2011 Funded Research

Advances with Field Experiments 2011 Conference

Iwan Barankay and John List (University of Chicago), will organize a two day conference that focuses on field experiments and the interaction with theory, how field experiments are used within organizations, and how field experiments are used to inform and evaluate policy design. This is the second installment of this conference. The meeting is designed to bring together economists and researchers from related areas. An important aim of this workshop is also to provide young researchers with the opportunity to meet and discuss their work with more senior economists. We are also very pleased that Uri Gneezy (UC San Diego) and George Loewenstein (Carnegie-Mellon) will be giving keynote addresses at this year’s conference. The conference webpage is located here: http://hit.wharton.upenn.edu/

Career Paths to Leadership

Matthew Bidwell and Ethan Mollick are exploring the different career paths that individuals take to senior leadership positions across a variety of industries. In today’s boundaryless world, careers can span different companies, functions, industries, and geographies. They hope to understand the effects of these different kinds of moves on subsequent individual success, as individuals trade off the benefits of breadth and depth. The project is based on a survey of all Wharton MBA alumni. They are asking them about details of all of the jobs that they have held since their graduation, paying particular attention to moves within firms as well as across them. Based on the data, they hope to build a stronger understanding of the career paths that develop today’s leaders.

Conference on Work-Life Issues and Leadership in a Global Economy

As the fabric of the employment relationship is changing, and employees out of need or preference are changing their values around how they manage the intersection of their work/non-work lives, there is a growing understanding among corporate leaders that work-life issues are very important to consider in how they should structure their organizations and lead their employees.  Much of this change has come from structural shifts in the labor market such as the increase in women’s employment and dual career couples. These structural shifts have led to the need to re-examine leadership and organizational policies regarding work practices in order to best motivate and support employees in general and high potential employees in particular.  Many employees including dual career men and women are increasingly seeking flexibility, balance, and opportunities for integration between their demanding professional and family commitments. Likewise, those leading organizations with locations around the world confront issues of relocation decisions for dual-career families and corporate assignments for high potential employees. Leaders must also make choices about whether and how to use powerful communication technologies to facilitate working from home – decisions about whether telecommuting is a desirable practice that can support needs for flexibility or whether it doesn’t address the core business requirements that may involve face-to-face encounters with co-workers and clients on a regular basis.  These are but a few of the ways that the changing nature of the workforce and work-family issues are influencing the ways that leaders need to think about the workforce.  Understanding how to manage these changes in a workforce with an increasing diversity of family forms — single mothers, empty-nesters, and those taking a wide range of routes through the life course – has become a pressing leadership problem.  To better understand these issues and to bring together scholars doing research on related topics, Nancy Rothbard and Jerry Jacobs ar hosting a conference that will address Work Life Issues and in a Global Economy. The conference will draw from work-life and work-family scholars nationally. A wide range of issues will be addressed, from sick-leave legislation to elder-care, from time use studies to efforts to promote synergies between work and family, from challenges of globalization to leadership in a changing workforce.

Leading Stakeholder Engagement

Witold Henisz, Sinziana Dorobantu and Lite Nartey investigate the executive and top management team backgrounds and implementation processes that contribute to the adoption of sophisticated stakeholder engagement strategies among gold mining companies. Such efforts to address the needs of local stakeholders, take into account their preferences and work with them in partnership engender greater stakeholder cooperation and reduced conflict which their prior research shows are substantial contributors to market valuation. Their field research suggests that successful adoption and implementation requires leadership from the country manager and top management team. They seek to examine the extent to which observable variation in the characteristics of chief executives, top management team and Board members; the structural position of the company in the network of international mining companies; and the increasing salience of stakeholder engagement over time impact adoption. They also seek to better understand the internal organization and form of successful stakeholder engagement activities.

Physician Referral Practices and the Potential of Accountable Care Organizations

Lawton R. Burns and doctoral student Aditi Sen are studying physician decision-making and the potential for change in the health care delivery system (2011). One of the key components of the national health care reform law passed in March 2010 is a new model of health care delivery that emphasizes coordination of patient care called an “accountable care organization” (ACO). Effective coordination of care depends primary care physicians referring patients to specialists when needed; little is currently known, however, about how physicians make these referral decisions. This study will use a combination of surveys, qualitative interviews, and quantitative data on referral practices of physicians associated with the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania to understand current referral patterns and evaluate the potential for changing referral practices to promote improved coordination of patient care.

The Pros and Cons of Process vs. Outcome Accountability

Philip Tetlock and PhD student Shefali Patil examine the moderating effects of task unpredictability on the predictive performance of employees under process versus outcome accountability systems. Under process accountability, employees are evaluated on their compliance with specified procedures in making decisions, regardless of the quality of the final outcome. Under outcome accountability, employees are evaluated on the quality of their final outcomes, regardless of how they arrived at these decisions. Research investigating the consequences of process and outcome accountability on decision-making has resulted in mixed findings about their benefits and detriments. In an attempt to reconcile these findings, this study explores how the predictability of the employee task differentially affects the consequences of these accountability systems. The research aims to advance the scholarly and practical knowledge of the effects of process and outcome accountability on decision-making, so as to provide organizational leaders with a more comprehensive understanding of the conditions that determine their effectiveness.