2023 Funded Research

Connections and Disconnections in the Workplace: Allyship and Relationships Across Differences

This April 2024 mini-conference will be the inaugural event in a broader collaboration among Wharton, INSEAD, and Harvard Business School which is focused on examining “Connections and Disconnections in the Workplace.” Wharton will host in 2024, HBS will host in 2025, and INSEAD will host in 2026.

The theme of the April 2024 Roundtable will be “Allyship and Relationships Across Differences.” This event will include 1.5 days of academic research development followed by a one-day practitioner convening on the same topic, including academic research presentations. The interpersonal and intellectual engagement afforded by this mini-conference will revitalize existing projects and launch new collaborations.


Growing Pains: Embracing Critical Feedback

Research conducted by Adam Grant, the Saul P. Steinberg Professor of Management, Professor of Psychology, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; and Courtney Elliot and Stephanie Yu, Doctoral Candidates in Management, The Wharton School, the University of Pennsylvania.


Who's Afraid of Remote Work? Narcissistic Leaders Crave a Return to the Office.

Managers often hesitate to give constructive criticism. They worry about hurting people’s careers, bruising their egos, and damaging their relationships. As a result, even when people seek feedback, they don’t always get candor in response—and when they do, it’s often difficult to hear. This raises important questions about how to make it easier to give and receive developmental feedback. In this set of studies, we seek to address the employee perspective with respect to the challenges surrounding critical feedback. We seek to characterize and explore the potential benefits of a novel form of motivation we term learning-prove motivation, which we refer to as the desire to appear interested in learning and growing.

Research conducted by Adam Grant, the Saul P. Steinberg Professor of Management, Professor of Psychology, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; and Courtney Elliot and Stephanie Yu, Doctoral Candidates in Management, The Wharton School, the University of Pennsylvania.

Navigating Race at Work: A Two-Dimensional Framework of Minority Racial-Identity Management

Current events in the world, including police brutality and the Coronavirus pandemic, are disproportionately impacting racial minorities, making conversations surrounding diversity, race, and racial justice increasingly a part of the workplace (Leigh & Melwani, 2019; McCluney, King, Bryant, & Ali, 2020; Tai, Shah, Doubeni, Sia, & Wieland, 2020). This requires racial minorities to thoughtfully navigate conversations where their own race and culture are at the forefront more than ever (Leigh & Melwani, 2019). Given this trend, and the sharp increase in corporations seeking to fulfill objectives that promote diverse and inclusive work environments, it is imperative to understand the varying degrees to which racial minorities actually feel comfortable integrating their racial identities into the workplace. Racial minorities, by virtue of belonging to historically underrepresented and often stigmatized groups, are frequently tasked with difficult decisions about whether and how to navigate their racial identities through manifestation (proactively bringing attention to their identity) versus suppression (actively withholding or concealing details about their identity) at work (Cha et al., 2019; Clair, Beatty, & MacLean, 2005; Madera, King, & Hebl, 2012).

Through this research, we advance the literature on identity management and diversity by demonstrating how different factors contribute to identity manifestation and suppression. We use this insight to reveal how organizational efforts may inadvertently encourage manifestation without minimizing the perceived pressure to suppress. Further, we demonstrate how this creates a challenging set of circumstances that have not been explored in the literature, such that racial and ethnic minorities feel forced to vacillate between identity manifestation and suppression depending on the situation. By highlighting the exhausting nature of this identity management strategy, we hope to uncover a common dilemma experienced by racial and ethnic minorities as well as propose solutions for how to avoid these circumstances.

Research conducted by Rachel D. Arnett, Assistant Professor of Management, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; Serenity S. Lee, Keana Richards, Doctoral Candidates in  Management, the Wharton School, the University of Pennsylvania; and Patricia F. Hewlin, Associate Professor, Organizational Behavior; Ombudsperson for Students at McGill University

Emergences and Consequences of an Anti-Work Orientation at Work

Millions of workers are pushing back on the notion that “work is worth” in the ever-growing anti-work movement. Despite the prevalence of anti-work sentiments among real workers, little extant research has investigated if “anti-work” is just a pop culture label applied to workers who are dissatisfied with present economic and working conditions, or if it is a new, meaningful construct. This work addresses this problem by conceptualizing anti-work orientation as a new construct with strong normative traditions, defined as a contentious rejection of the belief that work is foundational to one’s self-worth or worth to society. This project differentiates anti-work orientation from related concepts (e.g., alienation, work centrality) and builds on theories of meaningful work and organizational justice to hypothesize anti-work orientation’s unique relationships with antecedents (low status, work beliefs, and repeated justice violations) and outcomes (counterproductive and organizational citizenship behavior, via emotional exhaustion and organizational cynicism). An initial study uses latent Dirichlet allocation (LDA) topic modeling to code a massive qualitative dataset of posts from the Reddit anti-work community and reveals themes of low status, organizational injustice, and rejecting worth through work. Further quantitative studies validate a new scale of anti-work orientation, finding that this orientation is increasingly common in full-time working US adults, distinct from related constructs, and holds unique relationships. Finally, a series of cross-lagged, field and experimental studies examine these unique relationships within organizations. In later experiments, this work even explores whether relieving signals that “work is worth” via managerial intervention can attenuate the connections between anti-work orientation, emotional exhaustion and organizational cynicism – without influencing individuals who are already low in anti-work orientation.

Research conducted by Jared Scruggs , Doctoral Candidate in  Management, the Wharton School, the University of Pennsylvania