2018 Funded Research

When Giving Advice Motivates Behavior

When we are stuck or unsure of what to do, we seek advice. Yet beyond knowledge, goal achievement requires the motivation to turn knowledge into action. Based on this premise, we explore the counterintuitive hypothesis that giving advice motivates behavior in the advice-giver. To test this, we conduct a large-scale, randomized-controlled, field experiment at Teachers pay Teachers (TpT), an online marketplace for teachers to sell teaching resources to one another. In partnership with TpT, we randomize teacher-sellers to give advice to fellow teachers (Treatment 1), to give their advice to themselves (Treatment 2), or to a no-treatment control condition (Control). We examine whether advice-givers, compared to controls, increase their TpT productivity and revenue over the following month.

Research conducted by Adam M. Grant, The Saul P. Steinberg Professor of Management; The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; Lauren Eskreis-Winkler, Post-Doctoral Fellow, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania


Race and Multiple Identity Management in Workplace Relationships

Understanding the leadership and promotion experiences of US Army Officers.

In this study, we examine a potential alternative explanation for black leaders’ underrepresentation in top management positions; that is, how they manage their multiple identities (i.e., cultural/racial and work identities) in key workplace relationships. Research suggests that how multiple identities are managed at work may influence the quality of workplace relationships.  Research also suggests that relationships between managers and their subordinates can influence subordinates’ career outcomes.  Yet, the dynamics among the management of multiple identities at work, the quality of workplace relationships, and individuals’ career outcomes include their leadership and promotion experiences are not well-understood. Thus, the guiding research question for the present study is: “How does the management of multiple identities in workplace relationships shape individuals’ leadership and promotion experiences?”  This is an inductive, qualitative study that adopts grounded theory techniques. Our primary method of data collection includes semi-structured interviews with current and former US Army officers. Ideally, each officer will participate in two interviews conducted six months apart in order to examine their work experiences over time.  Our goal is to recruit a relatively matched sample of Black and White Army officers for comparison purposes from which to build theory on multiple identity management at work.


Research by Stephanie J. Creary, The Wharton School, The University of Pennsylvania; Brianna Caza, University of Manitoba; LTC Hise O. Gibson, The United States Military Academy (West Point); Laura Morgan Roberts, Georgetown University; Arran Caza, University of Manitoba

Hesitant at the Helm

The Emergence-Effectiveness Paradox of Reluctance to Lead

History books are filled with stories of bold, tenacious leaders who fearlessly took charge and ultimately changed the course of history.  These historical accounts mirror society’s perception of many leaders today, as leaders are thought to be confident, dominant, and “all in” (Schuh, Bark, Van Quaquebeke, Hossiep, Frieg, & Van Dick, 2014).  However, a deeper dive into the minds of historical and contemporary leaders reveals that some individuals are hesitant to assume the mantle.  For example, although he greatly wanted to be involved, Martin Luther King, Jr. was reluctant to lead the Civil Rights Movement due to other personal commitments, yet he was essentially forced into the job because of a vote (in favor of King) that occurred when he was late to a meeting (Carson, 1998). And one of today’s most prominent business leaders, Sheryl Sandberg, holds many reservations about taking the lead despite being highly motivated and ambitious (Sandberg, 2013).  These examples demonstrate that successful leaders may have conflicting views towards leadership; although motivated to lead they may simultaneously experience doubts about taking the reins of power, indicative of what I call leadership ambivalence.  Despite the common association between leadership and success, leading is not equally appealing to all.

As a result, individuals may hesitate to step into leadership roles and may emerge less often as leaders.  Interestingly, although the topic of leadership emergence has received extensive attention from organizational scholars (Eagly & Karau, 1991; Judge, Bono, Ilies, & Gerhardt, 2002), our understanding of reluctance to lead remains limited.  Extant work on diversity recognizes that women and racial minorities pursue leadership roles less often than their counterparts (Eagly & Chin, 2010; Eagly, Karau, Miner, & Johnson, 1994; Gino, Wilmuth, & Brooks, 2015; Greenhaus, Parasuraman, & Wormley, 1990; Olivas, 2014; Sandberg, 2013); nonetheless, there are motivational reasons to explain why even majority group members may be disinclined to lead.

Scholars have also established that leader self-efficacy is a key determinant of who takes on leadership roles (Paglis & Green, 2002), but individuals’ doubts about leading may not necessarily center on whether they can do the job, but instead speak to doubts about whether they should do the job.  Scholars have also explored individual-level differences in motivation to lead (Chan & Drasgow, 2001), indicating that this is an important driver of whether or not individuals “opt” into leading, and/or are selected to lead by others.  However, research on approach-avoidance conflict (Chatterjee & Heath, 1996; Lewin, 1935; Miller, 1944) and ambivalence (Fong & Tiedens, 2002; Pratt, 2000) suggest that individuals may simultaneously be drawn towards yet resist leading, but little is known about why people hesitate to become leaders even when motivated to do so.  Furthermore, organizational scholars have yet to explore how ambivalent individuals (that is, those who are both motivated and reluctant to lead) perform as leaders.  I therefore propose a series of studies to examine these gaps in the literature.

Research by Adam M. Grant, the Class of 1965 Wharton Professor of Management, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; Danielle Tussing, Doctoral Candidate, the Wharton School Management Department