Work and Organization Studies

OS Seminar

The Work and Organization Studies group is a hub for the study of work, employment, and organizations, and is host to one of the longest-running seminar series at MIT. These weekly seminars attract researchers from across the Institute and around the world. The OS Seminar will take place on Thursdays from 11:00am - 12:30pm, unless noted below.  Seminar details will be sent to the OS Seminar mailing group prior to the seminar.  To join our mailing group, please contact Virginia Geiger (  Please check the schedule below for upcoming presenters.

Upcoming Presenters

  • September 14, 2023

    James Mellody,  MIT Sloan School of Management

     A Different Kind of Tradeoff: Cultural Diversity in Ecologies of Attention 

    What determines the diversity of cultural material produced in a market? In many consumer product markets, periods of competition support cultural diversity, but alternating periods of concentration drive cultural homogeneity. A stable partition can emerge, separating a culturally homogenous market center from a culturally diverse periphery. Cultural diversity exists temporarily or is relegated to the market fringe. These conditions are reflected in the choice faced by organizations: grow in the market center by producing culturally generic material, or attract a smaller, more engaged consumer base by producing culturally distinct material in the periphery. I examine a different market context: ecologies of attention, in which consumers can readily engage with multiple organizations (e.g., online communities, voluntary organizations) simultaneously and easily transition from being consumers to also producers of content. I study Reddit as a case of an attention ecology, leveraging user participation data and the text of over 2 billion comments from over 14 thousand subreddits. I find that subreddits face a tradeoff contingent on their location in the resource space, enabling cultural diversity to survive in crowded, competitive locations, while cultural homogeneity emerges in sparse, uncompetitive areas. I draw on these findings to introduce a broader theory of market partitioning.

  • September 21, 2023

    Raquel Kessinger, MIT Sloan School of Management

    Speaking Up and Speaking Out: How Employee Activists Raise Social, Political, and Moral Concerns at Work

    Despite leaders’ attempts to encourage employees to speak up inside their firms, employees may view internal voice mechanisms as insufficient to address their social, political, and moral work-related concerns. Thus, employee activists may instead co-opt the voice mechanisms that leaders set up to facilitate internal employee voice, such as townhall meetings and new communication technologies, to publicly challenge their firm either by mobilizing for collective action or engaging in noisy exits. Specifically, when they mobilize, employee activists may use these internal voice mechanisms to widely air grievances, quickly assess the level of internal support for their cause, and prepare for action. These tools may help reduce some of the barriers to engaging in contentious activism and enable employee activists to mobilize larger coalitions faster than previous mobilization tactics. However, organizational leaders may respond by revising firm values and introducing restrictive internal communication policies to limit employee activists’ use of these tools. Activists may, in turn, adapt by using these tools for early stages of organizing and later moving to more secure, external platforms. This study of how employee activists raise social, political, and moral issues at work adds an important nuance to the current literature’s understanding of both employee intra-organizational voice and employee extra-organizational voice and collective action.

  • September 28, 2023

    Alan Zhang, MIT Sloan School of Management

    Authenticity Frictions: Harnessing Risk as a Catalyst for Authenticity in Fine Wine Production

    The market for cultural goods prizes authenticity, valuing those products that seem “true” or “genuine” to what they claim to be. But unstable supply-side conditions can alter production activities and put the achievement of authenticity at risk. Drawing on 16 months of ethnographic field work at an internationally renowned winery (Cal-Cru) in Northern California, I examine how actors contend with environmental instabilities in the production of authentic fine wine. Cal-Cru has been producing fine wines consistently for over half a century, and these products are widely regarded in the industry as authentic. Yet, Cal-Cru’s achievement of authentic productions entails a perennial struggle with volatile grape-growing and wine-making conditions. What is particularly distinctive about Cal-Cru’s production process is that multiple kinds of actors (i.e., humans, weather, plants, microbes) are given considerable latitude to participate in the wine-making process, making production conditions highly complex and unstable. Instead of following industry practice to mitigate or suppress these risks, I find that Cal-Cru actively promotes and sustains them, thus harnessing risk in the service of authenticity. By allowing multiple heterogenous actors to contest and destabilize the course of production—fostering what I call authenticity frictions—Cal-Cru cultivates risky conditions as a catalyst in the production of authentic products. Cal-Cru does this through a set of recurrent trajectory management practices which incorporate and repurpose ongoing instabilities in the production process. My research explains how Cal-Cru’s consistent achievement of authenticity is accomplished not despite supply-side instabilities, but because of them. 

  • October 17, 2023

    Florencio Portocarrero, Columbia Business School

    Presented in collaboration with the IWER Seminar.

    The Effects of Participation in a CSR Intervention on Employees' Engagement in Corporate Volunteering: Evidence from a Field Experiment  

    Corporations worldwide are increasingly implementing socially responsible programs and policies. However, much of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) literature has (1) focused on the business case for CSR and (2) has been unable to provide causal evidence of the effects of CSR on employee outcomes. Using a field experiment as part of the new employee orientation process for 221 employees in a large bank, this study evaluates whether participation in a day- long CSR intervention influenced employees’ subsequent engagement in corporate volunteering activities. Two work-life emotions (organizational pride and workplace empathy) were hypothesized and tested as mediators of the effects of the intervention on subsequent volunteering behavior. Compared to employees in the control condition, treated employees reported higher levels of organizational pride and workplace empathy. Treated employees were more likely to become corporate volunteers and engaged more frequently in subsequent corporate volunteering initiatives than employees in the control condition. Workplace empathy—but not organizational pride—explained the effects of the CSR intervention on employees’ subsequent likelihood and frequency of volunteering. This study offers contributions to the CSR, corporate volunteering, and emotions in organizational life literature. 

  • October 18, 2023

    Derick Baum, Harvard University

    Presented in collaboration with the Economic Sociology Seminar.

    Inequality in Access to Social Capital and Segregation in Contact with Occupations 

    In this talk, I discuss variations in access to social capital through the lens of Nan Lin’s social capital theory. Researchers often investigate these issues via position generator (PG) instruments that ask respondents if they have acquaintances in several occupations. When combined with other information about these occupations, such as their prestige or socioeconomic index, PG data enable the construction of social capital measures like network composition and diversity. However, because they aggregate information about contact with different occupations, these measures mask qualitative differences in the resources occupations may facilitate. In a previous study, we showed that asking respondents how many contacts they have in an occupation (instead of whether they know someone) enables us to measure the level of segregation in contact with that occupation. I use data from a recent survey in Chile to illustrate this. Contact with professional workers, such as doctors and professors, is the most segregated, while contact with manual workers is the least segregated. Moreover, while educational differences explain a large portion of the segregation in contact with professional workers, sociodemographic characteristics — particularly sex and age — explain segregation in contact with other occupations. Different segregation patterns may be present elsewhere. Researchers should collect more PG data using non-dichotomous response formats to unveil them. 

  • October 19, 2023

    McKenzie Preston, Wharton

    Moral Framing as a Double-Edged Sword for Motivating Majority Group Leaders to Support DEI Issues

    Integrating research on moral frames and social norms in organizations, I generate theory to explain how employees’ use of moral frames to sell diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issues—such as racial and gender equity—can be a double-edged sword for motivating majority group leaders to support DEI initiatives. On the one hand, I argue that moral framing conveys descriptive social norms concerning the appropriateness and legitimacy for majority group leaders to champion DEI initiatives. As a result, moral framing heightens majority group leaders’ sense of psychological standing, and thus indirectly increases their support for these issues. On the other hand, I contend that moral framing establishes injunctive social norms that dictate that majority group leaders should champion DEI initiatives. As a result, moral framing triggers psychological reactance for majority group leaders, and thus indirectly reduces their support for the DEI issue. Finally, I posit that employees can strengthen the positive relationship between moral frames and psychological standing, while weakening the relationship between moral frames and psychological reactance, when they emphasize majority group leaders’ problem-solving autonomy in determining how to address the DEI issue. I test these predictions across four studies (two recall studies, a field experiment, and an online experiment) that cover racial and gender equity issues. I discuss several theoretical and practical implications.

  • October 24, 2023

    Matthew Stanley, Fuqua School of Business

    Presented in collaboration with the IWER Seminar.

    The Heroization of Groups May (Ironically) Limit Their Opportunities and Encourage Their Exploitation

    There is a contemporary cultural proclivity to attach the “hero” label to entire groups and occupations, such as nurses, teachers, social workers, firefighters, and members of the military. This label is meant to show support, appreciation, and even admiration, but are the consequences of heroization always positive? Conceptualizing the hero label as a pervasive positive stereotype, I utilize complementary methods and experimental designs to investigate the consequences of attaching this label to groups and occupations, finding that the hero label may yield certain negative consequences. I will first present evidence that heroization encourages people to funnel group members into a limited set of lower paying jobs, organizations, and careers. I will then present evidence that heroization strengthens expectations that group members would willingly volunteer for their own exploitation, and as a result, reduces public opposition to exploitative policies aimed at group members. This research not only offers new insights into pressing real-world problems but also offers the first experimental examinations of the consequences and implications of labeling groups of people as heroes.

  • October 26, 2023

    Xi Song, University of Pennsylvania

    Declining Jobs, Declining Opportunities? Mobility of Workers in Occupations With Job Contraction, 2000–2020

    Labor market restructuring—the changing size, content, and significance of different occupations—affects workers’ job mobility opportunities and outcomes. However, the existing literature either overlooks workers’ mobility response to occupational restructuring or analyzes it within occupational changes across broad categories (e.g., farming, manufacturing, or service occupations). We construct a novel occupational dataset that includes thousands of occupations from the Occupational Outlook Handbooks (2000–present) to describe changes in occupational structures, with a focus on declining occupations. By linking occupational prospects data to workers’ mobility in the Current Population Surveys, we examine job mobility opportunities of workers in occupations with contracting employment. Our analyses show that workers in occupations with job contraction face a double disadvantage with respect to occupational mobility. First, their jobs are more unstable than workers in stable occupations. Second, when they change occupations, they are likely to move from one declining occupation to another and experience downward mobility into lower-paying occupations. Our results suggest that changing occupational demand in recent decades has influenced inequality in opportunities for mobility. Workers in declining occupations face significant challenges in seeking and securing jobs in the new economy.

  • October 31, 2023

    Hunter Rendleman, Harvard University

    In collaboration with the IWER Seminar.

    Bound Together: Racial Peer Effects and Caucus Control in the U.S. Congress

    Far from the purely constituent-oriented or purely party-oriented member of Congress (MC) that existing work posits, this paper argues that MCs’ social groups and the norms of behavior that define them can powerfully constrain legislators’ behaviors. Guided by insights from scholarship on legislative organizations and identity politics, I test my argument using the case of Black MCs and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). My main empirical strategy uses an original data set of committee hearing transcripts from 2007 to 2019 and a design that exploits members’ exposure to fellow Black MCs on their various committee assignments to uncover the impact of group pressures on CBC members. I show that the effect of serving on a committee with more co-ethnic legislators varies by a given MC’s type: Members that are more aligned with the interests of the CBC — those that are left-leaning and represent more-Black Congressional districts — participate more in committee hearings, and members that are less aligned participate less. I then show using a series of empirical tests and qualitative evidence drawing on elite interviews that this pattern of results is driven by in-group sanctions for behaviors that are inconsistent with caucus goals. Together, the theory and findings shed light on the role of groups and their norms in shaping elite behavior and provide evidence for the contextual nature of legislative Black political behavior.

  • November 1, 2023

    Jordan Bresinger, Princeton University

    In collaboration with the Economic Sociology Seminar.

    The Relational Production of “Accurate” Personal Financial Data

    Financial institutions leverage personal data for countless decisions impacting consumer wellbeing, from managing account access to offering credit. The efficacy and legitimacy of those decision-making processes therefore hinges partly on the accuracy of the underlying personal data. But what does it mean for personal data to be “accurate?” Technical and legal definitions often define data accuracy as an objective quality of the information—data values are either correct or not—but that leaves unresolved the issue of what counts as correct, who gets to decide, and how. In this talk, I consider the case of data disputes resulting from identity theft to understand how personal financial data comes to be treated as accurate. Drawing on an original qualitative study of identity theft resolution, I argue that accuracy is a potentially adversarial relational achievement. That is, accuracy results from interactions between actors—e.g., financial investigators, consumers—with divergent goals and incentives that shape whether data gets classified as accurate or not. Yet these interactions unfold on unequal terrain marked by information asymmetries and other resource disparities that favor the interests of financial institutions over those of individual data subjects. These findings have important implications for how organizations manage and use personal data in the digital age.

  • November 2, 2023

    Dean Knox, Wharton

    Computational Methods for Police Oversight and Reform Under Incomplete Data

    America's 18,000 police agencies are among the nation's most ubiquitous public organizations, making contact with more than one in five residents each year. For decades, high-profile incidents of excessive police force against minorities have fueled public demands for improved oversight and reform. Yet the nature of policing data, which has relied almost exclusively on agent self-reported behavior, has posed severe challenges for democratically elected principals who seek to uphold civil rights. In this talk, I summarize a number of published and ongoing projects that collectively: (1) identify institutional challenges in accountability, with particular attention to the organizational processes by which police data are collected; (2) demonstrate the inherent limitations of this data in monitoring deviant agent behavior; (3) offer high-profile examples of how inattention to data limitations has led to underestimates of racial bias and excessive force, distortions in public discourse, and a high-profile retraction; and (4) develop computational techniques for reasoning about imperfectly observed agent behavior by fusing administrative records with novel sources, such as traffic sensors and body-worn camera footage. Throughout, I describe how the proposed methods have been implemented in collaboration with national civil-rights organizations.

  • November 7, 2023

    Chelsea Lide, Stanford Graduate School of Business

    In collaboration with the IWER Seminar.

    Second-Order Prejudice: How Our Beliefs About Others' Biases Perpetuate Discrimination in Organizations

    Despite unprecedented investments in diversity management, workplace discrimination nevertheless persists. Inspired by this paradox, the present work introduces the concept of second-order prejudice, defined as our beliefs about the prejudices of others, as an important yet underexplored driver of inequality in the workplace. Across three studies (N = 2,185), we demonstrate both how perceivers form beliefs about others’ prejudices and the consequences of these beliefs for racial discrimination. We find correlational (Study 1) and experimental (Study 2-3) evidence that perceivers systematically use the demographic diversity of an organization to infer the prejudices of that organization’s members. In turn, cues of organizational homogeneity compel perceivers to make discriminatory personnel decisions, even when they are seasoned people managers, strongly endorse egalitarian values, or are themselves a member of the minority-group. As such, this work offers a novel perspective on how—and by whom—racial discrimination is perpetuated in organizations.

  • November 9, 2023

    Krystal Lareya, Stanford University

    Playing Up Difference 

    How do groups reckon with differences in members’ identities and beliefs? A fundamental tension exists between groups, whose identities are singular and stably positioned, and their members, whose identities are multiple, intertwined, and constituted in interaction. Existing work shows how this tension is addressed through downplaying difference and playing up likeness, but we know less about how difference is played up in group life. Drawing on three years of comparative ethnographic fieldwork with two collegiate groups, I examine how group members play up identities and beliefs that are not shared by all members and how co-members respond. This analysis reveals two pathways that playing up difference takes: an engagement pathway and an avoidance pathway. The engagement pathway depends on the activation of shared structural, relational, and epistemic foundations. I conclude with a broader consideration of how playing up difference relates to the pursuit of plurality and wholeness in contemporary organizations and communities.  

  • November 14, 2023

    Erin Frey, USC Marshall School of Business

    In collaboration with the IWER Seminar.

    Professional Reestablishment: How People Continue to Work in an Industry After Being Publicly Accused of Misconduct

    With advances in technology and communication, public accusations of misconduct are becoming increasingly common. When individuals are publicly accused of misconduct, the public nature of the accusation serves to stigmatize the individual in eyes of their entire industry. Even if they want to continue working in the industry, publicly accused people should therefore find it extremely difficult to do so. Yet, publicly accused people do sometimes continue to work in the same industry they were part of at the time of their accusation. How can this be? To investigate this puzzle, we compiled a dataset of every public figure that was publicly accused as part of the MeToo movement from 2017 to 2019. Our qualitative, inductive, longitudinal study finds that most of the publicly accused people who continued to work did so in the same industry they were in at the time of their accusation – a phenomenon we call professional reestablishment. Our data indicate there were two ways that professional reestablishment happened. Either accused people focused on exoneration as a way of destigmatizing themselves, thereby convincing established organizations in the industry to hire or formally affiliate with them again; or accused people started their own entrepreneurial pursuits within the industry, thereby circumventing established organizations. Either approach enabled publicly accused people to continue working in their industry despite the stigmatization they faced. This research not only resolves a perplexing puzzle, but it also opens up new ways of thinking about destigmatization and the aftermath of transgressions in organizations.

  • November 15, 2023

    Jared Scruggs, Wharton

    In collaboration with the Economic Sociology Seminar.

    Not About the Grind: The Emergence and Consequences of Employee Anti-Work Orientation

    The growing anti-work movement sees millions rejecting the notion of “work as worth,” yet it remains unclear if “anti-work” is merely a trending label or a meaningful construct with real impacts. This research introduces anti-work orientation (AWO) and defines AWO as a contentious rejection of work as determinant of one's self-worth or worth to society. I differentiate AWO from related concepts (e.g., work centrality, anti-capitalism, alienation) and identify its key antecedents (societal and cumulative organizational injustice) and outcomes (emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and higher counterproductive work behaviors) across three studies and a mix of methods. In Study 1, I apply topic modeling and thematic analysis to analyze 189,436 posts from the Reddit r/antiwork community, revealing themes of contentious rejection of work and experienced injustice. In Study 2, across online surveys, I validate a new scale of anti-work orientation, find support for hypotheses, and observe that AWO is prevalent in working adults. Finally, in Study 3, I return to data from Reddit and apply quantitative text analysis using large language models (LLMs, e.g., GPT-4) to test hypotheses in a behavioral, archival data set, which provides a constructive replication of the model. This research establishes AWO as an impactful concept and helps pave the way for new theory and future research on contentious worker beliefs and the meaning of work.

  • November 16, 2023

    Blair Sackett, Brown University

    Circuit Breakers in Social Networks: Social Capital Mobilization and Resource Halts in a Refugee Camp

    Most research on social capital examines who people turn to for help, assuming that the presence of a social tie lends access to their resources. Less is known about the contingencies of social capital mobilization and the dynamics of resource flows between social ties. This talk illuminates the social conditions of rejected requests for resources between stable social ties, drawing on the empirical case of a refugee camp in Kenya with a population of over 180,000 people. Based on 153 interviews with aid workers and refugees, a unique data set of longitudinal surveys with 14 refugee households varying across nationality and employment status, and 14 months of ethnographic observations with refugee households and seven humanitarian organizations in the camp, this talk develops the concept of “circuit breakers” to account for halts in social capital mobilization. I show that the timing of requests—when and how often requests are made—matters for the success of mobilization. Each request is embedded within a context of organizational resource cycles and network resource fluctuations. When resource demands surged, social ties rejected requests. Thus, it is not just who you ask, but when you ask. Rather than assuming the steady flow of resources between social ties, studies of social capital need to take into account the temporal context with changes in the success of mobilization over time. These findings have implications for the role of organizations in structuring resource flows in social networks.

  • November 28, 2023

    Naz Ghaedipour, Stanford University Centre for Work, Technology, and Organization

    In collaboration with the IWER Seminar.

    Metrics as Identity Baits: Perpetuation of Hope Labor Through Quantification  

    Prior research has examined when and how quantification (e.g., metrics and rankings) discipline workers by negating their individual identity via normative pressures. However, findings from my empirical setting suggest that quantification can also serve to encourage and validate workers’ unique identities. Through a qualitative field study of Instagram cultural production, I examine how and when quantification technologies could validate workers’ identities, and how such identity-affirming quantification influences the experience and practices of work. Analyzing 50 semi-structured interviews with Instagram content creators, five years of participant observation as a creator, and archival data, I find that quantification can discipline workers through a process that I term identity baiting. The process model of identity baiting traces a recursive cycle that explains how evaluative metrics enable the temporary affirmation of a desired identity and trigger the compulsive pursuit of further identity affirmation, thereby perpetuating engagement in hope labor (unpaid or underpaid labor carried out in hope of future rewards). Central to the repetition of this process is habit-forming persuasive technology design. Importantly, creators actively participate in sustaining the process of identity baiting through optimism strategies. These strategies involve developing a repertoire of meanings to liberally attach to metrics depending on whether they are high or low. Taken together, I show how, even in the absence or scarcity of material rewards or opportunities, habit-forming quantification technologies can perpetuate hope labor through identity baiting. The process model of identity baiting contributes to our understanding of quantification technologies and control in contemporary work.   

  • November 30, 2023

    Nathan TeBlunthius, University of Michigan

    Density-Dependent Competition in Discourse: Evidence from Online Petitions

    Collective action depends on discourse to construct shared understandings of grievances and goals that are communicated through language. Ecological dynamics within this discourse are important in efforts to mobilize participation because concurrent campaigns frequently involve different activists who use similar language. How does the coexistence of these campaigns shape their success? Do concurrent campaigns compete over participants or do they complement each other? Ecological models of organizational behavior predict (1) a density-dependent trade-off between language similarity and participation, and (2) decreased competition between generalists and specialists. To instantiate such models, I use a novel application of computational text analysis in a population of campaigns where language is central to mobilizing activists and levels of participation are extremely varied: online petitioning on In contrast to prior results from organizational ecology, I find that competition for signatures among similar petitions is intense and that more specialized petitions do not escape it.

  • December 5, 2023

    Austin van Loon, Duke University

    In collaboration with the IWER Seminar.

    Exemplifying Our Virtues or Rectifying Our Iniquities? National Self-Understandings and Natives' Immigration Policy Preferences

    Why do group members prefer to include some and exclude others? In this talk, I investigate one important factor: how they understand their group at a conceptual level. Specifically, while previous literature demonstrates an "exemplifying" pathway by which members prefer to build on the virtues of their group, I theorize the existence of a "rectifying" pathway by which members prefer to ameliorate their group's failings. I test the relative strength of these two pathways in the context of US-born natives' attitudes towards various immigration policies. Measuring respondents' negative and positive understandings of "America" via a novel concept association task and quantifying their respective impacts on policy preferences via machine learning, I find that the rectifying pathway is much stronger in my context. My results have important implications for building diverse coalitions, for resolving intergroup conflict, for studying cultural boundaries, and for understanding the debate over immigration in the US.

  • December 7, 2023

    Lara Yang - Stanford Graduate School of Business

    Contextualizing Homophily: How Similarity in Enacted Identity Shapes Social Ties

    Homophily is a fundamental principle that orders and structures social ties. Existing work conceptualizes homophily as a static phenomenon. In the commonly studied case of gender homophily, for instance, two individuals either share the same gender or they do not. However, a core insight in the identity literature is that identities are dynamically enacted as a function of social contexts and interactions. Integrating this insight, I maintain that homophily is also a dynamic, interactional, and contextualized process. Building on prior work, I theorize that similarity in enacted identity predicts tie existence and strengthens existing ties. I further deconstruct enacted identity similarity into its intra-relational and extra-relational components. That is, for each pair of individuals, I distinguish between identity enacted within and outside of the purview of their relationship. Under the contextualized view of identity, intra- and extra-relational enacted identities should diverge, and only intra-relational enacted identity similarity should strengthen social ties. Finally, I contend that the effect of intra-relational enacted identity similarity is amplified when enacted in private contexts, as privacy renders enacted identity more authentic and intimate. By applying word embedding models to a corpus of proprietary Slack communication records, I develop a novel approach to measuring enacted identity and its similarity. Through analyzing channel membership on Slack, I identify the intra-relational and extra-relational components of enacted identity similarity. Combining this approach with responses from a network survey, I find consistent support for my hypotheses.

Previous Presenters

  • February 9, 2023

    Professor Jasmine Hill, University of California, Los Angeles 

    Hustle Culture and the Spirit of Platform Capitalism 

    Sociologists note the rise of a new economic regime, giving rise to the gig economy and making all work conditions more precarious: “platform capitalism.” In this article, I contend that the rise of platform capitalism creates a new cultural set of beliefs, symbols, and rituals, catalyzed in predominately white middle-class online communities, which I term “hustle culture.” This paper proceeds with four core arguments. First, I argue that hustle culture emerges from platform capitalism as a means to make sense of the precarity brought on by thus this new economic order. Second, I demonstrate that distinct from other cultural forms like the American Dream, hustle culture, and its adherents (self-proclaimed “hustlers”) believe that entrepreneurialism, the right mindset, and the platforms themselves will lead to financial freedom. Still, (and third) hustle culture co-opts a historical notion of “the hustler” articulated by Black communities. Yet,(and finally) hustle culture still perpetuates colorblind racism and sexism by waxing over the consequences of structural inequality. In response to economic and technological change, I show that self-described “hustlers” believe that social mobility is the result of1) entrepreneurialism, 2) the appropriate mindset, and 3) the savvy use of platforms themselves. In this paper, I define and articulate hustle culture's goals, locate its origins precarity born from platform capitalism and the gig economy, and expose hustle culture’s connection to (and dismissal of) racial inequality using real examples of the cultural frame from a digital ethnography of the popular social media platform,“TalkBox.” This work offers the literature a deeper articulation of hustle culture to better account for how individuals make sense of, legitimate, and perpetuate rising inequalities in the era of platform capitalism and the gig economy. 

  • March 2, 2023

    Professor Jeffrey Polzer, Harvard Business School  

    When Meetings Multiply: The Downsides of Collaboration in Organizations 

    Collaboration is a key ingredient to organizational performance, yet employees in many companies struggle to achieve the right balance of collaborative activities. A common problem occurs when employees collaborate in frequent and time-consuming ways that interfere with productivity. To study this problem, we develop hypotheses about how meetings and email – two common conduits of collaboration – increase organizational performance up to a point, beyond which they have diminishing and then negative returns. We test these hypotheses with a novel dataset containing firm-level meta-data on meetings and email in 216,094 de-identified organizations. We find that meeting and email behavior each exhibit an inverted U-shaped relationship with firm revenue, providing the first evidence of this phenomenon across a large sample of organizations. The harmful effect of too many meeting hours on performance is worse in firms that also have high levels of email activity and in firms where the overall level of meeting activity is distributed equally across employees. Meeting and email activity combine to influence multi-tasking, the phenomenon of sending emails during meetings, which, when overdone, is negatively associated with revenue. We discuss the theoretical and managerial implications of these results for the relationship between collaboration and performance.  


  • March 9, 2023

    Professor Ashleigh Rosette, Duke- Fuqua School of Business 

    Prototypes, Privilege & Perspectives: How Racial Hierarchy in Organizations is Developed, Sustained, and Dismantled 

  • April 6, 2023

    Professor Lindy Greer, Michigan University - Michigan Ross School of Business  

    Hierarchical Flexing: How High-Performing Teams Dynamically Adapt Their Perceived Hierarchy to Meet Situational Demands 

    In this talk, I introduce the phenomenon of 'hierarchical flexing', or the degree to which teams can adapt their interactions to work in a relatively more hierarchical or more egalitarian manner, based on task demands (i.e., operating hierarchically to execute orders or operating in a flat manner to brainstorm). I first discuss a qualitative study of start-up teams, in which we develop theory about how teams intentionally manage competing demands for hierarchy and equality. Based on a grounded theory analysis of 60 interviews and over 100 hours of observations, we find that some start-up teams are able to flex their internal hierarchy, fluctuating between moments of high versus low perceived hierarchical distance to match situational demands. This process of hierarchical flexing gives rise to three novel paradoxes: (1) Teams often are characterized by both hierarchy and equality. (2) Members’ perceived hierarchical distance within the team does not always align with the distance implied by the team’s formal hierarchy. (3) Periodically flattening the team’s perception of its internal hierarchy can reify a functional formal hierarchy. To make sense of these theoretical paradoxes, we develop theory around the micro-processes by which teams emphasize or minimize the perception of the hierarchical distance within the team to meet team needs, altering our theoretical understanding of how hierarchies function in teams. I then present the results of a set of multi-method set of studies with both laboratory and field data which show that teams which regularly flex the perceived hierarchical distance in their team have higher quality team interactions and better team performance outcomes.  

  • April 27, 2023

    Professor Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, Michigan University - Michigan Ross School of Business  

    How Entrepreneur Emotional Ambivalence Shapes Evaluator Endorsement of Early-Stage Ventures 

    Research has suggested that positive emotion is key to entrepreneurial pitches. However, the utility of positive emotion has recently been called into question. We examine whether entrepreneur displayed emotional ambivalence – a psychological state of conflict associated with holding both positive and negative feelings at the same time – can increase endorsement of early-stage ventures, compared to positive emotion. In Study 1, we extracted two brief video clips from an actual pitch competition, one that displayed emotional ambivalence and one that displayed positive emotion. We find stronger endorsement of an early-stage venture presented by an entrepreneur who displayed emotional ambivalence. Moreover, this effect was mediated by increased inferences of entrepreneur cognitive flexibility. Study 2 replicated this finding using clips with only nonverbal emotional displays. Study 3, replicated and further extended these findings using video clips of nascent entrepreneurs trained by a coach to display emotional ambivalence or positive emotion in a pitch. Results show increased initial financial endorsement and investments of feedback by casual investors in entrepreneurs who display emotional ambivalence. Study 4 speaks to the ecological validity of these results utilizing a sample of venture capitalists and angel investors. Emotionally ambivalent entrepreneurs received more extensive and more insightful feedback from venture capitalists and angel investors compared to entrepreneurs who displayed positive emotion. Together, these findings reveal that displayed emotional ambivalence increases perceptions of cognitive flexibility, with beneficial consequences for evaluative endorsement, initial financial endorsement and investments of feedback in early-stage ventures.