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Research Findings

Research Findings

The Real Mommy War Is Against the State


April 1, 2019

A lawyer and I stepped into a windowless conference room in her office building in Washington, D.C., and she reflexively closed the door. I had forgotten to restock my tissues and would soon regret that. By then, I had been interviewing American mothers about their work-family conflict for several weeks. I asked women I had just met what their bosses said to them when they announced a pregnancy, what their parental leave was like, if they could ever work remotely when a child was sick.

This time, I didn’t get even 20 minutes into the conversation before the woman I was interviewing dissolved in tears.

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Research Findings

The One Percent Glass Ceiling: Gender Dynamics in Top Income Positions

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March 28, 2019

It is clear from research on corporate leadership that a glass ceiling prevents many women from occupying top executive or CEO positions.

In a recent article, we find that the glass ceiling is far more extensive than previous literature finds: women are not just excluded from top leadership positions, but rather they are excluded from nearly all top income positions regardless of occupation. We also find that progress on this front has been stalled for the last twenty years.

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Research Findings

Motherhood, Fatherhood, and Changes in Earnings


March 25, 2019

Women pay a wage penalty when they become mothers, earning about five percent less than equally qualified childless women.

Five percent may not seem like much, but over the course of their lives, mothers will lose well over $100,000 in wages – money that could have been spent on a modest home, their children’s college education, or over ten years of groceries.

This is bad news for those who care about mothers, children, and families.

In a recent study, I asked whether the wage penalty had declined over the past few decades. Are mothers’ lives—at least in terms of their earnings—improving? Are we, in fact, witnessing a trend toward equality? The answers were, unfortunately, mixed. Some have done better, and others have done worse.

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Research Findings

Do business schools really matter? Yes, and it’s because of their main products: MBAs

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March 20, 2019

Do business schools—and their products, MBAs—really matter?

Business school professors often lament that business education has no impact on the real world—that they waste their energy debating esoteric theories that nobody outside the academy pays attention to. But at the same time, business school critics claim that through excessive risk-taking and profit-maximizing at any cost, MBAs drove the economy into the financial crisis and the great recession a decade ago .

In a recent study, we examined how much business schools really matter. Does business school education really shape students’ minds and behaviors many years later, when they have reached top positions at major corporations and financial institutions?

We explore this question by looking at how CEOs engage in diversifying acquisitions over the last three decades. We chose to study corporate diversification because business professors dramatically changed their views about it during the period under study. This allows us to see how the business school curriculum impacted students.

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Research Findings

How inequality leads to its own legitimization


March 12, 2019

Research has demonstrated a dramatic rise of income inequality in the West. Today, across advanced capitalist countries, the top ten percent of households take home about a third of all income and own two-thirds of all wealth. 

Despite what scholars, journalists and some politicians consider a worrying trend, there is no evidence that people have grown more concerned about inequality. In fact, citizens of more unequal societies are less concerned than those in egalitarian societies. How to make sense of this paradox?

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Research Findings

Climate Change Isn’t Hurting Everyone: White Middle Class Americans Benefit from Natural Disasters

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March 7, 2019

Recently, the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference in Poland, the U.S. National Climate Assessment Report, and severe forest fires, hurricanes and winter storms have called attention to just how devastating climate change already is and will continue to be. Yet, what these events often fail to highlight is who benefits from this devastation. Understanding that piece of the puzzle is critical for building better policy approaches to climate change.

One of the most tangible effects of climate change in the United States is the mounting cost and frequency of high-impact natural hazards. In 2018 alone, mudslides engulfed large segments of Montecito, Hurricane Florence flooded a large swath of the Carolinas, Hurricane Michael destroyed communities along the Gulf coast, and California experienced some of the most destructive wildfires in history. These are just some of the most widely known events. Hundreds of other natural hazards caused millions more in damage and loss of life across the country.

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Research Findings

How mobility of R&D workers opens new avenues

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March 3, 2019

R&D employees moving from one employer to another is a frequent, yet controversial event. On the one hand, inventor mobility has been shown to have a positive effect on overall innovative activity. On the aggregate level, the fast development of new technologies in regional clusters such as Silicon Valley is driven by dynamic labor markets and high turnover rates of engineers, programmers, or developers. On the firm-level, learning-by-hiring is a fast and efficient way to acquire external knowledge.

From the perspective a firm that loses key employees, outbound mobility, on the other hand, creates costs of finding suitable replacements and is associated with the risk of losing not only employees but also crucial knowledge. Knowledge that potentially is employed by the hiring firm to compete in related markets. Recent media coverage has revealed a number of lawsuits caused by one firm’s R&D employees moving to a competitor in industries ranging from semiconductors and mobile phones to pharmaceuticals and autonomous-driving vehicles.

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Research Findings

Does outsourcing of domestic services increase female earnings?

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February 19, 2019

Even though a vast majority of all households in wealthy countries have two wage-earners, women on average work fewer hours and at lower wages than their partners. This is commonly attributed to the fact that women perform most of the routine housework. For instance, Swedish women spend approximately 15 hours per week on domestic work compared to 10 hours for men – a moderate gender gap compared to many other European countries.

When women decrease time in domestic work, their time in paid work is generally thought to increase. This may happen, for example, with increased access to child care, increased supply of low-skilled workers which makes it cheaper to hire domestic help, or technological improvements in household appliances.

However, we don’t have detailed information about exactly how much more women work for pay when these kinds of changes occur.

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Research Findings

Women’s leadership labyrinth: Why do women build less effective networks than men?

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February 13, 2019

Women on executive boards and in other top level leadership positions are still uncommon throughout the world. Germany is no exception: by the end of June 2017, only 47 out of 677 executive board members in the German stock-listed DAX, MDAX, SDAX, and TecDAX companies were female. There is a strong rationale for changing this status quo. In addition to moral motives to include women, we have compelling evidence of the  bottom line benefits that result from having more women in leadership positions. However, in top management teams across companies and in boards of companies where no quota applies, the progress is slow. We argue that women’s underrepresentation indicates the persistent existence of the leadership labyrinth – a metaphor for the numerous challenges faced by women in their careers. Being continually confronted with challenging twists and turns requires women to work extra hard and persist in the face of difficulties on their route to success.

Studies have shown that engagement in networking is crucial for career success as it facilitates access to critical career-building resources such as advice, technical knowledge, strategic insight or emotional support. However, research has also revealed that women’s professional networks are often less powerful and effective than men’s in terms of exchanged benefits. Also the presumably distinct motivations that underlie the networking behaviors of men and women remain less well understood. With our research, we provide new insights into the discussion on women, leadership and career development, with a specific focus on networking. With such insights we contribute to greater transparency in the leadership labyrinth with ineffective networks being one detrimental hurdle for women.

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Research Findings

How artisans set prices for products that are labors of love


February 8, 2019

“You get that satisfaction when you see your product transform from the raw wood to the final shape, like them taking the first footsteps, then getting shapes, then making their initial forays into the market, and finally, you have to sell them. It’s like holding their hands through this whole process and then giving them away.” – Artisan in Channapatna


In a recent study, I investigated how wood and lacquerware artisans set their prices in an isolated handicraft town in southern India called Channapatna. I conducted eight months of ethnographic fieldwork and an audit study where trained buyers were sent to purchase a standardized product.

I found that artisans offered certain buyers significant discounts (up to 50%) for their products. These discounts were puzzlingly offered to precisely those buyers who were willing to pay more for the products, such as foreigners.

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