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It’s no secret that people like to finish things; there’s something deeply and inexplicably satisfying about crossing the last item off a to-do list or acquiring the final piece of a collectible set. But just how far are people willing to go to achieve “completeness”? Recent research I conducted with Leslie John, Elizabeth Keenan, and Michael Norton of Harvard Business School investigated whether it’s possible to harness this desire to motivate people in specific ways.
In a series of studies, we used visual cues a [...]
Who wouldn’t want a promotion, particularly to a role with leadership responsibilities? It’s hard to argue against more power and more pay. And indeed, promotions to managerial roles are typically associated with an increase in job satisfaction. Management scholars and practitioners have long argued that employees value promotions not only for the accompanying boost in financial compensation but also because managerial positions offer more authority and opportunities for impactful work. Managers also have more job autonomy and decision power, as well as higher occupatio [...]
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Employee voice, or speaking up with information intended to help one’s group, has tons of well-recognized benefits. It can improve performance, help teams come up with creative solutions, and avoid issues that might hold them back. A lot of research suggests that those who speak the most in groups tend to emerge as leaders.
But does it matter who speaks up, or how they do it? In a forthcoming article in Academy of Management Journal, my colleagues Elizabeth McClean, Kyle Emich, and Todd Woodruff and I share how we explored these questions in two studies. We fou [...]
Imagine that you are choosing between two similar mutual funds, one managed by Marcus and the other by Tanya. Without additional differentiating information, there is no obvious reason to have a strong preference for one over the other.
Yet in various contexts, such as entrepreneurship and hiring, people often exhibit a preference for men over women when information about an individual’s quality (for example, their expected performance) is unavailable or unclear. Even when performance information is available, lab-based research has shown that wom [...]
In 2000, British Airways sponsored the construction of the London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel in the heart of London. When the builders encountered some technical difficulties while trying to erect the wheel, Richard Branson, the mercurial founder of rival airline Virgin Atlantic Airways, seized the opportunity. He arranged for a blimp to fly over the London Eye with a giant banner that read ‘‘BA can’t get it up!”
Though executives are acutely attuned to the role of competition in the workplace, far less attention has been paid to the role of compe [...]
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Prior to 9/11, the obligation of the military’s Reserve Component servicemembers — more commonly known as reservists — was typically limited to training one weekend a month and two weeks during the summer. In support of the extended military engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq, however, reservists have been required to serve as full-time members of the military for prolonged periods of time. A rough calculation suggests that in about half of all cases, reservists spent a year or more serving on full-time military duty, with the average dura [...]
Sarah* is a high school teacher in a school district without much understanding or acceptance of transgender individuals. For years, she remained closeted about her gender identity due to fear over how her colleagues would respond. When Sarah finally decided to come out at work, the emotional and social consequences associated with being her true self became almost unbearable:
“At school, I’m walking on eggshells, watching my back, being very protective, and having to stake out everything. There are days I call in [sick] from the parking lot because I get there and say ‘ [...]
Vincent Tsui for HBR
It was Alex Osborn, a 1960s advertising executive, who coined the term brainstorming. He passionately believed in the ability of teams to generate brilliant ideas, provided they follow four rules: members should share any idea that came to mind, build on the ideas of others, avoid criticism, and, most notably, strive for quantity not quality. Subsequent scientific research confirmed Osborn’s instincts: groups who follow his guidelines show more creativity than those who don’t. For example, in one study, brainstorming groups given quantity goals g [...]
Consider the following situations:
A surgeon creates an online profile of her qualifications and experience for potential patients, but she does not include her patient mortality rates. After one of her patients dies on the operating table, a lawyer for the patient’s family discovers that the surgeon deliberately withheld the mortality data.
You are eating at a restaurant and see a rat scurry across the floor. As you are leaving the restaurant, you realize that the restaurant did not visibly post information about its health code compliance and violations.
As consumers and citizens in th [...]
Mistakes occur more frequently than we’d like. And generally, when they happen, we often don’t go about advertising them to others. But companies can benefit from letting consumers know when they make mistakes with a product. Consumers perceive these products as more unique, because they think mistakes in product creation are more improbable than there being no mistakes. And the perceived rarity of mistakes increases their value.
To explore the preference for products made by mistake, we conducted a series of experimental studies and examined market sales data. In our fir [...]
Transforming a school is a long, hard, and often lonely task. Some people want change, others don’t, and some simply aren’t prepared to wait for results to show. As a school leader sets off on this journey, how do they know what to do, when to do it, who to listen to, and how to manage critics along the way?
Our study of the actions and impact of 411 leaders of UK academies found that only 62 of them managed their turnaround successfully and sustainably transformed their school. While other leaders managed to create a school that looked good while they were there, but then went bac [...]
Paul Garbett for HBR
It’s become a popular explanation for the gender-wage gap: Women are less likely than men to self-advocate for a pay raise. It has an appealing logic. If we can get women to negotiate more like men, then the gap will shrink. This is in part why there has been a surge in negotiation trainings for women. For example, in 2015, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh launched a five-year partnership with the American Association of University Women (AAUW) to offer free salary negotiation workshops to women in the city of Boston. These trainings are now offered across the nation.