Profiling Employee Time Bandits: Weasels, Mercenaries, Sandbaggers, and Parasites

8562416557_4eb71bbab7_zNothing is more counterproductive for organizations than when employees use work time to engage in non-task-related activities. That said, time banditry is widespread and sometimes difficult for organizations prevent. A recent article published in Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, entitled “Time Banditry and Impression Management Behavior: Prediction and Profiling of Time Bandit Types,” authors Meagan E. Brock Baskin, Victoria McKee, and M. Ronald Buckley investigate the characteristics of time bandits. Their paper outlines situational and dispositional variables that can help predict the four time bandit types–the weasel, the mercenary, the sandbagger, and the parasite. The abstract for the article:

Time banditry recently has been introduced as a distinct construct in the JLOcounterproductive work behavior literature. Employees are engaged in time banditry when they pursue non–task-related activities during work time. We posit that they capitalize on the ambiguity in most work environments to manage impressions that their time banditry behavior really is productive and not counterproductive work behavior. In this investigation, two studies were conducted to explore variables that can be used to classify time bandits into four different categories. Discriminant function analysis was used to determine individual-level and job-level factors that classify time bandits. Results revealed that both situational and dispositional variables can be used to predict time bandit type. Suggestions for future research and implications for managing, reducing, and changing time banditry behaviors are discussed.

Interested in reading more and finding out what kind of time bandit you are? You can read “Time Banditry and Impression Management Behavior: Prediction and Profiling Time Bandit Types” from Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies free for the next two weeks by clicking here.

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*Post-it prank image attributed to Michael Arrighi (CC)

The Impact of Employee Experience on Productivity and Firm Innovation: A Study of Italy’s Slowdown

parma emiliaromagna italy europe piazza in the city of parma

[We’re pleased to welcome Francesco Daveri and Maria Laura Parisi. Francesco and Maria recently published an article in ILR Review entitled “Experience, Innovation, and Productivity: Empirical Evidence from Italy’s Slowdown.”]

Italy has been on a declining growth path well before the current crisis. We see this as the unfortunate combination of policy and managerial habits. On the policy side, a string of partial labor market reforms at the end of the 1990s  made inexperienced–hence less productive–workers enter the labor market. On the managerial side, a long-run feature of Italy’s corporate world is its seniority-based system of managerial selection. Evidence shows that senior conservative managers took advantage of cheap unskilled workers as a way to cut costs. This trend, however, also made a dent on the innovation and productivity performance of Italian companies.

The abstract for the paper:

The authors investigate whether the level of employee experience is good or bad for innovation and productivity. Using a sample of Italian manufacturing firms during the early 2000s, the authors find different results for managers’ versus workers’ experience. The ILR_72ppiRGB_powerpointeffect of managerial experience—proxied by age—on firm performance appears to depend on the type of firm; in innovative firms, having older managers and board members has a negative effect on innovation and productivity, while in non-innovative firms, the costs and benefits of having older managers appear to cancel each other out. For workers, the effect of having a high share of inexperienced (temporary) workers is unambiguously associated with low innovation and low productivity. These results also hold when endogenous regime switching is taken into consideration.

You can read “Experience, Innovation, and Productivity: Empirical Evidence from Italy’s Slowdown” from ILR Review free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know about the latest research from ILR Review? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Parma image credited to Mark Goebel (CC)

Francesco Daveri is Professor of Economic Policy at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Piacenza.

Maria Laura Parisi is Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Brescia.

Management Practices: Complementarity is the Key

[We’re pleased to welcome Arthur Grimes of Motu Economic and Policy Research and University 16296308759_8149d18c99_zof Auckland. Arthur recently published an article in ILR Review entitled “The ‘Suite’ Smell of Success: Personnel Practices and Firm Performance” with co-author Richard Fabling of Motu Economic and Policy Research.]

Throughout the world, we see firms in the same industry in the same country having very different productivity outcomes. We have long been fascinated in why this is the case, and whether management can do anything to place their firm in the top quartile of performers within their industry.

It turns out that management practices are key to firms’ productivity outcomes. But the key is not a simplistic application of performance pay or any other single management practice to the firm; a holistic approach is required. Recent analysis ILR_72ppiRGB_powerpointbased on longitudinal data for New Zealand firms across all sectors of the economy, shows that having in place a suite of complementary high-performance management practices can raise productivity by over 10% for firms that are in the top quartile of management practices. This is the case for firms in manufacturing, services and other sectors. The suite of management practices includes having processes for staff consultation, clear firm values, performance reviews coupled with performance pay, room for autonomous staff decision-making and staff training opportunities.  What this means for firms is that there are no ‘magic-bullet’ management practices that can be introduced quickly to transform most firms. Management need to introduce a comprehensive suite of management practices if they wish to raise their productivity to be in the top rung of firms.

The abstract from the paper:

The authors use a panel of more than 1,500 New Zealand firms, from a diverse range of industries, to examine how the adoption of human resource management (HRM) practices affects firm performance. The panel is based on managerial responses to mandatory surveys of management practices in 2001 and 2005 administered by the national statistical office, linked to objective longitudinal firm performance data. The authors find that, after controlling for time-invariant firm characteristics and changes in a wide range of business practices and firm developments, a suite of general HRM practices has a positive impact on firm labor and multifactor productivity. Conversely, these practices tend to have no effect on profitability, in part because the adoption of performance pay systems raises average wages in the firm.

You can read “The ‘Suite’ Smell of Success: Personnel Practices and Firm Performance” from ILR Review free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from ILR ReviewClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Meeting image credited to Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken (CC)

Meetings and Team Management: Are traditional meetings still relevant in today’s tech-driven world?

Bus and MgmtNot for nothing are so many “Dilbert” comic strips set in meetings. Notorious for wasting  time, dulling motivation and draining creativity, meetings are widely seen as a necessary evil—one poll found that 46 percent of Americans prefer almost any “unpleasant activity” over a meeting. Not surprisingly, managers are trying to reinvent meetings to make them more productive and to meet the changing needs of a 21st-century economy. Technology and startup companies are experimenting with meeting formats and lengths, and some established organizations are following suit. And as staffs become more diverse, managers and researchers say meeting3946708876_2d75a7d26d_z dynamics must include more points of view, communication styles and ways of arriving at decisions. Some experts agree that new technologies may help solve many problems associated with routine meetings. Yet others say that changing corporate culture is more important. Among the questions under debate: Is technology fundamentally changing the nature of meetings? Are planned meetings better than spontaneous meetings? Can women be heard in meetings?

Joanne Cleaver, a freelance writer who has covered business for numerous publications, has written an in-depth report for SAGE Business Researcher on the relevance of traditional meetings in the modern business world. Below is an excerpt from her report:

As the pace of business accelerates, managers are trying to reinvent meetings. Technology and startup companies are experimenting with meeting formats and lengths, and some established organizations are adopting the resulting new practices. The emergence of the flat corporate structure (i.e., few bosses overseeing an army of self-directed, self-managing staff) appears to be diametrically opposed to traditional meeting culture. And as staffs become more diverse in terms of gender, generation and ethnicity, managers and researchers say meeting dynamics must adapt to include more points of view, more styles of communication and more ways of arriving at decisions.

This change is sending stress fractures through long-standing meeting culture and assumptions. From intern orientations to board of director assemblies, many meetings are happening in different ways, with different players, for different reasons.

Workers typically loathe meetings because they appear to wick away the one thing no one can make more of: time. For 18 percent of Americans, a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles is a more appealing way to spend time than attending a “status” meeting – a prototypical form of meeting in which attendees update each other on the progress of various projects, according to a survey released in 2015 by software company Clarizen.[1]

You can read the full report free for the next two weeks by clicking here. If you would like more information about SAGE Business Researcher, please click here.

[1] “Clarizen Survey: Workers Consider Status Meetings a Productivity-Killing Waste of Time,” Clarizen, Jan. 22, 2015,

Short-Term Incentives, Long-Term Success?

Do short-term incentives really work to motivate employees? Jennifer E. Wynter-Palmer of the University of Technology/Jamaica Institute of Management examined the debate and its implications in her article “Is the Use of Short-Term Incentives Good Organization Strategy?,” published in the Compensation & Benefits Review September/October 2012 issue:

CBR_42_1_72ppiRGB_150pixWThis article is based on research conducted on Jamaica’s hotel industry. The study sought to determine if there are any advantages to both employers and employees in use of short-term incentives in that industry. Using theories of motivation and the concepts governing incentive compensation to construct a theoretical framework, the article sought to make the link between short-term incentives, motivation and employee productivity. The debate by both academicians and human resource practitioners is about the right types as well as the right mix of workplace motivators. It is acknowledged that there are strong arguments on all sides. This article seeks to add to the academic debate by advancing that what is critical is that (a) the need for employee motivation should not be viewed as optional but must be fully appreciated, planned and implemented thoughtfully by employers; and (b) the motivational processes used will be influenced by the thinking of an organization’s leadership team as well as the culture of the organization. It is posited for this discussion that where organizations are on a quest to improve workforce productivity, their employees need to be motivated by a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. In turn, the right types and levels of motivation will lead to employees performing at the desired levels.

Click here to continue reading, and browse the current issue of CBR by clicking here.

Does Privacy Make Us Productive?

Modern-day organizations increasingly are seeking to create an “open” work environment—one that makes workers more observable—theorizing that transparency boosts performance. But a new study in Administrative Science Quarterly (ASQ) finds this trend may be counterproductive.

Ethan S. Bernstein of Harvard University published “The Transparency Paradox: A Role for Privacy in Organizational Learning and Operational Control” on June 21, 2012 in ASQ.  Recognizing the prevalence of the trend in factories, the author provides field-based evidence that transparency is not “such a panacea” and makes a strong case for preserving worker privacy in the interest of productivity:

We typically assume that the more we can see, the more we can understand about an organization. This research suggests a counteracting force: the more that can be seen, the more individuals may respond strategically with hiding behavior and encryption to nullify the understanding of that which is seen.

Read the full article in ASQ by clicking here. To learn more about Administrative Science Quarterly, please follow this link.

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