Weiyi Ng and Eliot L. Sherman. "In Search of Inspiration: External Mobility and the Emergence of Technology Intrapreneurs." Provisionally accepted at Organization Science.
The practice of external hiring continues unabated, despite growing evidence that its costs often exceed its returns. In view of this, we consider whether external hiring provides value to firms that prior research has not captured: Namely, greater opportunity for intrapreneurship. Consistent with studies that emphasize knowledge recombination as a key antecedent of innovation, we theorize that external hires are at greater risk of intrapreneurship than equivalent internal hires. We test our intuition via a study of product managers in large technology companies. We use machine learning to operationalize intrapreneurship as the semantic similarity between product managers’ description of their work and the founding statements of venture-backed technology entrepreneurs. Our identification strategy relies on coarsened exact matching to optimize covariate balance between product managers externally hired—versus internally promoted—into their roles. The results of our analysis indicate that externally hired product managers are substantially more intrapreneurial than observably equivalent product managers promoted from within. However, and consistent with prior research, we find that external hires have a higher turnover rate, an effect that is amplified for particularly intrapreneurial external hires. This suggests that relying on external hires to catalyze intrapreneurship may be a challenging long-term strategy to sustain.
Eliot L. Sherman, Raina Brands, and Gillian Ku. "Dropping Anchor: A Field Experiment Assessing a Salary History Ban With Archival Replication." Revise and resubmit at Management Science.
Could a salary history ban (SHB) reduce the gender wage gap? Support for this idea continues to build among policy-makers and practitioners—to the extent that it is now illegal in fourteen states in the U.S. to ask a job applicant to disclose their salary history. Proponents believe SHB can address earnings disparities by eliminating the anchor of an applicant’s current salary, which is often lower for women than for comparable men. Alternatively, related research regarding obscured criminal histories suggests that SHB could exacerbate disparity, insofar as hiring managers resort to statistical discrimination in the absence of disconfirming salary information. But SHB could also have no effect—due to hiring managers’ non-compliance and prior knowledge of internal applicant salaries, or because prior salary is less of an anchor than extant theory would suggest. In order to adjudicate between these perspectives, we assessed the impact of SHB in two different ways. Study 1 examined the effect of SHB via a 16-month field experiment at a mid-sized educational institution. Our analysis, which assessed 230 hires deriving from both inside and outside the organization, indicated no main effect of SHB on salary offer, nor interaction effects regarding gender or mobility channel. Study 2 leveraged placement data from a recruitment agency that voluntarily adopted SHB. This analysis, which compared 687 hires in the post-treatment period with 3,001 hires in the pre-treatment period, shows that salaries were lower under SHB; however, this effect did not achieve statistical significance in models that also specified gender. Taken together, our analysis strongly suggests that SHB fails to consistently achieve its aims.
Eliot L. Sherman and Xiaoran Hu. "Everybody Talks: Social Structure and the Selective Disclosure of Discrediting Information in the Workplace." Revise and resubmit at Organization Science.
A core tenet of social capital theory is that relationships within a dense social structure are characterized by trust, cohesion, and mutual support. These conditions combine to catalyze the exchange of information. Yet it remains unclear whether the same patterns of exchange apply to information that threatens the reputation of its subject. We illustrate this point by examining the phenomenon of discrediting information disclosure in the workplace via a field study with replication. While strong ties enhance the probability of disclosure, their structural concomitant—the density of relations around a strongly connected dyad—inhibits it. An implication is that, while strong ties and network density are often treated as additive drivers of information exchange, they actually operate in opposition when the information in question renders its source vulnerable.
Eliot L. Sherman. 2020. "Discretionary Remote Working Helps Mothers Without Harming Non-Mothers: Evidence From a Field Experiment." Management Science 66(3):1351-1374.
Because mothers remain disproportionately responsible for childcare, the daily requirement for physical presence at work disadvantages them compared with otherwise equivalent men and childless women. Relaxing this requirement may therefore enhance the well-being and productivity of working mothers. I tested this idea with a randomized field experiment, using a within-subjects analysis from a repeated crossover design. The 187 participants in the experiment, which ran for four weeks and yielded 748 person-week observations, revealed a preference for about two remote working days per week. I observed no significant differences in the uptake of remote working days between men, women, parents, nonparents, fathers, and mothers. Mothers reported meaningfully reduced family–work conflict during remote working weeks, but fathers did not. Remote working generally increased job performance, but the effect was greatest for mothers. The coordination costs of remote working, with respect to coworker helping and job interdependence, did not appear prohibitive. Interviews with study participants corroborate and contextualize these findings.
Jennifer A. Chatman, Lindred L. Greer, Eliot L. Sherman, and Bernadette Doerr. 2019. "Blurred Lines: How the Collectivism Norm Operates Through Perceived Group Diversity to Boost or Harm Group Performance in Himalayan Mountain Climbing." Organization Science 30(2):235-259.
We develop a theory explaining how collectivism causes people to blur demographic differences, that is, to see less diversity than actually exists in a group, and reconciling contradictions in how collectivistic norms influence group performance. We draw on the perceived diversity literature, hypothesizing that collectivistic norms cause group members to “blur” demographic differences, resulting in perceptions that group members are more similar than they actually are. Whether this benefits or harms group performance depends on the group’s objective diversity and the relevance of the perceived diversity attribute for accomplishing the task. For conjunctive tasks, the group’s performance is determined by its weakest member, demanding high levels of cohesion. Our theory suggests that collectivism benefits group conjunctive performance when objective national diversity is high by blurring divisive relational differences, but has no effect in groups with low objective national diversity. In contrast, for disjunctive tasks, the group’s performance is determined by its best member. We predict that collectivism harms group disjunctive performance when objective expertness diversity is high by blurring differences in task-relevant expertness, but has no effect in low objective expertness diversity groups. We find support for our theory in two studies, an archival study of 5,214 Himalayan climbing expeditions and a laboratory experiment assessing 366 groups. Our results show that collectivism has benefits and detriments for diverse groups, and that these contradictory effects can be understood by identifying how the collectivistic blurring of perceived group diversity helps or hurts groups based on the type of tasks on which they are working.
Sameer B. Srivastava and Eliot L. Sherman. 2015. "Agents of Change or Cogs in the Machine? Reexamining the Influence of Female Managers on the Gender Wage Gap." American Journal of Sociology 120(6):1778-1808.
Do female managers act in ways that narrow or instead act in ways that preserve or even widen the gender wage gap? Although conceptual arguments exist on both sides of this debate, the empirical evidence to date has favored the former view. Yet this evidence comes primarily from cross-establishment surveys, which do not provide visibility into individual managers’ choices. Using longitudinal personnel records from an information services firm in which managers had considerable discretion over employee salaries, we estimate multilevel models that indicate no support for the proposition that female managers reduce the gender wage gap among their subordinates. Consistent with the theory of value threat, we instead find conditional support for the cogs-in-the-machine perspective: in the subsample of high-performing supervisors and low-performing employees, women who switched from a male to a female supervisor had a lower salary in the following year than men who made the same switch.