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).

Trust in Leadership Across Organizational Levels: Implications for Individuals, Teams, and Organizations

Management & Human Resources

Speaker: Ashley Fulmer
Tippie College of Business, University of Iowa

9 October 2017 - T020 - From 10:45 am to 12:15 pm

Trust is credited as a key to success in a wide range of micro and macro arenas, from employee performance and team collaboration to leadership effectiveness and organizational competitiveness. Little research, however, has examined trust across these arenas. In this presentation, I will focus on trust in leadership and discuss empirical evidence to bridge some of these gaps as identified by my analyses, answering questions such as how to foster trust in organizational leaders from the interactions between employees and their supervisors and what leaders can do to build trust that is shared among team members. I will also outline avenues for future studies that will continue the integration of trust across the individual, team, and organization levels. Together, this research program has implications for a more realistic, nuanced, and complex understanding of the critical phenomenon of trust in organizations.

Holding myself together: Identity defense work in discontinuous mobility

Management & Human Resources

Speaker: Sarah WITTMAN
INSEAD, France

5 October 2017 - Bernard Ramanantsoa room - From 11:15 am to 12:45 pm

Voluntary leaves of absence from the workforce—instances of so-called discontinuous mobility or nonemployment—and the nonlinear career trajectories they engender are increasingly common. Yet although we have studied the structural and socioeconomic challenges that impede workforce reentry, we lack an understanding of the noneconomic push factors, like identity, that might motivate reengagement. Via a longitudinal study of professionals-cum-trailing spouses, individuals who left work to support their significant others’ career advancement, this paper examines identity defense work: tactics aimed at sustaining and fortifying established identities during professional uncertainty. Using an inductive qualitative approach, I find that during career discontinuity, identity defense work may include giving oneself permission to be non-normative; hanging onto one’s professional self by reinforcing professional self-conceptions; and distancing oneself from feared possible nonprofessional selves. Helping people sustain identities through liminal periods and, thus, motivating workplace reentry, identity defense work liberates them to explore new things; adjust their work-related self-concepts; and/or reaffirm the personal importance of work. These findings contribute to our knowledge on discontinuous mobility, the identity work that permits people to resist undesired changes to their professional selves during periods of uncertainty, and people’s efforts to balance their relationships and careers over their life course.

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.


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