Labor Relations

Kevin Lewis

July 28, 2020

The Demotivating Effects of Communicating a Social-Political Stance: Field Experimental Evidence from an Online Labor Market Platform
Vanessa Burbano
Management Science, forthcoming


Despite a recent surge in corporate activism, with firm leaders communicating about social-political issues unrelated to their core businesses, we know little about its strategic implications. This paper examines the effect of an employer communicating a stance about a social-political issue on employee motivation, using a two-phase, preregistered field experiment in an online labor market platform. Results demonstrate an asymmetric treatment effect of taking a stance depending on whether the employee agrees or disagrees with that stance. Namely, I observe a demotivating effect of taking a stance on a social-political issue with which employees disagree and no statistically significant motivating effect of taking a stance on a social-political issue with which employees agree. This study has important implications for the nascent scholarship on corporate activism, as well as the scholarship on strategic human capital management.

A Numbers Game: Quantification of Work, Auto-Gamification, and Worker Productivity
Aruna Ranganathan & Alan Benson
American Sociological Review, forthcoming


Technological advances and the big-data revolution have facilitated fine-grained, high-frequency, low-cost measurement of individuals' work. Yet we understand little about the influences of such quantification of work on workers' behavior and performance. This article investigates how and when quantification of work affects worker productivity. We argue that quantification affects worker productivity via auto-gamification, or workers' inadvertent transformation of work into an independent, individual-level game. We further argue that quantification is likely to raise productivity in a context of simple work, where auto-gamification is motivating because quantified metrics adequately measure the work being performed. When work is complex, by contrast, quantification reduces productivity because quantified metrics cannot adequately measure the multifaceted work being performed, causing auto-gamification to be demotivating. To substantiate our argument, we study implementation of an RFID measurement technology that quantifies individual workers' output in real time at a garment factory in India. Qualitative evidence uncovers the auto-gamification mechanism and three conditions that enable it; a natural experiment tests the consequences of quantification of work for worker productivity. This article contributes to the study of quantification, work games, technology, and organizations, and we explore the policy implications of further quantification of work.

Human "resources"? Objectification at work
Peter Belmi & Juliana Schroeder
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming


People behave differently when at work than not at work; for example, they are less interested in making close friends and use more transactional language (networking vs. socializing). These examples hint at a broader phenomenon: that people engage in more objectification - treating people akin to objects - in work contexts than non work contexts. We propose that objectification is more prevalent at work because people engage in more calculative and strategic thinking (i.e., making decisions by computing the costs and benefits). Seven studies (N = 2,712) test this. In Study 1, participants objectified the same individuals more when they were pictured at work (e.g., in an office) than not at work (e.g., in a coffee shop). In Study 2, there was more objectification when the same event was framed as more (vs. less) work-related. Studies 3a and 3b (experience-sampling studies with 2,300 data points) show that working adults objectify others more during work than non work interactions and demonstrate which situational characteristics enhance objectification. Study 4 manipulates the proposed mechanism: Participants nudged to think less calculatively and strategically showed a reduced tendency to objectify others in work contexts. Considering consequences, job applicants in Study 5 who read company mission statements containing more calculative language expected more objectification and were less interested in applying. Moreover, employees who perceived more objectification in their workplace reported more negative work experiences (e.g., feeling lower belonging, experiencing more incivility; Study 6). Together, these studies provide insight into how objectification arises, where it occurs, and its consequences.

Agency Temps Hurts Business Performance: An Integrated Indirect Model
Liat Eldor & Peter Cappelli
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming


The use of agency temps in the workplace has been the subject of considerable research interest, much of it focused on the effects that using temps have on the job attitudes of regular employees. We advance this stream of research by examining the effects of using agency temps on business performance. We find first that when otherwise identical workplaces make greater use of temporary help provided by agencies, the identification of the employee or "regular" workforce with their workplace declines because the perceived status of the workplace declines. This, in turn, leads to lower store-level service quality and sales. This effect is independent of the notion suggested in earlier studies that temp workers threaten the job security and opportunities for advancement of regular employees. Finally, we find that these negative effects can be mitigated by workplace-level strategies associated with shared instrumental values and social integration practices. We examine these relationships using a range of employee and store-level data sources over time from a retail chain.

Competition and Pay Inequality Within and Between Firms
Claudine Gartenberg & Julie Wulf
Management Science, forthcoming


How does market competition affect pay inequality between and within firms? Using division managers as a pool of similar workers and the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, we find that greater competition increases overall pay inequality between, but not within, firms. This null effect within firms is not driven by a lack of statistical power. Instead, we find that it arises primarily within subsamples of firms with higher predicted levels of social comparison. Increased competition leads to greater pay-performance sensitivity among the higher-paid managers within firms, while it leads to greater overpayment among the other managers. These patterns are consistent with firm principals offering higher-powered incentives to their best managers and overpaying the rest. Altogether, this study suggests that, while competition leads to greater pay inequality overall, principals aim to maintain equality within firms and do so through the differential provision of incentives among employees.

The impact of short-selling pressure on corporate employee relations
Paul Brockman, Juan Luo & Limin Xu
Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming


We show that randomly-selected Regulation SHO pilot firms respond to an increased threat of short selling by significantly improving their employee relations. Pilot firms enhance employee security to reduce the likelihood of employee-related negative publicity. The reduction of workplace concerns is most evident among pilot firms with higher degree of earnings manipulation, short interest potential, likelihood of labor disputes and employee whistle-blowing. Pilot firms experience better stock performance during the post Reg-SHO period after easing workplace concerns. Overall, our study provides novel evidence that the removal of short-selling constraints has a real effect on labor relations.

Do the Hustle! Empowerment from Side-hustles and Its Effects on Full-time Work Performance
Hudson Sessions et al.
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming


Side-hustles, income-generating work performed alongside full-time jobs, are increasingly common as the gig economy provides opportunities for employees to perform supplementary work. Although scholars suggest that side-hustles conflict with full-time work performance, we assert psychological empowerment from side-hustles enriches full-time work performance. We argue that side-hustle complexity - the motivating characteristics of side-hustles - positively relates to empowerment and that side-hustle motives moderate this relationship. A study of 337 employees supports these assertions. We then investigate spillover of side-hustle empowerment to full-time work performance in a 10-day experience-sampling method study of 80 employee-coworker dyads. We address an affective pathway in which daily side-hustle empowerment enriches full-time work performance through side-hustle engagement and positive affect at work. We also consider a cognitive pathway in which side-hustle empowerment distracts from full-time work performance through side-hustle engagement and attention residue - persistent cognitions about side-hustles during full-time work. Overall, performance enrichment from side-hustles was stronger than performance conflict. We also consider affective shift from full-time work to side-hustles, finding negative affect from full-time work strengthens the relationship between side-hustle empowerment and engagement. Combined, our two studies examine the source of side-hustle empowerment and how and why side-hustle empowerment influences affective and cognitive experiences during full-time work.

Signaling Creative Genius: How Perceived Social Connectedness Influences Judgments of Creative Potential
Devon Proudfoot & Sean Fath
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming


In today's knowledge economy, effectively signaling one's creative potential can be advantageous. Five experiments demonstrate that cues signaling a person's separateness from others (as opposed to social connectedness) boost evaluations of their creative potential. "Lone" targets - engaging in activities alone - were judged more likely to generate creative ideas compared with targets engaging in identical activities with others. This effect was explained by perceived social independence and was unique to creativity judgments-our manipulation did not influence perceptions of other positive attributes, including ability to generate practical ideas (Studies 1a and 1b). The effect of social independence on perceived creativity was not reducible to perceived nonnormativity and was attenuated when creativity was construed as requiring convergent thinking rather than divergent thinking (Studies 2-4). Findings advance our understanding of how individuals of varying degrees of social connectedness tend to be viewed by others, providing insight into observers' lay beliefs about creative potential.

When Putting Work Off Pays Off: The Curvilinear Relationship Between Procrastination and Creativity
Jihae Shin & Adam Grant
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming


Although it is widely assumed that procrastination is counterproductive, delaying task progress may have hidden benefits for creativity. Drawing on theories of incubation, we propose that moderate procrastination can foster creativity when employees have the intrinsic motivation and opportunity to generate new ideas. In two experiments in the U.S., we tempted participants to engage in varying degrees of procrastination by making different numbers of funny YouTube videos easily accessible while they were supposed to be solving business problems. Participants generated more creative ideas in the moderate rather than low or high procrastination conditions. This curvilinear effect was partially mediated by problem restructuring and the activation of new knowledge. We constructively replicated and extended the curvilinear effect in a field study with Korean employees: procrastination predicted lower task efficiency, but had an inverted-U-shaped relationship with creativity. Employees who procrastinated moderately received higher creativity ratings from their supervisors than employees who procrastinated more or less, provided that intrinsic motivation or creative requirement was high. We discuss theoretical and practical implications for time management, creativity, and motivation in organizations.

Do You Get What You Pay for? Salary and Ex Ante Player Value in Major League Baseball
John Solow & Anthony Krautmann
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming


The last few years have seen a resurgence of very long, very expensive guaranteed contracts in Major League Baseball. Commentators who examine the outcomes of earlier long-term contracts generally conclude that teams greatly overpay in these situations. These assessments suffer from the use of perfect hindsight, however. In this article, we estimate the economic gain that could be anticipated at the time of signing of a contract. We forecast the player's expected future productivity in terms of winning based on recent performance at the time of the contract signing and adjusted for player aging. We translate this expected performance into a stream of expected marginal revenues using estimates of the team-specific value of a marginal win and discount these to present value at the time of signing. The economic cost of the contract to the team is measured by the discounted stream of guaranteed future salaries across the contract horizon. Comparing these benefits and costs indicates that teams overpay on average and more so for longer contracts. Some part of this is likely explained by benefits beyond the effect of games won.


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