2019 Funded Research

Organizational Behavior Conference

This year, the Leadership Center has generously sponsored Wharton’s annual Organizational Behavior mini-conference. For the past 21 years, this event has served as a forum for faculty to present new work and start new collaborations. The attendees are junior faculty from around the world who we have invited because they are conducting cutting-edge research in organizational behavior. This mini-conference is designed to be an opportunity for young scholars to engage in a dialogue that is more interactive than that typically found in large-scale conferences. Thus, this conference not only brings together young scholars doing important work in organizational behavior, but also facilitates the development of new collaborative ties and deep discussions of ongoing research. This year, we have assembled a diverse group of scholars whose work examines topics such as leadership, teams, diversity, emotions, culture, change, creativity, power, and ethics.

The Wharton OB Conference is sponsored by the Management Department, the Center for Leadership and Change Management, and the Center for Human Resources at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. The Conference is led by Professors Stephanie Creary and  Drew Carton

The Benefits and Burdens of Moralizing Work

Morality is a critical element of organizational life. Scholars have argued that leaders should emphasize a moral purpose (Brown & Trevino, 2005), organizational cultures should create strong moral norms (Mayer et al., 2009) and that organizational socialization should incorporate moral values (Martin, 2016). To this end, research has suggested that organizational members are increasingly becoming concerned with morality. For example, a recent survey suggests that over half of employees are concerned with the moral implications of their work (IBE Ethics Survey, 2018). In this sense, some employees have moralized their work and apply normative ethical considerations to their work activities (Rozin, 1999).

Research conducted by Timothy Kundro, Management Doctoral Candidate, the Wharton School.

Employees as Culture Carriers

Shaping organizational cultures is a key priority for senior leaders (O’Reilly & Chatman, 1996: Schein, 2010). However, culture is not the sole prerogative of authority figures at the top of hierarchies. Employees sometimes step up to become culture carriers, taking the initiative to influence organizational norms and values. Yet little research has explored the consequences of culture carrier behavior for employees. We are conducting a series of studies to examine whether and how organizations recognize the important role that culture carriers play.

Research conducted by Constantinos G.V. Coutifaris, Doctoral Candidate; the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and Adam M. Grant, the Saul P. Steinberg Professor of Management, the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. 

Narrative Identity Work and Leader Selection Decisions

Past research suggests that to establish their prototypicality, individuals make identity claims that are then granted or not by others (DeRue & Ashford, 2010).  Leader selection is one context where this type of identity work can be especially critical. Research suggests that factors such as personality differences between applicants and their raters can influence the formal leader selection process (Carnes, Houghton, & Ellison, 2015).  There is also evidence that group deliberations where selection committees meet to review evaluators’ ratings can matter to who is ultimately selected for work-related opportunities (Rivera, 2012; 2016). Yet, little is known about whether and how the quality of an applicant’s identity work, how raters perceive it, and group deliberations processes can influence leader selection decisions.  This study aims to examine these relationships in more detail.

Research conducted by Stephanie Creary, Assistant Professor, Management Department, the Wharton School; McKenzie Preston, Management Doctoral Candidate, the Wharton School, and Ariann M. Ulloa, Management Doctoral Candidate, the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. 

The Unexpected Benefits of Feeling Overestimated by Others: The Relationship Between Imposter Thoughts and Performance

Recent years have seen a surge in interest in a phenomenon popularly known as the imposter syndrome. The majority of existing theory and empirical work has focused on the drawbacks of the syndrome. Yet, there are hints that the phenomenon may have benefits. These benefits, however, may be obscured due to current conceptualizations of the phenomenon as an individual difference that makes it virtually indistinguishable from neuroticism, low self-efficicacy, and maladaptive perfectionism. In this project, I seek to rebalance the converstaion around the phenomenon by introducting the construct of workplace imposter thoughts, which is defined as the temporary belief that others may overestimate one’s talent or abilities at work. Drawing on theories of resource allocation and identity, I hypothesize relationships between imposter thoughts and task performance as well as interpersonal performance. After developing and validating a self-report measure of imposter thoughts using seven lab and field samples, I seek to test my hypothesis in a field study of physicians-in-training during which physicians interact with Standardized Patients in twelve different medical encounters.

Research conducted by Basima Tewfick, Management Doctoral Candidate, the Wharton School, and Phil Tetlock, the Leonore Annenberg University Professor in Democracy and Citizenship, Professor of Management, Professor of Psychology, the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.