Work

Management & Human Resources

Speaker: Nancy Rothbard
Chair, Management Department , Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

16 May 2017 - T201 - From 10:00 am to 11:30 am

In an effort to create a positive experience at work, managers have deployed a wide range of innovative initiatives and practices designed to improve the affective experience for workers. One such innovative practice is gamification, introducing elements from games into the work environment with the purpose of improving employees’ affective experiences. Games have long been played at work, but they have emerged spontaneously from the employees themselves. Here, we examine whether managerially-imposed games provide the desired benefits for affect and performance predicted by prior studies on games at work or whether they are a form of “mandatory fun.” We highlight the role of consent (Burawoy 1979) as a response to mandatory fun, which moderates these relationships and, in a field experiment, find that games, when consented to, increase positive affect at work, but, when consent is lacking, decrease positive affect. In a follow up laboratory experiment, we also find that legitimation and a sense of individual agency are important sources of consent.


Management & Human Resources

Speaker: Martin Kilduff
Professor , University College London, UK

4 May 2017 - Bernard Ramanantsoa room, building V - From 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm

Workplace friendship obligations of openness and favoritism are likely to conflict with organizational norms of discretion and neutrality. This dilemma is especially apparent for Simmelian brokers, who divide time and attention across multiple otherwise disconnected friendship cliques. In two samples, we found support for the core idea that the fit between the requirements of the network role and the personality of the individual facilitates trust. Simmelian brokers are trusted by their friends if they exhibit a role-appropriate diplomatic personality style involving flexibility of self-presentation (high self-monitoring) and inhibition of verbal loquaciousness (low blirtatiousness). Of course, not everyone engages in Simmelian brokerage. Some individuals experience a strongly cohesive situation: a single friendship clique within which they are embedded. For these non-brokers, we hypothesized and found that the most appropriate trait combination likely to maintain the trust of a group of tightly-bound colleagues involved a forthright, be-true-to-yourself, loquacious personality style (i.e., low self-monitoring, high blirtatiousness). In introducing a personality-network fit perspective concerning whether Simmelian brokers are trusted by their colleagues, we help reconcile discrepancies in prior literature concerning whether or not these brokers are paralyzed into indecision by cross pressures. Brokers who flexibly and guardedly manage individuality facilitate interconnection across cliques.


Martin Kilduff (PhD Cornell, 1988) is Professor of Organizational Behavior at the UCL School of Management and former editor of Academy of Management Review (2006-08). His research focuses on the micro-foundations and consequences of individuals' social networks, with particular emphasis on the role of personality, cognition, and emotion in these processes. His recent work investigates: the career benefits and drawbacks of working under a high-reputation boss (AMJ, 2016); the relative effects of personality and network position on career outcomes (Organization Science, 2015); and the extent to which men and women leaders are evaluated by the social network contexts in which they work (Organization Science, 2015)

Bowing Before Dual Gods: How Structured Flexibility Sustains Organizational Hybridity

Management & Human Resources

Speaker: Marya L. Besharov
Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior , Cornell University

22 March 2017 - T037 - From 10:00 am to 11:30 am

The increasing prevalence and variety of hybrid organizations challenges scholars and practitioners. How do these organizations successfully sustain seemingly incompatible missions and goals over time? Mounting research emphasizes either stable organizational features or dynamic processes. Our in-depth, 10-year study of a social enterprise in Southeast Asia highlights the critical role of both, unfolding how consistent organizational features and shifting enactment processes interact to sustain seemingly incompatible dual missions. We capture these findings in a model of structured flexibility. The model shows how ongoing processual shifts in meanings and practices create flexibility in how leaders enact dual missions. Such flexibility, however, depends on consistent, stable organizational features—in particular, dedicated structures, roles, and relationships that serve as guardrails holding leaders accountable to each mission, as well as leaders’ paradoxical cognitive frames that accommodate both contradictory and interdependent relationships between dual missions. By unpacking the interplay between stable and dynamic aspects of dual missions, our structured flexibility model offers new insight into how hybridity unfolds and is sustained over time.


Management & Human Resources Department  

Campus HEC Paris
1, rue de la Libération
78351 Jouy-en-Josas cedex

Featured Faculty  

Jin Wook CHANG

Management and Human Resources (GREGHEC)

Consult résumé