University of Southern California

News and Events

Cheryl Wakslak and Albert Han (with Pamela Smith) just had a paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: "Using Abstract Language Signals Power."

Power can be gained through appearances: People who exhibit behavioral signals of power are often treated in a way that allows them to actually achieve such power (Ridgeway, Berger, & Smith, 1985; Smith & Galinsky, 2010). In the current paper we examine power signals within interpersonal communication, exploring whether use of concrete versus abstract language is seen as a signal of power. Since power activates abstraction (e.g., Smith & Trope, 2006), perceivers may expect higher-power individuals to speak more abstractly and therefore will infer that speakers who use more abstract language have a higher degree of power. Across a variety of contexts and conversational subjects in six experiments, participants perceived respondents as more powerful when they used more abstract language (versus more concrete language). Abstract language use appears to affect perceived power because it seems to reflect both a willingness to judge and a general style of abstract thinking. (03/05/2014)

John Boudreau is becoming a regular on Larry Mantle's Airtalk on 89.3 KPCC. He is slated to be on the air tomorrow, Tuesday March 4, from 11:45 am to 12:10 pm. (03/03/2014)

Nate Fast was just selected to the Poets&Quants' list of The 40 Most Outstanding B-School Profs Under 40 In The World: These rising stars, who represent elite schools from around the globe, excel in both research and the classroom. They were chosen from nominations by business-school officials, faculty, students, and alumni. (02/12/2014)

Vern Glaser has accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Strategic Management & Organization at the University of Alberta School of Business. The University of Alberta is one of Canada's leading research-intensive institutions with over 38,000 students. Vern joins a renowned community of management scholars in the likes of Dev Jennings, Bob Hinings, Royston Greenwood, Mike Lounsbury, and Roy Suddaby. (02/11/2014)

Sarah Townsend¹s research on how to lower stress was recently cited on CNN and in the Huffington Post, the Daily Trojan, and USC News:!/article/58615/are-you-feeling-their-stress-too/ (02/08/2014)

In separate stories, our own John Boudreau and Scott Wiltermuth had great visibility on Larry Mantle's Airtalk. John discussed hiring techniques –how companies are using games and intelligence tests to hire and how these are being perceived as more effective and efficient than multiple rounds of interviews Scott commented on journalist Steven Glass' deception and his efforts to attend law school (01/27/2014)
Scott Wiltermuth's research on ethical transgressions was highlighted yesterday in the Los Angeles Times:,0,5732846.story#axzz2qgizttyx. (01/08/2014)

Paul Adler has been invited to give the 19th annual Clarendon Lectures in Management Studies in 2015 at the Said Business School, Oxford. His lectures will be published in a book from Oxford University Press. This is quite an honor. Paul joins a distinguished group of former Clarendon Lecture scholars including David Teese, Manuel Castells, Ron Burt, Woody Powell, Bruno Latour, Clayton Christensen, Joel Podolny, and Kathy Eisenhardt. (12/04/2013)

Cheryl Wakslak (with Yaacov Trope from NYU) was awarded an NSF grant for $450,000 over three years (split between USC and NYU). The grant will help fund her research on "Learning from Near and Distant Others" (summary attached). (12/02/2013)

Yongzhi (Alex) Wang passed his doctoral qualifying exam this afternoon. His committee was comprised of Nandini Rajagopalan (Chair), Nan Jia, Lori Yue, Gerry Tellis (Marketing), and Cheng Hsiao (Economics). Congratulations Alex. Now on to the work/fun of doing a dissertation! (11/25/2013)

Cheryl Wakslak (with Jennifer Mueller, University of San Diego and Vish Krishnan, University of California, San Diego) recently had a paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology: "Construing creativity: The how and why of recognizing creative ideas."

While prior theory proposes that domain knowledge is the main factor that determines creativity assessments, we provide theory and evidence to suggest that situational factors can also alter what people view as creative. Specifically, we test the notion that one's current construal-level can shift what people perceive as creative. We employ three studies manipulating construal in two ways (i.e., with spatial distance and construal level mindset priming) to show that people with low-level and high-level construal orientations differ in creativity assessments of the same idea. We further show that low- and high-level construals do not alter perceptions of ideas low in creativity, and that uncertainty sometimes mediates the relationship between construal level priming and creativity assessments of an examined idea. These findings shed light on why people desire but often reject creativity, and suggest practical solutions to help organizations (e.g., journals, government agencies, venture capitalists) spot creative ideas. (11/20/2013)

Gerry Tellis (joint with Marketing) has a new article published in the Journal of Retailing: "To Whom, When and How Much to Discount? A Constrained Optimization of Customized Temporal Discounts."

Customized temporal discounts are price cuts or coupons that are tailored by size, timing, and household to maximize profits to a retailer or manufacturer. The authors show how such discounts allow companies to optimize to whom, when, and how much to discount. Such a scheme allows firms to send just enough discounts just prior to the individual's purchase of a rival brand. To do so, the authors model household purchase timing and brand choice in response to discounts and use Bayesian estimation to obtain individual household parameters. They illustrate the model on a Japanese data set having price cuts, a US data set having coupons, and another US data set having discounts. They formulate the optimization task of customized temporal coupons as a constrained multiple-knapsack problem under a given budget. They use simulations of the empirical contexts to obtain optimal solutions and to assess improvement in profits relative to existing practice and alternate models in the literature. The proposed model yields increase in profits of 18–40 percent relative to a standard model that optimizes the value but not timing of discounts. (11/19/2013)

The forthcoming December 2013 issue of Administrative Science Quarterly should be dedicated to MOR. Two of the five articles are by Sun Park and by Lori Yue respectively, both first authored.

Social Discrimination in the Corporate Elite: How Status Affects the Propensity for Minority CEOs to Receive Blame for Low Firm Performance

Sun Hyun Park and James D. Westphal
Administrative Science Quarterly 2013;58 542-586

Information Spillovers from Protests against Corporations: A Tale of Walmart and Target
Lori Qingyuan Yue, Hayagreeva Rao, and Paul Ingram
Administrative Science Quarterly 2013;58 669-701 (11/16/2013)

Carl Voigt was honored with the Steven B. Sample Teaching and Mentoring Award. This award is given by the USC Parents Association and is the only faculty recognition award that is initiated by Trojan parents and family members. (11/15/2013)

Adam Wood successfully defended his dissertation today: The Cost of a Poker-Face: Consequences of Self-Regulation on Emotion Recognition and Interpersonal Perception.

Good going to his committee chair, Scott Wiltermuth, and his committee members, Tom Cummings and Stephen Read (Psychology Department). (10/23/2013)

Scott Wiltermuth (with Rebecca Schaumberg) had a paper accepted for publication in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes: "Desire for a positive moral self-regard exacerbates escalation of commitment to initiatives that benefit others."

Across three experiments, people escalated commitment more frequently to a failing prosocial initiative (i.e., an initiative that had the primary aim of improving the outcomes of others in need) than they did to a failing egoistic initiative (i.e., an initiative that had the primary aim of improving the outcomes of the decision-maker). A test of mediation (Study 1b) and a test of moderation (Study 2) each provided evidence that the desire for a positive moral self-regard underlies people's tendency to escalate commitment more frequently to failing prosocial initiatives than to failing egoistic initiatives. We discuss the implications of these findings for the resource-allocation decisions that people and organizations face when undertaking initiatives with prosocial aims. (10/28/2013)

Sun Park (with Jim Westphal) has a paper accepted for publication in Administrative Science Quarterly: "Social Discrimination in the Corporate Elite How Status Affects the Propensity for Minority CEOs to Receive Blame for Low Firm Performance."

This study examines social discrimination in the attributions that top executives make about the performance of other firms with minority CEOs in their communications with journalists. Drawing from the literatures on intergroup relations and status competition, our theory suggests how out-group biases and negative forms of envy toward higher-status minority CEOs may increase the propensity for white male CEOs to make negative or internal attributions for the low performance of the minority CEOs' firms. We also examine how CEOs' internal attributions in conversations with journalists increase the tendency for those journalists to attribute performance to internal causes in reporting on the minority CEOs' firms. We consider how the gender and race of journalists could moderate the influence of CEOs' performance attributions on journalists' reports, such that female or racial minority journalists would be less easily persuaded by white male CEOs' internal attributions for the low performance of firms with female or racial minority CEOs, and thus less prone to issuing negative statements about the CEOs' leadership. Empirical analyses based on original survey data from a large sample of CEOs and journalists provided strong support for our hypotheses. We discuss implications of the findings for theory and research on social discrimination in the corporate elite and social psychological determinants of corporate leader reputation. (10/29/2013)

Ed Lawler and John Boudreau were among HR Magazine's 2013 Top Ten Most Influential International Thinkers (11/05/2013)

Warren Bennis was inducted into the Thinkers50 Hall of Fame. Thinkers50 is the premier ranking of global business thinkers, with an annual ranking of the top 50 management thinkers. The newly-created Hall of Fame celebrates the key business thinkers of our times. Warren is joined as an inaugural member of the Thinkers50 Hall of Fame by Chris Argyris, Howard Gardner, Charles Handy, Robert Kaplan & David Norton, Philip Kotler, Henry Mintzberg, Kenichi Ohmae, Ikujiro Nonaka, and Tom Peters. (11/09/2013)

Marshall's new program, the Master of Business for Veterans (MBV), recently started under the capable leadership of Bob Turrill, the MBV Faculty Director. The Program, which has enrolled 39 veterans, was recently highlighted by CNBC: (about the 1:48 mark). The MBV's Associate Director, Jim Bogle (Retired Lt. Col. U.S. Army), who was introduced at our October MOR Retreat, had an article yesterday (Veterans' Day) in the Los Angeles Business Journal (attached). It underscores the key role that veterans can play in business and society. (11/12/2013)

Scott Wiltermuth and Victor Bennett (with J. Lamar Pierce) had a paper accepted for publication in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes: "Doing as They Would Do: How the Perceived Ethical Preferences of Third-Party Beneficiaries Impact Ethical Decision-Making." (10/09/2013)

Shon Hiatt's paper (with Wesley Sine), "Manu militari: New venture ties to coercive institutions in emerging economies," won the Best Paper Award at the recent 2013 Leadership for Peace and Prosperity Conference in San Diego.

In many countries with weak political institutions, new ventures face challenges such as political risks, corruption, and civil conflict, which can severely hinder their ability to survive and grow. Building upon the literature on new-venture ties, we explore how establishing affiliations at founding with coercive institutional actors affect new venture survival in contexts characterized by weak political institutions and volatile environments. Our findings suggest that founding affiliations with elite military actors reduce the likelihood of two types of exits: failure and expropriation. Such ties also moderate the negative impact of high levels of institutional violence and corruption on organizational failure and expropriation. We discuss the implications of these findings for research on organizational ties, institutional theory, nonmarket strategy, and entrepreneurship. (10/07/2013)

At the recent Strategic Management Society Annual Conference in Atlanta, GA, Victor Bennett's (with Rob Seamans & Feng Zhu) paper, "Value Appropriation, Search Frictions, and Secondary Markets," won the SMS Best Conference Paper Prize for Practice Implications as well as receiving Honorable Mention (Top 5) for the SMS Best Conference Paper Award. (10/06/2013)

John Boudreau was recently presented with the 2013 Michael R. Losey Human Resource Research Award for lifetime achievement in human resource research. The Losey Award is given by the Society for Human Resource Management and is the highest accolade for a scholar in HR. John joins the elite company of such former award winners as Wayne Cascio, Sara Rynes, Ed Lawler, Gary Latham, Ben Schneider, and Frank Schmidt. (10/04/2013)

Sarah Townsend (with Heejung S. Kim, University of California, Santa Barbara and Batja Mesquita, University of Leuven, Belgium) had a paper accepted for publication in Social Psychological and Personality Science: "Are you Feeling what I'm Feeling? Emotional Similarity Buffers Stress."

We examine the idea that it is beneficial for people in threatening situations to affiliate with others who are experiencing similar, relative to dissimilar, emotions. Pairs of participants waited together and then engaged in a laboratory stressor (i.e., giving a speech). We created an index of each pair's emotional similarity using participants' emotional states. We also measured how threatening participants perceived the speech task to be (i.e., whether they had high versus low dispositional fear of public speaking). We hypothesized that perceiving greater threat in the situation would be associated with greater stress, but interacting with someone who is emotionally similar would buffer individuals from this heightened stress. Confirming our hypotheses, greater initial dyadic emotional similarity was associated with a reduced cortisol response and lower reported stress among participants who feared public speaking. (09/30/2013)

Gerry Tellis (joint with MKT) and Gaia Rubera (Bocconi) had a paper accepted in the Strategic Management Journal: "Spinoffs Versus Buyouts: Profitability of Alternate Routes to Commercializing Innovations."

This research compares the profitability of two alternate innovation-related divestitures: spinoffs and buyouts. Innovation-related divestitures are units created with the intent of better developing and marketing innovations in new or existing markets. We study the profitability of spinoffs' and buyouts' in the short and medium term using longitudinal data on 126 spinoffs and 102 buyouts over 5 years. The main findings are: First, spinoffs and buyouts have similar profits in the first two years after divestiture; afterwards buyouts have much higher profits than spinoffs. Second, strategic emphasis or the investment in R&D versus marketing, is the central, causal mechanism that explains the profitability of spinoffs' and buyouts' over time. Third, divestiture type influences performance through two routes: a one-step mediated effect via strategic emphasis; and a two-step mediated effect via strategic emphasis and radicalness. The two routes have opposite effects on performance. Fourth, under debt-holders' pressure to maximize immediate returns, buyouts start their life with a strict emphasis on marketing investments at the expense of R&D investments. On the contrary, in the absence of such pressure, spinoffs initially emphasize R&D over marketing more than buyouts. The critical difference between the two divestiture types emerges from the third year on. While spinoffs' strategic emphasis remains stable, buyouts gradually emphasize R&D over marketing increasingly over the years as they repay their debt. (09/27/2013)

Peter Carnevale and Celso de Melo (Postdoctoral Researcher in MOR) have a paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: "Reading People's Minds from Emotion Expressions in Interdependent Decision Making."

How do people make inferences about other people's minds from their emotion displays? The ability to infer others' beliefs, desires and intentions from their facial expressions should be especially important in interdependent decision making when people make decisions from beliefs about the others' intention to cooperate. Five experiments tested the general proposition that people follow principles of appraisal when making inferences from emotion displays, in context. Experiment 1 found that the same emotion display produced opposite effects depending on context: when the other was competitive, a smile on the other's face evoked a more negative response than when the other was cooperative. Experiment 2 found that the essential information from emotion displays was derived from appraisals (e.g., is the current state-of-affairs conducive to my goals? Who is to blame for it?); facial displays of emotion had the same impact on people's decision making as textual expressions of the corresponding appraisals. Experiments 3, 4 and 5 used multiple mediation analyses and a causal-chain design: Results supported the proposition that beliefs about others' appraisals mediate the effects of emotion displays on expectations about others' intentions. We suggest a model based on appraisal theories of emotion that posits an inferential mechanism whereby people retrieve, from emotion expressions, information about others' appraisals, which then lead to inferences about others' mental states. This work has implications for the design of algorithms that drive agent behavior in human-agent strategic interaction, an emerging domain at the interface of computer science and social psychology. (09/25/2013)

Yong Paik and Heejin Woo have a paper accepted for publication in Managerial and Decision Economics: "Economic Downturn and Financing Innovative Startup Companies."

This study examines how fluctuations in the amount of capital flowing into venture funds affect the financing of innovative startup companies and how economic downturns affect such financing. We argue that the nature of the economic downturn can cause differential effects on the investment pattern. We find that venture capital firms invest more in early-stage companies than in later-stage companies when the amount of capital flowing into the market increases. We also find that venture capital firms invest less in early-stage companies than in later-stage companies during an economic downturn associated with the real sector and that they invest more in early-stage companies than in later-stage companies during an economic downturn associated with the financial sector. This study contributes to the entrepreneurship literature by demonstrating how macroeconomic factors affect venture capital investment decisions. The study also delineates the implications of seeking market entry via venture capital financing by entrepreneurial companies. (09/23/2013)

Yong Paik was presented with the Distinguished Reviewer Award by the Entrepreneurship Division of the Academy of Management at the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management in Orlando, FL this past August. (09/20/2013)

Nan Jia (with Yuen Yuen Ang from U. of Michigan) have a paper accepted for publication by the Journal of Politics: "Perverse Complementarity: Political Connections and the Use of Courts Among Private Firms in China."

Using survey data of over 3,900 private firms in China, we examine whether – and how – political connections promote or undermine the use of formal legal institutions. We find that politically connected firms are more inclined than non-connected firms to use courts over informal avenues of dispute resolution. Furthermore, by comparing the effects of political connections on dispute resolution patterns across regional institutional environments, we find that "know-who" (political influence over adjudication) dominates "know-how" (knowledge of navigating courts) in linking political connections to the use of courts. Contrary to canonical theories that predict the declining significance of connections following the expansion of courts, our study suggests that informal networks and formal laws are more likely to share a relationship of perverse complementarity in transitional and authoritarian contexts. Political connections are positively linked to the use of legal procedures, and the primary mechanism behind the link is "know-who" over "know-how."

Nan would like to acknowledge the funding from the Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at USC for support of this research. (09/15/2013)

Nandini Rajagopalan and Luis Diestre (Asst. Prof at IE Madrid, Spain and MOR doctoral alum) had a paper accepted for publication at the Academy of Management Journal: "Toward an input-based perspective on categorization: Investor reactions to chemical accidents."

We build on the literature on categorization to develop and test a model of input-level spillover effects. Our model predicts that when one firm suffers an accident with an input, investors will punish other users of that input by discounting their stocks, and the magnitude of this negative spillover can be predicted by the non-responsible firm's level of input usage. We also hypothesize that the magnitude of the punishment will be moderated by intermediaries' assessments of the input: ex-ante regulatory sanctions on the input will amplify negative spillovers, while the presence of input-level associations will weaken these effects. Finally, we predict that similarity between the responsible and non-responsible firm on two peripheral attributes—input-portfolio and geographic location—will amplify the negative effect of input usage. We find strong support for our predictions in an event study that examines the stock market valuations of 270 non-responsible manufacturing firms triggered by 78 industrial accidents with a toxic chemical. We highlight our study's theoretical and empirical contributions to the categorization and spillover literatures. (09/14/2013)

Sarah Bonner (joint with Accounting) has been named to hold the Ernst and Young, LLP Professor of Accounting. Sarah's scholarly accomplishments are well known and her teaching, service, and mentoring to junior faculty and doctoral students are outstanding. The Ernst and Young Professorship is Leventhal's oldest, and Sarah is only the third faculty member to hold the title. (06/28/2013)

Paul Adler has been elected to the Academy of Management Fellows. This is quite an honor and attests to Paul's scholarly prominence in our field (the Fellows includes less than one percent of the AOM membership). Paul joins current MOR members of the AOM Fellows, Ed Lawler, Janet Fulk, and Tom Cummings, and former MOR Fellows members, Ian Mitroff, Steve Kerr, Mary Ann Von Glinow, and Jay Galbraith. (06/23/2013)

Priyanka Joshi received the 2013 James D. Ford Fellowship. The Marshall School gives this award annually to a third year Ph.D. student who has passed the qualifying exam and who has exceled in scholastic performance. (05/30/2013)

Peter Carnevale was initiated into Phi Kappa Phi, the oldest and largest collegiate honor society with members from every academic field. Phi Kappa Phi is also the oldest honor society at the University of Southern California, established in 1924 with a mission of promoting excellence in all academic endeavors. The USC Chapter each year elects a few outstanding faculty chosen on the basis of their academic record, professional achievements, and exemplary service to higher education. (05/15/2013)

Nate Fast and Scott Wiltermuth passed their 4th Year Reviews with flying colors. Their PEGs, the MOR tenured faculty, the Marshall Personnel Committee, and the Dean of Faculty all praised their teaching, research, and service as exemplary of what we expect from young scholars who are well on their way to successful careers in the management field. (04/23/2013)

Gerry Tellis (joint Marketing) has been honored with a 2013 USC Mellon Mentoring Award for mentoring post-doctoral students. Gerry has sponsored and mentored about 15 PhD or post-doctoral students, all of them from abroad representing 10 different countries. (04/18/2013)

Nate Fast received a 2013 Greif Center Faculty Research Award and Heejin Woo was honored with the 2013 Greif Center Ph.D. Research Award. Both Nate's and Heejin's research proposals were cited as "well written," "academically rigorous", and "relevant to the field of entrepreneurship." (04/17/2013)

Yong Paik got another single-authored hit this time from the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal: "Serial Entrepreneurs and Venture Survival: Evidence from U.S. Venture-Capital-Financed Semiconductor Firms."

This paper examines the relationship between prior entrepreneurial experience and subsequent venture performance. Specifically, this study investigates the effects of prior firm-founding experience, prior venture capital (VC) financing experience and prior success with regard to subsequent venture performance by distinguishing serial entrepreneurs with and without prior VC-financing experience. This distinction is important, as we do not know whether the source of entrepreneurial learning mainly comes from the experience of starting and running a business or from interacting with VCs. An analysis of VC-backed semiconductor firms that entered the market during 1995-1999 shows that ventures founded by serial entrepreneurs perform better than those founded by novice entrepreneurs regardless of whether entrepreneurs had prior success or failure. However, contrary to expectations, this study finds that serial entrepreneurs without prior VC-financing experience perform better than serial entrepreneurs with prior VC-financing experience, suggesting that there may be an inadvertent cost of learning about the VCs themselves that might influence subsequent VC-backed ventures. This paper contributes to entrepreneurial learning theory by providing a socialized view of learning from experience with an emphasis on the role of VCs. (04/11/2013)

Sarah Bonner (joint with Accounting) also has been honored with a 2013 USC Mellon Mentoring Award for her work with doctoral students. Marshall's doctoral students have long benefited from Sarah's high academic standards, countless hours of attention, and careful guidance. (04/08/2013)

Michael Coombs has been honored with a 2013 USC Mellon Mentoring Award for his work with undergraduate students. Competition for these awards is intense and Michael's hard work, dedication, and caring for Marshall undergraduates is deeply and widely appreciated. (04/08/2013)

Priyanka Joshi and Cheryl Wakslak just got a paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General: "Communicating with the Crowd: Speakers use Abstract Messages when Addressing Larger Audiences."

Audience characteristics often shape communicators' message framing. Drawing from construal level theory, we suggest that when speaking to many individuals, communicators frame messages in terms of superordinate characteristics that focus attention on the essence of the message. On the other hand, when communicating with a single individual, communicators increasingly describe events and actions in terms of their concrete details. Using different communication tasks and measures of construal, we show that speakers communicating with many individuals, as compared to one person, describe events more abstractly (Study 1), describe themselves as more trait-like (Study 2), and use more desirability-related persuasive messages (Study 3). Furthermore, speakers' motivation to communicate with their audience moderates their tendency to frame messages based on audience size (Studies 3 and 4). This audience-size abstraction effect is eliminated when a large audience is described as homogenous, suggesting that people use abstract construal strategically in order to connect across a disparate group of individuals (Study 5). Finally, we show that participants' experienced fluency in communication is influenced by the match between message abstraction and audience size (Study 6). (03/19/2013)

Priyanka Joshi and Nate Fast had their paper accepted for publication in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin: "I am my (high power) role: Power and role identification."

Research indicates that power liberates the self, but findings also show that the powerful are susceptible to situational influences. The present article examines whether enacting roles that afford power leads people to identify with the roles or, instead, liberates them from role expectations altogether. The results of three experiments support the hypothesis that power enhances role identification. Experiment 1 showed that enacting a particular role resulted in greater implicit and explicit role identification when the role contained power. In Experiment 2, infusing a role with power resulted in greater role identification and role congruent behavior. Experiment 3 demonstrated that power resulted in greater role congruent self construal, such that having power in a close relationship caused participants to define themselves relationally whereas having power in a group situation caused participants to embrace a collective self construal. Implications for research on power, roles, and the self are discussed. (02/11/2013)

Gerry Tellis' (joint appointment with Marketing) latest book came out: Unrelenting Innovation: How to Build a Culture for Market Dominance. Attached are the endorsements and forward. (01/29/2013)

Cheryl Wakslak had a paper accepted (with Erin Burgoon, UT Austin & Marlone Henderson, UT Austin) in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin: "How Do We Want Others to Decide? Geographical Distance Influences Evaluations of Decision-Makers."

People who decide on behalf of others can be located at various geographical distances from their clients and constituents. Across five experiments, we examined the role distance plays in evaluations of these decision-makers. Specifically, drawing on construal level theory, we examined how the type of information (aggregate or case-specific) that closer and more distant decision-makers cited as the basis for their decisions influenced how they were evaluated. We found that people expressed more anger towards (Experiment 1) and were less enthusiastic about (Experiments 2 & 4) more distant decision-makers who relied on case-specific (vs. aggregate) information. Additionally, we found that people were less enthusiastic about decision-makers who relied on case-specific (vs. aggregate) information when evaluators were in a higher-level (vs. lower-level) construal mindset (Experiments 3 and 5). Implications for how decision-makers can manage impressions are discussed. (01/28/2013)

Gerry Tellis' former doctoral student Seshadri Tirunillai (Marshall PhD 2011) has won the American Marketing Association's 2012 John A Howard Award for the best dissertation in the field of Marketing. This is one of the oldest and most prestigious awards in the field given since 1960. Seshadri's dissertation is titled, "Essays on Online User Generated Content and Performance." The first essay was published as a lead article in Marketing Science 2012 while the second essay is under 2nd review at the Journal of Marketing Research. Seshadri is an Assistant Professor at the Bauer College of Business, University of Houston. (01/08/2013)

Cheryl Wakslak had a paper (with Irmak and Trope) accepted for publication at the Journal of Consumer Research: "Selling the Forest, Buying the Trees: The Effect of Construal Level on Seller-Buyer Price Discrepancy."

We present four studies that demonstrate that selling and buying prices are differentially influenced by the value of products' low and high-level construal features. We first show that sellers construe products at a higher level than do buyers and owners
(Study 1). Based on this, we predict and demonstrate that selling prices are higher than buying prices under the following conditions: 1) when the primary (goal-relevant) aspects of the object are superior and the secondary (goal-irrelevant) aspects of the object inferior, but not vice versa
(Study 2), 2) when individuals focus on a product's desirability-related aspects rather than the same product's feasibility-related aspects
(Study 3A), 3) when individuals are in a why mindset, but not when they are in a how mindset
(Study 3B), and 4) when the product's desirability aspects are superior and its feasibility aspects inferior, but not vice versa (Study 4). Further, we demonstrate a moderated mediation such that sellers' and buyers' differential construal mediates the difference between seller and buyer prices, which emerges when a product's value derives from high-level features (e.g., desirability), but not when a product's value derives from low-level features (e.g., feasibility; Study 4). (01/06/2013)

Feng Zhu will receive the Western Academy of Management's Ascendant Scholar Award at its annual meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico in March, 2013. This is quite an honor and attests to Feng's rising scholarly acclaim. Feng joins a distinguished group of former WAM Ascendant Scholars including Joanne Martin, Jay Barney, Connie Gersick, Kathy Eisenhardt, Tom Lee, Michael Morris, Jone Pearce, and Anne Tsui, as well as our own Sue Mohrman, Mary Ann Von Glinow, Janet Fulk, Dave Bowen, Gerry Ledford, Arvind Bhambri, Syd Finkelstein, Nandini Rajagopalan, Gretchen Spreitzer, Nick Argyres, Lisa Pelled, Cris Gibson, Peter Kim, Peer Fiss, and Mark Kennedy. (12/29/2012)

Nan Jia continues her hit streak with a paper accepted by the Strategic Management Journal: "Are Collective and Private Political Actions Substitutes or Complements? Empirical Evidence from China¹s Private Sector."

This paper examines the circumstances under which collective and private corporate political actions are more likely to be substitutes or complements. Using data based on a series of nationwide surveys conducted on privately owned firms in China, I find that firms that are engaged in collective political actions are more likely to pursue private political actions. This positive relationship is stronger in less economically developed provinces and when there are greater opportunities for the state to redistribute economic resources in product and capital markets. Meanwhile, this relationship is weaker in the presence of heavier regulatory burdens and for firms in which the state has some equity or owned by individuals who had prior political careers. These findings contribute to the corporate political action (CPA) literature.

Nan would like to acknowledge the helpful feedback from the O&S group and comments from her mentor Nandini. (12/28/2012)

Sun Park (with Jim Westphal) had an article published in Research in Organizational Behavior, Vol 32, 2012: "Unintended agency: Impression management support as a trigger of institutional change in corporate governance."

In this paper we describe an emergent process of institutional change in which institutional entrepreneurs are unintentional contributors to the change process. Our theory suggests how change in the predominant institutional logic of corporate governance at public U.S. companies resulted not from deliberate attempts by corporate leaders to change the criteria by which governance is evaluated, but from the cumulative efforts of top executives to provide "impression management support" (IM support) for individual leaders of other firms. We first discuss how IM support has spread among corporate leaders through generalized social exchange. Then we suggest how individual leaders, in seeking to persuade journalists about the quality of corporate leadership at particular other firms, tend to invoke evaluative criteria that deviate from the prevailing institutional logic of governance. We further suggest how the rhetoric of IM support instigated a cascading social influence process that has contributed to changing perceptions about corporate governance among a broad range of other corporate stakeholders. We discuss the implications of our model for sociological perspectives on corporate governance and the corporate elite. Finally, we consider how the occasional negative commentary by corporate leaders about their peers, in combination with IM support, helps to sustain the credibility of the social system in which leaders, journalists, and other information intermediaries operate. (12/17/2012)

Derek Harmon, Yoo Kyoung Kim, and Heejin Woo have passed their Qualifying Exams. Congratulations and onward to the dissertation. (12/13/2012)

Yong Paik had a paper accepted at the Journal of Economics & Management Strategy: "Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005 and Entrepreneurial Activity."

This paper empirically investigates the effect of the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005 on entrepreneurial activity. We find that this act had virtually no noticeable effect on the overall level of entrepreneurship, measured by self-employment, partly because potential entrepreneurs were more likely to seek limited liability to offset the reduction in wealth protection imposed by the new law.

That is, the incorporation rate increased for small businesses after the new law was enacted. This increase emphasizes that limited liability provided by incorporation is an important strategic variable that potential entrepreneurs utilize in response to changes in personal bankruptcy law. The theoretical implication of this study is that incorporation is an important parameter to consider in attempting to understand the relationship between bankruptcy law and entrepreneurial activity. The policy implication of this study is that entrepreneurs do respond to changes in personal bankruptcy law, even though it is intended for consumers, so this potential side effect should be considered when designing a new law. (12/12/2012)

Kyle Mayer was elected as the incoming Associate Program Chair for the Cooperative Strategy Interest Group of the Strategic Management Society. (12/04/2012)

Jody Tolan was awarded a Spring 2013 Learning Environments Incentive Grant (LEIG) for her proposal for student presentations in BUAD 304. She will use the grant to apply technology and critical thinking strategies for student and instructor feedback on the progress of student team case analysis projects during the Spring 2013 semester. The LEIG program promotes the use of student-driven, active learning strategies in the classroom. In particular, the focus is on the pedagogies of in-class presentation and collaboration. The grants are meant to encourage USC faculty to learn from each other's successes, while enabling the University's ITS Technology-Enhanced Learning office to collect data about the benefits and challenges of specific tools and approaches. (12/02/12)

Adlai Wertman was recently honored by USC's Mortar Board for academic excellence. This is quite an honor and attests to the hard work and caring that Adlai has put into founding the Society and Business Lab at Marshall — an organization dedicated to teaching students the importance of business from a social reform perspective. Through the lab and his classes, Adlai has made a significant contribution to the education and lives of Marshall and USC students. (11/29/2012)

The Department of Management and Organization contributed to the 2012 Women in Society for Judgment and Decision Making annual luncheon.

"The Society for Judgment and Decision Making is an interdisciplinary academic organization dedicated to the study of normative, descriptive, and prescriptive theories of judgments and decisions. Its members include psychologists, economists, organizational researchers, decision analysts, and other decision researchers. The Society's primary event is its Annual Meeting at which Society members present their research. It also publishes the journal Judgment and Decision Making." Please visit for more information. (11/27/2012)

Victor Bennett got his sole authored paper accepted in Management Science: "Organization and Bargaining: Sales Process Choice at Auto Dealerships."


This paper examines how firms' organizational form affects prices negotiated. Negotiated prices are one factor determining whether a vendor or customer captures the value from a transaction. Firms that systematically negotiate more effectively capture more value. Research has investigated individual- and market-level determinants of negotiation outcomes, but little has been done on the firm-level determinants of negotiated prices. I present a first look at one feature, sales process: whether salespeople handle the entire sale in parallel or customers begin with less experienced salespeople who can escalate difficult assignments. I model firms' choice of sales process as a biform game and test predictions of the model using a combination of transaction-level data on new car purchases in the U.S. and a unique survey of dealership management practices. I find that a serial process has implications consistent with improving firms' bargaining power and reducing customers' outside option. (11/21/2012)

Nan Jia got a first-authored hit (with Jing Shi and Yongxiang Wang) in Management Science: "Coinsurance within Business Groups: Evidence from Related Party Transactions in an Emerging Market."


Using novel transaction-level data on Chinese business groups, this study finds support for the coinsurance effect of business groups. We find that in Chinese business groups, a credit crunch experienced by the controlling shareholding firm (the ³controller²) of a publicly listed firm increases the loan-based related party transactions (RPT) including loan guarantees and intercorporate loans provided by the listed firm to the controller. In turn, when the listed firm¹s performance dips, the controller and its son firms provide more support to the listed firm in the form of non-loan-based RPTs. By examining when different types of internal resources are transferred between the listed firm and the rest of the business group, this study provides direct evidence of the dynamic interactions of members within business groups. This study makes important contributions to both the theoretical understanding and the empirical approach of business group research.

Lori Yue (coauthors: Jiao Luo, Paul Ingram) just had a paper accepted by Administrative Science Quarterly: "Power Over Finance: Private Institutions, Elite Control, and Endogenous Market Disorder."


In this paper, we develop an account of the endogenous failure of private market-governance institutions to maintain market order by highlighting how their distributional function limits their regulatory capacity. We examine the New York Clearing House Association (NYCHA), a private market-governance institution among commercial banks in Manhattan that operated from 1853 to 1913. We find that the NYCHA, founded to achieve coordinating benefits among banks, transformed itself at the turn of the twentieth century into a device for large, elite market players to promote their own interests to the disadvantage of rival groups. Elites prevented the rest of the market from having equal opportunities of participation. The elites' control not only worsened the condition of the rest of the market; it also diminished the influence of the NYCHA and escalated market crises. As a result, crises developed to an extent that exceeded the control of the NYCHA and ended up hurting even elites' own interests. This paper suggests that institutional stability rests on a deliberate balance of interests between different market sectors and that, without such a balance, the distributional function of market-governance institutions plants the very seeds of institutional destruction.

Lori is especially thankful to her mentor Peer Fiss, who read the paper more than 5 times, and offered detailed, extremely helpful comments. She also would like to thank the participants of the OS group, whose collective wisdom helped make the paper better.(10/26/2012)

Paul Adler is already having quite an impact as program chair for the upcoming AOM conference in Orlando, Florida near Disney World. Paul's French education keeps seeping through, often in unexpected ways.

Wish Upon a Bar

Disney World to Sell Wine and Beer
The Magic Kingdom in Orlando's Disney world is entering a whole new world: the park's new French-themed Be Our Guest restaurant will be offering wine and beer for guests to order with dinner. This will be the first time in the park's 41-year history that alcohol will be served. The president of food and beverage at Walt Disney Parks says the move is just a matter of common sense: "You cannot walk into a French restaurant and not get a glass of wine or beer. It made more sense to do it than not to do it." Cheers to that. (09/17/2012)

Scott Wiltermuth (with Francesca Gino) had a six-study paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: "I'll have one of each": How separating rewards into (meaningless) categories increases motivation.


We propose that separating rewards into categories can increase motivation, even when those categories are meaningless. Across six experiments, people were more motivated to obtain one reward from one category and another reward from another category than they were to obtain two rewards from a pool that included all items from either reward category. As a result, they worked longer when potential rewards for their work were separated into meaningless categories. This categorization effect persisted regardless of whether the rewards were presented using a gain or loss frame. Using both moderation and mediation analyses, we found that categorizing rewards had these positive effects on motivation by increasing the degree to which people felt they would "miss out" if they did not obtain the second reward. We discuss implications for research on motivation and incentives. (08/28/2012)

Peter Kim (with MOR alum Cecily Cooper, Kurt Dirks, and Donald Ferrin) had a paper accepted for publication in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes: "Repairing trust with individuals versus groups."


This study incorporates insights from research on group decision-making and trust repair to investigate the differences that arise when alleged transgressors attempt to regain the trust of groups as compared to individuals. Results indicate that repairing trust is generally more difficult with groups than individuals, and both groups and individuals were less trusting when trustees denied culpability (rather than apologized) for a competence-based violation or apologized (rather than denied culpability) for an integrity-based violation. However, the interaction of violation-type and violation-response also ultimately affected the relative difficulty of repairing trust with groups vs. individuals, with the greater harshness of groups dissipating when the transgressors' responses were effectively matched with the type of violation. Persuasive argumentation rather than normative pressure, furthermore, mediated these differences. Thus, the sequencing of individual vs. group assessments mattered, such that subsequent group assessments affected initial individual assessments but not the reverse. (08/24/2012)

Paul Adler received a USC Research Collaboration Fund award, which will support for three years cross-school collaboration on "Environmental Sustainability and the Global Economy." This is a highly competitive award that is part of the Provost's research initiative to have a major impact on the university through broad involvement of faculty and students from multiple schools. Paul's collaboration will hold a range of events throughout the year that engage a broad set of faculty and students from throughout USC in sustained, ongoing dialogue about environmental sustainability and the global economy. It should have an impact on those scholars' research as well as provide USC with an organized foothold in this important area. (08/22/2012)

Gerry Tellis (joint with Department of Marketing) had a paper (with Ashish Sood, Gareth James, & Ji Zhu) accepted for publication in Marketing Science: "Predicting the Path of Technological Evolution: Testing SAW versus Moore, Gompertz, Bass, and Kryder."


Competition is intense among rival technologies and success depends on predicting their future trajectory of performance. To resolve this challenge, managers often follow popular heuristics, generalizations, or "laws" like the Moore's Law. We propose a model, Step And Wait (SAW), for predicting the path of technological innovation and compare its performance against eight models for 25 technologies and 804 technologies-years across six markets. The estimates of the model provide four important results. First, Moore's Law and Kryder's law do not generalize across markets; none holds for all technologies even in a single market. Second, SAW produces superior predictions over traditional methods, such as the Bass model or Gompertz law, and can form predictions for a completely new technology, by incorporating information from other categories on time varying covariates. Third, analysis of the model parameters suggests that: i) recent technologies improve at a faster rate than old technologies; ii) as the number of competitors increases, performance improves in smaller steps and longer waits; iii) later entrants and technologies that have a number of prior steps tend to have smaller steps and shorter waits; but iv) technologies with long average wait time continue to have large steps. Fourth, technologies cluster in their performance by market. (08/17/2012)

At the recent Academy of Management Conference in Boston, Theresa Welbourne (Research Professor at the Center for Effective Organizations) was presented with the Human Resources Division's Distinguished Human Resources Executive Award.

Theresa is the first woman and first entrepreneur to win this prestigious award, quite an honor. (08/16/2012)

John Boudreau (with Wayne Cascio) recently co-authored a book published by Cambridge University Press (2012): Short Introduction to Strategic Human Resource Management.

Also, John (with R. Zimmerman, W. Boswell, A. Shipp, and B. Dunford) had an article published in the Journal of Management (2012; Vol. 38): "Explaining the Pathways Between Approach-Avoidance Personality Traits and Employees' Job Search Behavior."


Research suggests that certain personality characteristics lead to greater (or lesser) withdrawal from work, yet little research has examined exactly how personality translates into withdrawal behavior. To address this question, the present study demonstrated that the approach-avoidance personality traits of extraversion and neuroticism each showed simultaneous positive and negative effects on job search behaviors of employed individuals depending on the mediating mechanism involved (i.e., ambition values, job search self-efficacy, perceived job challenge, work burnout, perceived financial inadequacy, and job satisfaction). The authors' findings extend theoretical insights on the pathways linking dispositional traits and employee withdrawal behaviors and suggest how employers can more precisely anticipate and mitigate employees' search for new employment. (08/15/2012)

At the Academy of Management Journal's Editorial Board meeting at the Academy of Management Annual Conference in Boston, MOR was well represented with outstanding reviewer awards:

2012 AMJ Outstanding Reviewer Award: Nandini Rajagopalan (also got this award in 2009 and 2010)

2012 AMJ Outstanding Reviewer Award: Libby Weber (MOR Doctoral program alum & UCI Assistant Professor) (08/14/2012)

Cheryl Wakslak (with Elinor Amit and Yaacov Trope) just got a paper accepted for publication in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin: "The Use of Visual and Verbal Means of Communication Across Psychological Distance."


Five experiments investigated the effect of distance on medium preferences in interpersonal communication. Across five experiments, people's preference for using pictures (vs. words) was increasingly higher when communicating with those who were proximal (vs. distal) in terms of time, space, or socially. In contrast, preference for words was increasingly higher when communicating with those who were distal. A sixth experiment further shows that medium of communication influences distance preferences, such that people's preference for communicating a message to a distant (vs. proximal) target is greater for verbal compared to pictorial communications. A seventh experiment showed that recipients are more likely to act upon a message when the medium and distance are congruent. These findings reflect the suitability of pictures as a medium of communication with proximal others and the suitability of words as a medium of communication with distal others. Implications of these findings for construal level theory, perspective taking, embodied cognition, the development of language and social skills with children, and the use of various forms of communication are discussed. (07/30/2012)

Scott Wiltermuth (and F.J. Flynn) just got a paper accepted for publication in the Academy of Management Journal: "Power, moral clarity, and punishment in the workplace."


We propose that power increases how severely people punish a transgressor. Further, we argue that this greater severity stems from an increased sense of moral clarity instilled by the psychological experience of power. We investigate the linkages among power, moral clarity, and punishment across multiple studies. Individuals with an increased sense of power advocated more severe punishments for transgressors than did those with a diminished sense of power. Further, moral clarity mediated the link between power and severity of punishment. We discuss the implications of these findings for managers in organizations and researchers interested in punitive reactions to moral transgressions. (07/28/2012)

Feng Zhu and his better half (Monic Sun, visiting scholar at Marshall from Stanford) just had a paper accepted at Management Science: "Ad Revenue and Content Commercialization: Evidence from Blogs."


Many scholars argue that when incentivized by ad revenue, content providers are more likely to tailor their content to attract "eyeballs," and as a result, popular content may be excessively supplied. We empirically test this prediction by taking advantage of the launch of an ad-revenue-sharing program initiated by a major Chinese portal site in September 2007. Participating bloggers allow the site to run ads on their blogs and receive 50% of the revenue generated by these ads. After analyzing 4.4 million blog posts, we find that, relative to nonparticipants, popular content increases by about 13 percentage points on participants' blogs after the program takes effect. About 50% of this increase can be attributed to topics shifting toward three domains: the stock market, salacious content, and celebrities. Meanwhile, relative to nonparticipants, participants' content quality increases after the program takes effect. We also find that the program effects are more pronounced for participants with moderately popular blogs, and seem to persist after participants enroll in the program. (07/26/2012)

Warren Bennis has a bi-weekly blog in BusinessWeek. Here is the link to his latest post:

Below is a good introduction to Warren's blog from Louis Lavelle the associate editor for Bloomberg BusinessWeek:

"Warren Bennis is one of those writers who can somehow make anything interesting. If he compiled his daily "to do" lists and published them in hardcover, I'd be the first person in line at my local Barnes & Noble to buy it. So I was thrilled when he agreed to be a guest blogger for Bloomberg BusinessWeek. I'm even more thrilled when he files his posts every other week. It's a rare writer who can somehow make the leap from a Shakespearean play set in 15th century England to 21st century Harvard, as Bennis does in his latest post, but leap he does. And in 10 words no less."

"In Dean Nitin Nohria at Harvard Business School, Bennis finds a kindred spirit, one who places practical knowledge above scholarly research—doing above knowing—at the center of the business school experience. This of course is a long-standing debate in the B-school world, one that Bennis (and co-author James O'Toole) provoked in 2005 with their Harvard Business Review article, "How Business Schools Lost Their Way." But Nohria's curriculum changes at Harvard give it a new urgency, and Bennis a new reason to apply his razor sharp intelligence to the issue. If you read one business school story this week, make it this one. You won't be disappointed." (04/24/2012)

Tom Cummings and Chailin Cummings' (MOR PhD alum) paper, "A Cognitive Inquiry into Knowledge Change in Organization Studies", was selected for the Best Paper Proceedings of the 2012 Academy of Management Meeting. It also was selected as a finalist for the Best Paper Award from the Managerial and Organizational Cognition Division of the Academy.


Our study addresses the cognitive dynamics of knowledge change in organization studies (OS). Drawing on extensive research on the cognitive processes underlying artistic change, we extend that knowledge to explain how changes in the thinking that OS researchers use to produce knowledge contribute to predictable changes in that knowledge over time. We used this cognitive framework to analyze changes in OS knowledge over the past 50 years, the period when contemporary OS developed into an identifiable academic field. This involved a textual analysis of articles appearing in three of the field's premier journals from 1956 to 2008: Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, and Administrative Science Quarterly. These data provided indirect measures of the thought processes that OS researchers used to create this knowledge. The results are largely consistent with the cognitive framework guiding our study. They tell a cognitive story of how the OS field's knowledge changed over the last half of the twentieth century. (07/23/2012)

The current issue of Organization Science seems like a USC special issue. It includes articles authored by Ann Majchrzak and Phil More, Peer Fiss and Mark Kennedy, and Lori Yue.

This is great visibility and attests to our growing stature in the academic marketplace. (07/20/2012)

Nan Jia got her first big hit in the Strategic Management Journal: "Competition, Governance, and Relationship-Specific Investments: Theory and Implications for Strategy."


This paper uses biform games to examine the endogenous decision to invest in relationship-specific assets. It addresses the questions of how competition affects suppliers' decisions to produce a general-purpose product or a relationship-specific product for a buyer and under what circumstances a governance arrangement designed to share investment costs between the transacting parties increases the investment in relationship-specific assets. We offer a balanced perspective that emphasizes both the superior transaction value of relationship-specific products and their high transaction costs while considering the competition effects generated by alternative investment plans. The model and its extensions generate new insights into investment decisions regarding relationship-specific assets. (07/17/2012)

Priyanka Joshi and Nate Fast had a paper accepted in Psychological Science: "Power and Reduced Temporal Discounting."


Decision makers generally feel disconnected from their future selves, an experience that leads them to prefer smaller immediate gains to larger future gains. This pervasive tendency is known as temporal discounting, and researchers across disciplines are interested in understanding how to overcome it. Drawing from recent advances in the power literature, we suggest that the experience of power enhances one's connection with the future self, resulting in reduced temporal discounting. In Study 1, we show that participants assigned to high-power roles are less likely than others to display temporal discounting. In Studies 2 and 3, we find that priming power reduces temporal discounting in monetary and non-monetary tasks and, further, that connection with the future self mediates the relationship between power and reduced discounting. In Study 4, we show that experiencing a general sense of power in the workplace predicts actual lifetime savings. Implications and future research directions are discussed. (06/18/2012)

At the Annual Conference of the Society of Marketing Science in Boston last Friday, Gerry Tellis (joint with Department of Marketing) won the 2012 Longtime Impact Award for the most impactful article in Marketing Science in the last 10 years. The article (co-authored by Peter Golder) was titled "Growing, Growing, Gone: Cascades, Diffusion, and Turning Points in the Product Life Cycle," 23, 2, 2004. (06/18/2012)

Paul Adler and Seok-Woo Kwon's (MOR PhD alum) 2002 publication "Social Capital: Prospects for a New Concept" is the 2012 Academy of Management Review Decade Award winner. This award recognizes the article published in AMR ten years earlier that has the most significant impact as determined through citations. Paul and Seok-Woo will be recognized for this honor at the Academy of Management annual meeting in Boston this August. (06/07/2012)

MOR's teaching acclaim continues with Nandini Rajagopalan receiving the Teacher of the Year Award by the San Diego EMBA students at their graduation celebration on Saturday night. In announcing the award, several students made eloquent statements about Nandini's tremendous impact on their understanding of global strategy and on their lives. (05/28/2012)

Arvind Bhambri was voted "Best Professor in the EMBA Program" by the Los Angeles class at the graduation ceremonies Saturday evening. (05/21/2012)

Cheryl Wakslak just got a paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology: "The Experience of Cognitive Dissonance in Important and Trivial Domains: A Construal-Level Theory Approach."


Although the role of issue-importance has been central to theorizing about dissonance, its impact on dissonance-related shifts in attitude is not clear. Drawing on recent distinctions between high-level construals, which capture an object's gist and lead people to focus on their more important concerns, and low-level construals, which emphasize secondary issues, the current paper explores the role of construal-level in moderating the effect of importance on dissonance-induced attitude change. Adopting a widely used induced compliance paradigm, participants in a high or low-level construal mindset wrote counterattitudinal essays about instituting a senior comprehensive exam under conditions of high or low choice. As expected, participants in a high-level construal mindset were more in favor of comprehensive exams under high choice than low choice conditions, but only when the issue was personally important. Participants in a low-level construal mindset showed a choice effect when the issue was unimportant. Implications and future directions are discussed. (05/21/2012)

Victor Bennett (with Jason Snyder at UCLA, Lamar Pierce and Wash U, and Mike Toffel at HBS) just had a paper accepted for publication at Management Science: "Competition and Illicit Quality."


Competition among firms can have many positive outcomes, including decreased prices and improved quality. Yet competition can have a darker side when firms can gain competitive advantage through illicit and corrupt activities. In this paper, we argue that competition can lead organizations to provide illicit quality that satisfies customer demand but violates laws and regulations and that this outcome is particularly likely when price competition is restricted. Using 28 million vehicle emissions tests from more than 11,000 facilities, we show that increased competition is associated with greater inspection leniency, a form of illicit quality that customers value but is illegal and socially costly. Firms with greater numbers of local competitors pass customers at considerably higher rates and are more likely to lose customers they fail to pass, suggesting that the alternatives that competition provides to customers intensify pressure to illegally provide leniency. We also show that, at least in contexts when pricing is restricted, firms use illicit quality as an entry strategy. (05/15/2012)

Nandini Rajagopalan was a faculty inductee in the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, the oldest and largest interdisciplinary honor society in Academe. Phi Kappa Phi draws membership from all scholarly areas within academic institutions. Faculty membership is highly selective and based on a distinguished career as a researcher and educator. (05/10/2012)

Once again, the MOR Department dominated the Annual Marshall Faculty, Staff, and Doctoral Student Awards. At today's ceremony:

PhD Recognition: Vern Glaser and Eunice Rhee

USC Mellon Award for Mentoring (Faculty): Adlai Wertman

Golden Apple, Undergraduate Teaching: Victor Bennett and Carl Voigt

Golden Apple, Graduate Teaching: Carl Voigt for the PM Program

Marshall Award for Research Excellence: Nate Fast and Scott Wiltermuth

Evan C. Thompson Mentoring Award (Doctoral Students and Faculty): Nandini Rajagopalan

Congratulations Vern, Eunice, Adlai, Victor, Carl, Nate, Scott, and Nandini. (05/03/2012)

Peter Monge (joint with Annenberg School for Communication and Marshall School of Business) will be receiving the 2012 Steven H. Chaffee Career Productivity Award from the International Communication Association. The award honors a scholar for sustained work on a communication research problem over an extended period and whose influence is evident on a second generation of scholars. The award committee observed that he was the "ideal candidate" for the award. They observed that his intellectual leadership can be seen in his own scholarly awards as well as a substantial number of dissertation awards earned by his students, by his substantial record of funding from the National Science Foundation and other sources, and his international visibility. The committee noted that "His work is original and has explored new concepts, terrains, and applications of communication networks in the field—including organizational communication, information systems, new technologies, and mass media. He has added theoretical richness to an area of study that was once vacuous in theory," and concluded that his "publications, his commitment to students' development, and his interdisciplinary intellectual leadership have literally changed the trajectory of network studies." (05/01/2012)

The Wall Street Journal ran a story on Gerry Tellis' recent article relating stock prices with online chatter. (04/17/2012)

The Wall Street Journal

Online Chatter That Moves Markets
By Christopher Shea

Researchers say they've figured out a way to analyze the torrent of online commentary by consumers about products in a way that lets them beat stock-market averages.
The economists analyzed nearly 350,000 reviews on,, and Yahoo! Shopping in several product categories: computers, cellphones, data-storage devices, shoes and toys — 15 brands in all. Their software took note of ratings assigned by the sites' users and also measured the tone of the accompanying text, considering both generic words of praise or disfavor ("awesome," "overhyped") and product-specific language ("small" might be good for a cellphone, bad for a laptop keyboard). In rare cases when the software couldn't get a handle on the tone, the rating was done by hand, and comments of fewer than 10 words were discarded.
The best predictor of a stock-price increase was the sheer volume of user-generated commentary — an objective measure of buzz. (Online silence is what companies should fear.) Numerical or star ratings had no predictive value, nor did positive comments per se, but negative commentary hurt, as did chatter about a competitor's products. The ratio of positive to negative comments was roughly 75/25 — "which you might say shows the niceness of the American people," says Gerard J. Tellis, a professor in the Marshall School of Business, at the University of Southern California. "But the bad is far more potent."
The researchers controlled for new-product announcements, advertising dollars spent by firms, media mentions, and new-product announcements — and user-generated content still emerged as an important predictor of stock price. Making investments in the brands studied while using variables for online chatter, using a fictional $100 million portfolio, the authors beat the S&P 500 by 7.9%.
Source: "Does Chatter Really Matter? Dynamics of User-Generated Content and Stock Performance," Seshadri Tirunillai and Gerard J. Tellis,* Marketing Science (March - April)

The Management and Organization Department has done well in winning research awards from the Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

We have two winners of faculty research awards:

  • Peter Kim (joint work with doctoral student Derek Harmon)
  • Yong Paik (for joint work with Doctoral student Heejin Woo)
Vern Glaser won the Ph.D. dissertation proposal award. (04/05/2012)

Lori Yue's article (with Rao and Ingram), "Regulatory Arbitrage, Activism, and Right-to-Work States," in American Sociological Review 76: 365-385 (June 2011), has been awarded Honorable Mention in Law and Society Association's 2012 Article Prize. Lori's name will appear in the Awards Program and announced at the Law and Society Association's 2012 International Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, in June. (04/04/2012)

John Boudreau has been appointed to the Editorial Board of the California Management Review. (04/02/2012)

Gerry Tellis (joint appointment with Marketing Department) was honored as a Fellow of the Institute for the Study of Business Markets (ISBM) in Dallas Tx on Tuesday. (03/08/2012)

Paul Adler, received a publication in Organization Science, Vol. 23, No. 1, January–February 2012, pp. 244–266: "The Sociological Ambivalence of Bureaucracy: From Weber via Gouldner to Marx."


Reports of the demise of the bureaucratic form of organization are greatly exaggerated, and debates about bureaucracy's functions and effects therefore persist. For many years, a broad current of organizational scholarship has taken inspiration from Max Weber's image of bureaucracy as an "iron cage" and has seen bureaucracy as profoundly ambivalent— imposing alienation as the price of efficiency. Following a path originally sketched by Alvin Gouldner [Gouldner, A. W. 1954. Patterns of Industrial Bureaucracy. Free Press, Glencoe, IL], some recent research has challenged this view as overly pessimistic, arguing that bureaucracy need not always be coercive but can sometimes take a form that is experienced as enabling. The present article challenges both Weber's and Gouldner's accounts, arguing that although bureaucracy's enabling role may sometimes be salient to employees, even when it is, bureaucracy typically appears to them as ambivalent—simultaneously enabling and coercive. I offer an unconventional reading of Marx as a way to make sense of this ambivalence. (02/16/2012)

Tomorrow's Wall Street Journal will publish a piece that focuses on Alex Michel's research: "Hazards of the Trade: Bankers Health." It can be viewed online at: (02/15/2012).

Jennifer Overbeck received a hit (with Shimul Melwani and Jennifer Mueller) in the Journal of Applied Psychology: "Looking Down: The Influence of Contempt and Compassion on Emergent Leadership Categorizations."


By integrating the literatures on implicit leadership and the social functions of discrete emotions, we develop and test a theoretical model of emotion expression and leadership categorizations. Specifically, we examine the influence of two socio-comparative emotions, compassion and contempt, on assessments of leadership made both in first impression contexts and over time. To demonstrate both internal and external validity, Studies 1a and 1b provide laboratory and field evidence to show that expressing the discrete emotions of contempt and compassion positively relate to perceptions that an individual is a leader. Study 2 tests the mechanism explaining these associations. Specifically, we show that in a leadership emergence context, contempt and compassion both positively relate to perceptions that the expresser is a leader because each provides cues matching the implicit theory that leaders have higher intelligence. Our findings add to a growing body of literature focused on identifying the processes through which leaders emerge in groups, showing that emotions are one important input to this process. We discuss the implications of our findings and how they might guide future research efforts. (02/02/2012)

Eunice Rhee continues to get accolades (and funds) for work on her dissertation. She has recently been awarded the Ph.D. Dissertation Fellowship from the NASDAQ OMX Group Educational Foundation to work on her dissertation essay, "The Symbolic Management of Category Affiliations: Sense-giving, Sense-making and IPO Performance in Nascent Markets." The NASDAQ OMX Group Educational Foundation promotes learning about capital formation, financial markets and entrepreneurship through innovative educational programs. (01/30/2012)

Eunice Rhee has been awarded the Strategy Research Foundation (SRF) Dissertation Grant for her dissertation proposal, "Essays on the Symbolic Management of Category Affiliations." She will be presenting her paper as a selected panel of dissertation scholars (one of five inaugural SRF Dissertation Scholars) at the Strategic Management Society's Conference in Prague this coming October. (01/09/2012)

Yeri Cho and Nate Fast got a hit in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology: "Power, Defensive Denigration, and the Assuaging Effect of Gratitude Expression."


This article examines the interactive effects of power, competency threats, and gratitude expression on the tendency to denigrate others. The results of two experiments indicate that (1) power holders whose competence has been threatened are more likely than others to denigrate interaction partners, and (2) receiving gratitude expression has self-affirming effects for insecure power holders. Experiment 1 demonstrated that high-power, but not low-power, individuals who received threatening feedback about their competence denigrated the competence of their partners. Importantly, this tendency was ameliorated when subordinates expressed gratitude for previous help provided from the power holder. Experiment 2 demonstrated that the ameliorating effect of gratitude expression on threatened power holders' tendency to denigrate subordinates is mediated by increased perceptions of social worth. Implications for research on power, gratitude expression, and the self are discussed. (01/05/2012)