Research Findings

Unstable and unpredictable work schedules are an occupational hazard

and
June 17, 2019

The rallying cry for millions of fast food and retail workers is $15 an hour.  But, low pay isn’t the only occupational hazard that baristas, servers, and cashiers face.  These workers also contend with work schedules that are unstable and unpredictable. 

Long gone are the days of 9-5 shift, and so too are even regular night or evening shifts.  Instead, workers contend with schedules that vary from day-to-day and week-to-week often with little advance notice. Workers are required to be on-call – paid if asked to work, but otherwise uncompensated.

Continue Reading…
Research Findings

Nonprofit interlocks on corporate boards: Corporate board members on the boards of nonprofit organizations

, , and
June 13, 2019

No one likes to be told what to do, but it happens all the time—even to some of the most powerful people. When powerful people have to comply, what does that mean for the organizations they influence?

We all know what it feels like to be coerced into doing something that makes us uncomfortable. As you consider examples of this, you may go to the extreme and think of a scenario where someone puts a gun to your head and tells you to do something that you never would do otherwise. While a gun to the head is, luckily, very unlikely, there are many settings where we might see forced compliance in our day to day world – including both business and philanthropic settings.

We see this, for example, when watchdog groups or other outside stakeholders (for example, regulatory agencies) mandate certain rules and actions even when the organizational members themselves consider the mandate to be detrimental to their stakeholders. Our motivation for this study was in exploring the performance impact of forced compliance on boardroom actions in corporate and non-profit settings.

Continue Reading…
Research Findings

Why should you work with a creative star?

, and
June 10, 2019

Virgil Abloh, Louis Vuitton(LV)’s men’s artistic director, and founder of Haute streetwear label Off-White, admits he learned a lot from his LV predecessor, and former mentor, Kim Jones, now creative director for Dior Homme.

The two first met in 2007 when Virgil was a virtual unknown and Kim, a prominent designer renowned for successfully blending high fashion and streetwear. Virgil reflected on his dream of collaborating with Kim, who he had admired for years: “I slept on his couch in a front room in Maida Vale and forced him to teach me stuff; I spent a summer sitting there with him.”

Like every aspiring innovator, Virgil knew that working closely with stars such as Kim would be good for him. Indeed, stories of junior designers learning from creative masters are common in various industries. However, what do you get by working with a creative star beyond fame and connections? And does it actually make you more creative?

Continue Reading…
Research Findings

The networks of people who think of quitting their job

, , and
June 6, 2019

Numerous studies have shown that people with large networks who have many friends and work relationships are less likely to quit their job than people who only have small work-related networks. But do people who think of quitting their job change their networks at work? Do they change the people they go to for advice or seek out for help? Do they change their friends? Knowing this is important because after all it may be that people who expect they will be leaving a company give up their network during the months prior to quitting. 

If this is the case it means that many previous studies that have found a connection between network size at time of exit and turnover incorrectly concluded that smaller networks make people leave the organization. Should the explanation behind the relationship between networks and turnover need to be re-written? Indeed, we found in our study that people who were thinking of quitting their job had very different networks from those who were not thinking of quitting. But the results were different from what we expected.

Continue Reading…
Research Findings

Collaborative by design? How matrix organizations see/do alliances

, and
June 3, 2019

Matrix companies such as Procter & Gamble, Eli Lilly, General Electric, or PepsiCo are more likely to enter into complex alliances with other companies, because their structure and experience working in a matrix give managers more confidence to collaborate in challenging situations.

Our research shows, however, that the stock market often penalizes these companies for such collaborations because companies take on “double complexity”; that is managing complexity both within the organization and in its alliances.

The matrix organizational structure is designed with multiple links across the company’s customer, functional, geographic, and product groups. You work in a matrix organization if you have more than one boss; for example, you report to both a regional leader and a product leader. Account manager positions and cross-functional teams are typical elements of the matrix design.

Continue Reading…
Research Findings

The class struggle over democracy


May 31, 2019

Democracy, they say, is in crisis. The Washington Post ran a Super Bowl ad warning us that “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Political scientists Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky have published a book titled How Democracies Die. And Larry Diamond, éminence grise of democracy scholarship, has diagnosed a global democratic recession.

It is not my aim to pour cold water on these kinds of concerns. There is much in recent history to fret about. Yet a single-minded focus on contemporary events can mislead. In studying only today’s backsliding, we risk ignoring the forest for a few Trump-shaped trees.

To understand democracy — to defend it and to deepen it — we should examine its long history rather than obsess about recent headwinds. In a recent article published in the American Journal of Sociology, I attempt to do just that. My research suggests that democratic progress over the last 150 years is the fruit of the changing character of class struggle over the state. Democracy has its origins in the capacity of the poor to disrupt the routines of the rich.

Continue Reading…
Research Findings

A second look at the process of occupational feminization and devaluation


May 27, 2019

Over the last half century, American women have gradually entered lucrative and prestigious occupations, one obvious sign of a reduction in gender inequality. The feminization of those occupations, however, may in turn reduce their average pay levels. In this research, I examined trends in the effect of occupational feminization on occupational pay over several decades in the U.S. and explored the mechanisms underlying these trends.

Continue Reading…
New book

The appeal – and limits – of bringing spirituality to work


May 21, 2019

In many professional workplaces, mindfulness has become a seeming panacea. Its proponents argue that it will not only help workers de-stress and improve their health, but become more self-aware and self-actualized both in and outside of work. The argument goes that, by helping develop happy, healthy, and therefore more productive employees, the large companies, schools, public agencies, and other organizations will benefit.

Mindfulness meditation includes a wide-ranging set of contemplative practices aimed at training oneself to pay “attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally,” as defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society. Mindfulness has been developed and differentiated in the course of being marketed by its proponents to a variety of organizations, from Ivy League universities to Fortune 100 businesses.

Continue Reading…
Research Findings

Authority and Caring: A Zero-Sum Game for Women Leaders?

and
May 14, 2019

The last few years have brought renewed attention to the unique challenges facing women leaders. Feminist celebrities like Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham, and  Ava DuVernay decry sexist double standards that hold women back professionally, and intense public commentary has focused on the possibility of a likability penalty for women in politics. The conversation touches on an either/or bind described by sociologists of gender: either women can “do gender” by displaying warmth and caring, or they can “do professionalism” by showing strong leadership and authority. But they can’t do both.

But is this tension reflected in the work experiences of all women leaders? In a recent study, we found that overlapping cultural stereotypes of what it means to be “white” and a “woman” give rise to a particular expectation for “feminine behavior” that may not exist for women of color whose race and gender elicit more masculinized stereotypes.

Continue Reading…
Research Findings

Gender of the immediate manager and women’s wages

, and
May 8, 2019

Improving women’s position in society, particularly in the labor market, ranks high on the political agenda in many countries. One policy under debate is implementing gender quotas in top positions or on corporate boards. Also the vice president of the European Commission in 2012 has proposed legislation enforcing such gender quotas in all European countries.

The underlying argument is generally that the gender of the manager, or the gender composition at the managerial level, affects career prospects of female employees. Thus, increased representation of women at higher levels within firms is often assumed to improve wages and career advancement of women.

This can be through preferences of the manager such as homophily – implying a preference to interact with individuals with similar characteristics, i.e., as regards gender. Or through productivity-enhancing effects due to better communication and mentoring. Alternatively an increased female representation contributes by firm structures becoming more family-friendly.

Continue Reading…