Scientific Contributions of Within-Person Research in Management

[Authors Brian W. McCormick of Northern Illinois University, Cody J. Reeves of Brigham Young University, Patrick E. Downes of Rutgers University, Ning Li, of the University of Iowa, and Remus Ilies of National University of Singapore recently published an article in the Journal of Management entitled “Scientific Contributions of Within-Person Research in Management: Making the Juice Worth the Squeeze.” Check out their video abstract!

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Why Does Paranoia Arise in the Workplace?

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Barbara C. Lopes of the Universidade de Coimbra, Caroline Kamau of Birkbeck College, and Rusi Jaspal of De Montfort University. They recently published an article in the Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies entitled “Coping With Perceived Abusive Supervision: The Role of Paranoia,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they recount the motivations and innovations of this research.


What motivated you to pursue this research?

Work is an important part of most people’s lives – after all, we spent most of our lives at work and what happens at work can affect us profoundly. We wanted to understand what causes negative cognitions (e.g., paranoia) and maladaptive coping strategies (e.g., workplace deviance) in the workplace. In his 2001 study, Kramer discussed the corporate ethos of neoliberal societies and its potential contribution to paranoia among workers – essentially in order for survival in a cut-throat workplace environment. Yet, there hadn’t been any empirical research that investigated why paranoia arises in the workplace. Our research aimed to fill this gap. Unfortunately, paranoia has been perceived as being a taboo in society for two major reasons: a) paranoia was then considered to be a sign of madness; b) an empirical focus on paranoia could call into question the corporate ethos of organizations – put simply, the increasingly cut-throat workplace environment faced by employees. We hypothesized that paranoia was provoked by the organizational culture itself. Our study shows that paranoid beliefs (i.e. ideas of a conspiracy, ideas of being controlled by external forces and unjustified doubts about the loyalty of others) are quite common and can be shaped by the environmental contexts. This research enables us to inform managers and practitioners about how to intervene effectively at work.

Were there any specific external eventspolitical, social, or economicthat influenced your decision to pursue this research?

The current climate of fear, distrust and insecurity in Western societies associated with the economic crisis has led to a political discourse of increasing control and use of security measures. This has also shaped the workplace environment. The corporate ethos in organizations can challenge workers’ wellbeing and the increasingly common practice of ‘micromanagement’ can lead to increased incidence of paranoia in workers. This can ultimately affect not only their work performance but also their wellbeing. In spite of the political discourse of the last decade positioning employment as the remedy for social, psychological and economic problems, our study set out to show that the workplace itself can induce problems if not managed effectively. Work that is considered to be low paid and insecure and workplace environments that present threats for workers (e.g., abuse and bullying from colleagues and managers) can contribute to the incidence of serious psychiatric problems.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

Ours is the first mixed-methods research to show that an abusive workplace environment can provoke paranoid cognitions that then lead to poor wellbeing and workplace deviance in workers. Paranoia can have social underpinnings. Our research also shows that the perception of supervisory and organizational support in the workplace buffers the negative psychological effects of an abusive workplace environment. Our research provides insight into causation but also presents the tools for improving wellbeing in workers. Organizations can improve workers’ wellbeing and their organizational outcomes by improving the organizational culture and by providing tailored psychological support.


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Successful Practices for Voluntary Innovation Teams Crossing Scientific and Professional Fields


[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Zack Kertcher of the University of Illinois, and Dr. Erica Coslor of the University of Melbourne. They recently published an article in the Journal of Management Inquiry entitled “Boundary Objects and the Technical Culture Divide: Successful Practices for Voluntary Innovation Teams Crossing Scientific and Professional Fields,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they recount the motivations and innovations of this research.

JMI_72ppiRGB_powerpointWhat motivated you to pursue this research


What drew me to this work is my intrigue with a “big” question and an opportunity.

The “big” question

Whether it is “The Web”, “Mobile”, “Cloud Computing,” or most recently “AI,” technology constructs appear to drive much of what we do, and how we think about our work. They also appear to start by being highly interpretable and open to changes, followed by a period in which they are more stable. The latter is when mass adoption occurs. Much less is known about the former stage. How can people from different organizations and fields of practice adopt a new technology that still has an elusive meaning, and yet use it to make a significant impact in their area of work? As this paper shows, while such efforts exhibit distinct challenges, they also show common solutions.

The opportunity

During my graduate program at the University of Chicago, I had the rare opportunity to interact with the innovators and early adopters of exactly this type of technology construct, “Grid Computing.” By many accounts, it paved the way to today’s “Cloud Computing.” The article reports findings from a part of this project that analysed the experience of three teams in three fields of science that tried to adopt “The Grid” to drive change in their fields.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?


The most challenging aspect of this research was its reach. While still being negotiated at the time when I started my research, there were already many adopters of Grid Computing. These adopters spanned hundreds of organizations, running across all continents, and many fields of scientific and commercial practice. To study an evolving construct, it is best to study it up-close from the perspective of participants. However, performing a qualitative study on such a distributed scale was not trivial. I spent several years examining this community. To make things worse, these individuals came from different fields of practice, which meant understanding all perspectives was particularly difficult.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?


This research contributes to the field in two ways:

  1. Innovation management. We examine the development and adoption of “big” technologies from the perspective of the groups working in the trenches to advance these innovations. When successful, such technologies end up impacting our everyday lives. But to be successful, innovators and early adopters need to overcome a set of challenges in how to approach and integrate the new technology into their working practices.
  2. Interdisciplinary collaborations. These collaborations are based on a paradox. On the one hand, interdisciplinary projects are the most innovative, because they involve people with multiple—often radically different—perspectives. But working with such distinct approaches and objectives can be disabling. This paradox is more pronounced when the projects are voluntary and involve an “object” (technology) that is still very much open to interpretation, as was the case here.



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Team Photo attributed to Free-Photos  (CC)

I Lost My Baby Today: Embodied Writing and Learning in Organizations.

[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Ilaria Boncori of the University of Essex and Dr. Charlotte Smith of University of Leicester.  They recently published an article in Management Learning entitled “I lost my baby today: Embodied writing and learning in organizations” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they reflect on the motivation for this article.

mlqb_48_3.coverWhen we first saw the Management Learning call for papers for a special issue on Writing Differently we were genuinely excited at the prospect of reading scholarly contributions that embraced difference and dared to step away from rigid journal article boundaries. We have known each other around a decade and trudged through the completion of our PhDs together. We remain close friends to this day who enjoy chatting and wondering about research ideas over good sushi. It was on one of those occasions after reading the call that it dawned on us – we could be brave and write differently. If we are honest, we were a little frightened but together we managed to contain our anxieties and we couldn’t have been more delighted at the positive, sympathetic and heartful comments that we received after our submission.

We were motivated about the prospect of trying to write differently and develop our skillset as writers and scholars doing so, but we also knew Ilaria had a very difficult story to tell about losing her baby. Writing the paper was hard for Ilaria in working through her emotions but when asking Charlie to come on board she explained how she also wanted to address a very significant issue that affects many women. Why are our bodies silenced in organizations when they talk about uncomfortable realities such as death, miscarriage, menopause, self-harming, illnesses and so on?

So we decided to go for it, and Ilaria shared her autoethnographic story, hoping that it may be well received and actually get published. Having a friend as co-author made this easier. Another mitigating factor to the fear of exposure was that the point of the article was not the story in itself, it was about daring to write differently through ethnographic text that is embodied, emotional and drenched in lived experience.

The idea for this specific paper also came from our need to break away from what the field recognizes as acceptable mainstream criteria of reading and writing organizations. The language, the content and the style that currently reign supreme are, to us, examples of patriarchal hegemonic perspectives that silence the body, the dirty, the messy, the unconventional and the lived experience that makes us who we are and what we are able to do in organizations.

We therefore retained some form of canonic academic papers (such as an engagement with the literature and a methodological note), but very clearly decided to subvert praxis in terms of content (miscarriage) and style in writing an evocative autoethnographic account. We also challenged the conventions of multi-authored autoethnographic research in that the experience told in our article belongs to only one author, while the other acts as the listener, the critical friend, the academic comforter.

Sharing very personal stories through autoethnography is scary because one’s intimate life is exposed in an uncommon way for traditional understandings of organization studies, and is therefore more fragile and open to criticism that gets too personal to be professional. Nonetheless, we advocate the use of such narratives and writing differently to challenge and resist the dominant masculine discourse in academia through methodological and stylistic changes to our writing, because personal, fragile and reflexive narratives can enhance the understanding of lived experiences in organizations. We are acutely aware that we couldn’t have developed our work without the support and comments of our editors and reviewers who both believed in us and let us work with them without the constraints of normalized and overtly formulaic review processes.

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Exploratory Neural Reactions to Framed Advertisement Messages of Smoking Cessation

[Dr. Dong Yang of I-Shou University recently published an article in Social Marketing Quarterly titled “Exploratory Neural Reactions to Framed Advertisement Messages of Smoking Cessation.” We are pleased to welcome Dr. Yang as a contributor and happy to announce that the findings will be free to access on our site for a limited time. Also, further insights regarding inspiration behind the research, as well as additional information not included in the final publication, are available below.]

SMQ_20_2_C1 & C5.inddSeveral measurement problems were found from previous survey research by using questionnaires. For example, respondents usually answered items to match researchers’ intention or social norms unconsciously, especially when respondents had difficulties to read and understand questionnaires. According to the inspiration of the latest development of medical engineering and relevant research about advertising effectiveness measuring by the eye tracker, this study applies brainwave instruments for exploring social and neural marketing. The most difficult part of experimental manipulation is how to measure needed data effectively while subjects respond in a natural environment without controls. Owing to smokers agreed to assist this study tried to take off the brainwave instruments to end the measuring process as they faced negatively framed fear appeals, it is possible that they may stop to watch the whole negatively framed smoking cessation advertising under true natural surroundings.

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How Do You Stop a Patient From Falling Again?

doctor-with-tablet-1461913089jcx.jpg[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Joseph Allen of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Dr. Roni Reiter-Palmon of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Dr. Victoria Kennel of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and Dr. Katherine Jones of the University of Nebraska at Omaha. They recently published an article in the Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies entitled “Group and Organizational Safety Norms Set the Stage for Good Post-Fall Huddles,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Allen recounts the motivations and innovations of this research.

JLOS_72ppiRGB_powerpointThe research in this paper was motivated by both personal interest and practical need in the healthcare field. Specifically, many of the researchers have had families or witnessed themselves instances where patients fell, were injured, and their recovery was impacted by that fall. Further, there is a general and practical need in healthcare to attend to and reduce the frequency of falls at in-patient facilities. As the population ages, the demand upon healthcare facilities only grows, and so the reduction of process of care created injury or illness is essential to providing care to everyone in need. That is, we need to get people in, treat them effectively, and help them transition back to full functioning without lengthening their stay with needless falls or other injuries/issues.

Given that motivation, the research here is particularly meaningful and innovative because it highlights an interesting dilemma in the implementation of best practices for improved patient well-being and care. Specifically, this study showed that having a good organizational safety climate/culture makes it more likely leaders will engage in the desired behaviors and lead effective post-fall huddles, compared to leaders in less positive organizational safety climate/culture. In other words, those who are already aware of the need to do things to keep patient and employee safe as they work together will more readily adopt new and innovative practices to promote that safety. This study supports the need to “set the stage” before implementing new things related to safety.

Additionally, it tells a somewhat scary truth about safety intervention implementation. Organizations who already buy into, support, and foster safety related practices are more effective and probably more likely to succeed at implementing new interventions. Organizations who do not buy into, support, and foster safety related practices do not benefit as much from attempting to implement new and innovative interventions. In other words, the safe get safer and the unsafe may not get much safer over time.

Bottom-line, stay healthy and be judicious in your decisions about where to receive your healthcare.

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Doctor Photo attributed to Free-Photos (CC)

The Fair Process Effect in the Classroom

silhouette-3267887_960_720.png[We’re pleased to welcome authors Thomas M. Tripp of Washington State University, Lixin Jiang of the University of Auckland, Kristine Olson of Dixie State University, and Maja Graso of the University of Otago. They recently published an article in the Journal of Management Education entitled “The Fair Process Effect in the Classroom: Reducing the Influence of Grades on Student Evaluations of Teachers“, which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Tripp recounts the motivation for this research.]


As a justice scholar, I’ve been studying workplace and consumer revenge for some time now.  As some kind of revenge “expert,” my colleagues often ask me what kinds of revenge exist in the classroom, specifically how students might get even with instructors.  Before I usually can answer, faculty quickly comment that, obviously, students get even with instructors for low, “unfair” grades by giving their instructors lower scores on the end-of-course student evaluations of teaching (SET).  Moreover, the same faculty lament that this effect must be large, and that there is nothing they can do about it, other than to grade more leniently.  This, apparently, is the common wisdom.  My coauthors, Lixin Jiang, Kristine Olson and Maja Graso, and I thought we should test this common wisdom.

We began the test first by examining what the actual correlation is between students’ grades and the SETs they complete.  At my business school, we looked at every SET in every course over three years.  The correlation between SET and grades (actually, the grade students expect to receive when they complete the SET at the end of the term) was only r = .22.  Much smaller than common wisdom suggested.  But that was just one sample, so we read the vast literate on grades and SET to find that this correlation was at the low end – typically such correlations range from .10 to as high as .47.

Given that the correlation is real, what can instructors do about it?  The justice literature in the management field offered an idea.  Specifically, a well-replicated finding in organizations is that employees don’t react negatively to bad and “unfair” outcomes (e.g., being denied a promotion, a lower than expected raise) as long as they perceive the decision-making processes (e.g., how management decides to give raises and promotions) to be fair.  This phenomenon is known as the “fair process effect.”  Given the robustness of the fair process effect in the organizational setting, we wondered if it would work in the classroom setting.  Specifically, we hypothesized and tested whether students would not get even with instructors on SETs for low grades, as long as the students perceived that their instructors used fair grading processes, such as following their own syllabi, using grading rubrics, and grading blindly.

This is exactly what we found.  When students perceived that their instructors used fair grading processes, the correlation between grades and SET was eliminated (in our sample); conversely, when students perceived that instructors used unfair grading processes, the correlation was amplified.

We hope this finding is useful.  We think that as long as instructors use transparently fair procedures in their courses, they need not fear the grades-SET association, and therefore they need not react superficially to pressure for maintaining high teaching evaluations, such as by grading more leniently.  Instead, instructors may confidently give students the grades they deserve.

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Scale Photo attributed to Free-Photos (CC)