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Research | Undergraduate Research Assistant Program

Awarded Fall 2012

Us-advocacy: How women can reap financial rewards while avoiding gendered backlash in negotiations
Emily T. Amanatullah, Assistant Professor, Department of Management
Syeda-Fatima Javaid (Fatima), Undergraduate Research Assistant

The project explores the unique constraints faced by women seeking to achieve success and advancement in a masculine business world and how these constraints can be attenuated. Past research shows that women who adopt more masculine negotiation styles (using assertive, value-claiming tactics, for example) suffer negative social sanctions for violating gendered expectations.

Women who negotiate on behalf of others are not punished for negotiating assertively because these behaviors are are communal and other-directed, and seen as consistent with gendered expectations. This research explores the unique context of us-advocacy as a potential opportunity for women to successfully reap financial rewards for themselves while avoiding gender backlash by negotiating for a group to which they belong.


Outsourcing and the emergence of professional service industries: The case of advertising in the United States

Y. Sekou Bermiss, Assistant Professor, Department of Management

Mary Beth Williams, Undergraduate Research Assistant

The emergence of professional service industries often conflicts with transaction cost theories of economic organization. While professional tasks are ideal candidates for internalization--due to high measuring and monitoring costs--they are frequently outsourced, and become the impetus for the emergence of a nascent professional services industry. We look to the role of discourse on institutionalized practices. In particular, we argue that changes in discourse alter market actors' perceptions of transaction value, which redraws the boundary lines of the firms. We analyze public and private discourse about the perceptions of outsourcing advertising services from the emergence period of the modern advertising industry (1880-1920). We investigate how early advertising agents framed their arguments to get advertisers to purchase their creative services, and how this framing changed as outsourcing became a more institutionalized practice. Our research takes the insights of discourse and framing and applies them to directly to the economics of organizational structure. We emphasize the role that discourse plays in changing market actors’ perceptions of transaction value and thus their propensity to outsource internal functions.


Equity Holdings During the Financial Crisis


Clemens Sialm, Associate Professor, Department of Finance

During the recent financial crises equity valuations declined significantly. Several institutional investors (especially hedge funds) were forced to de-lever their positions and liquidate risky assets. On the other hand, household investors also became less willing to bear risk due to the higher volatility in equity markets. This research project asks which investors stepped in during the financial crisis, and acquired additional risky financial assets. Additional analyses will also investigate whether these aggregate outflows and inflows by different investor classes had an impact on asset prices.


Power and Control: Sense-Making and Decision-Making
Jennifer Whitson, Assistant Professor, Department of Management

My project explores how power and control influence the way people make sense of and act in the world, and congruently, how people’s actions change theirs and others’ senses of power and control. I examine how people use reward and punishment to enforce norms and punish malfeasance, and how cultural and environmental differences alter the patterns of enforcement. I also examine how lack of control increases the tendency to see illusory patterns (making connections between random or unconnected stimuli) across many arenas--from seeing images in static and patterns in the stock market, to making superstitious connections, to perceiving conspiracies where there are none.



What Is Design Orientation and When Does it Payoff?


Raj Srinivasan, Associate Professor, Department of Marketing

Rohit Bachal, Undergraduate Research Assistant

A few companies offer products with very superior design. Most don't. The authors propose that design orientation, which consists of design sensibility (sensing the importance of the three design elements: functionality, aesthetics, and brand meaning in products) and design infusion (the ability to achieve integration), account for differences in the design of products across companies. They develop hypotheses of 1) the effects of a firm’s design orientation, along with its market orientation and willingness to cannibalize new product performance and 2) the organizational antecedents of design orientation. The authors use data from senior marketing executives in 252 U.S. firms in the goods sector to develop and validate the design orientation construct and test the hypotheses. The findings indicate that design orientation (and market orientation) independently increases new product performance. However, market orientation weakens the positive effect of design orientation on new product performance. They appear to be strategic substitutes to achieve superior new product performance. Willingness to cannibalize and design orientation increases new product performance. This suggests they're strategic complements. Organizations can develop design orientation if their top management advocates the importance of product design and empowers designers.


Internal control quality and restatement-related litigation: The importance of timely material weakness disclosures


Jaime Schmidt, Assistant Professor, Department of Accounting

Tayseer Zaidan, Undergraduate Research Assistant

The project investigates whether the existence and timing of material internal control weakness (MW) disclosures are associated with the initiation and resolution of restatement-related litigation. Regulators express concern that companies are not disclosing all MWs, so we explore the extent litigation risk may improve MW disclosure behavior. Examining MW and restatement disclosures from 2003-2011, we find that a MW disclosure that relates to the misstated time period increases the likelihood that a company will experience restatement-related litigation relative to firms that do not disclose a MW. Among firms that do disclose a MW, litigation is more likely if the MW disclosure is untimely (i.e., after the restatement disclosure). Our findings suggest that litigation risk is lowest for firms that are able to avoid a MW disclosure altogether, but if MW disclosure is unavoidable, then timely MW disclosure is the firm’s best disclosure strategy.


Voice flows to and around leaders: Is more always better for unit performance?
Ethan Burris, Associate Professor, Department of Management
Milu Thomas, Undergraduate Research Assistant

In two studies, we develop and test theory about the relationship between voice and unit performance by accounting for where voice is flowing. Results from a qualitative study suggest that voice to targets at different formal power levels (peer or superior) and locations in the organization (inside or outside a focal unit) differs systematically in terms of its instrumentality for generating substantive action to address issues raised to a unit’s benefit, and in the likely information value of the ideas expressed. We then theorize how distinct voice flows should be differentially related to unit performance based on these core characteristics and test our hypotheses using time-lagged field data from 801 employees and their managers in 93 units across nine North American financial service organizations. Results demonstrate that voice flows are positively related to unit effectiveness when they are targeted at the focal leader of that unit – whether from that leader’s own subordinates or those in other units – and negatively related to unit effectiveness when they are targeted at coworkers. Together, these studies provide a framework for simultaneously studying the nature and impact of multiple voice flows, some along formal reporting lines and others that reflect an informal communication structure within organizations. This research demonstrates that understanding the potential performance benefits and costs of voice for leaders and their units requires both consideration of the rich and complex nature of this phenomenon and attention to the structure of multiple voice flows rather than an undifferentiated volume of voice. 



Cross-Understanding and Shared Mental Models in Group Cognition

Kyle Lewis, Associate Professor, Department of Management

Mark Bayer, Doctoral Student, Department of Management

Mayra Chapa, Undergraduate Research Assistant

More and more, firms are utilizing work groups to accomplish important tasks. This practice is based on the belief that groups of people can produce superior decisions, products, and ideas that add value for firms, due primarily to the quantity and variety of knowledge that exists in a collective. In the group cognition literature, shared mental model theory holds that groups will experience better coordination and performance if their task-relevant structured knowledge sets, or mental models, are very similar across members. It could be that instead of mental model similarity, cross-member understanding of mental models could also lead to effective coordination and group performance.

Cross-understanding is a group-level compositional construct that reflects the extent to which group members have an accurate understanding of each others' task-relevant mental models. The viewpoint focuses not on whether group members’ mental models are similar or different, but rather on how well members understand each others’ mental models. Cross-understanding is theorized to have beneficial effects on group learning and product quality via three mechanisms: 1) enhanced communication and comprehension; 2) increased mental model elaboration and usefulness; and 3) improved inter-member anticipation and coordination.

Our research examines this tension between shared mental model theory and cross-understanding. We hypothesize that cross-understanding will improve groups’ coordination and performance via the three mechanisms mentioned above, and further, that groups may suffer from low shared mental models, yet still perform at a high level as long as they have high cross-understanding. This alternative explanation for coordination and group performance extends the group cognition literature in a new direction and expands the field’s understanding of the cognitive factors that influence group performance.

All Eyes on You: Public Consumption Contexts and Hedonic Adaptation to Products

All Eyes on You: Public Consumption Contexts and Hedonic Adaptation to Products

Julie R. Irwin, Professor, Department of Marketing

Sunaina K. Chugani, Marketing Doctoral Candidate

Research on general happiness has shown that significantly positive life events tend to maintain their positivity for longer periods of time when they involve social interactions. We examine a more common situation in the domain of product consumption, i.e., the presence of others during consumption, and test whether hedonic adaptation to products is moderated by public contexts. By tracking happiness with products over time, we show that both the presence of others and simply being aware of others (either chronically or via a prime) slows down adaptation to products. We provide evidence that the primary driver of this effect is consumers imputing that the "social audience" views their product favorably, and this sense helps maintain initial product happiness level over time. In fact, when consumers are instructed that the social audience does not approve of a product, adaptation to that product is not slowed by the presence of others.


Friend or Foe? The Dynamics of Interpersonal Relationships in Goal Pursuit


Susan Broniarczyk, Professor,Department of Marketing

Szu-chi Huang, PhD student, Department of Marketing

Kaavya Bector, Undergraduate Research Assistant

This research explores the factor of social interactions at initial versus advanced stages of goal pursuit. We propose that when people first start pursuing a goal, they are more likely to treat others pursuing the same goal as “friends.” This enhances the perceived attainability of the goal. However, when people approach the end point of the pursuit, they conversely treat others pursuing the same goal as “foes,” and seek to win the alleged “competition” by attaining the goal sooner than others, because the feeling of winning adds to the perceived value of goal attainment. Interview data from a weight-loss and a quit-smoking program provide preliminary support for our hypothesis. Two lab experiments have allowed us to monitor how people’s perceived closeness with each other changed throughout the pursuit, as well as how their interaction frequency and information sharing behaviors evolved. We are currently in the process of collecting longitudinal data among a student population, and designing a field experiment with a local sports company.



Influence of psychological closure, psychological distance, and abstraction on consumer behavior

Andrew D. Gershoff, Associate Professor, Department  of Marketing

Jae-Eun Namkoong, PhD student, Department of Marketing

This research includes a series of projects that explore the role of psychological closure on a wide range of consumer judgments, decisions, and emotional experiences. We test that closure on a negative consumer experience, such as a product failure, makes people feel the experience happened further in the past and is less likely to happen again. This increased psychological distance has implications for brand evaluation, product repurchase, and insurance purchase. We have also shown that when given a sense of closure on a learning experience (learning about a product or product category), people think about the learning experience in an abstract manner, leading them to feel more knowledgeable about the learned topic. We also investigate people's tendency to desire proper endings (and hence, the feeling of closure) during consumption, which leads them to consume quantities that may be perceived as completing units or patterns.