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A Snapshot of SIOP 2016 (Pt. 5) – SIOP Bonus Coverage

Last month, I-O Psychologists met in California to share the latest cutting-edge research. The 31st annual conference of the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology (SIOP) was a huge success. We’ve partnered with numerous SIOP presenters, and they’ve provided us with the nitty-gritty on some of the very best presentations, which we now offer to you in a multi-part series.

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A Snapshot of SIOP 2016 (Pt. 4) – Diversity

Last month, I-O Psychologists met in California to share the latest cutting-edge research. The 31st annual conference of the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology (SIOP) was a huge success. We’ve partnered with numerous SIOP presenters, and they’ve provided us with the nitty-gritty on some of the very best presentations, which we now offer to you in a multi-part series.

The Best Combination of Leadership and Organizational Culture

Leadership and organizational culture are two very important parts of I-O Psychology. Yet, researchers are still discovering how the two concepts interact with each other to drive organizational performance. For example, are certain types of leaders more beneficial in certain organizational cultures? New research (Hartnell, Kinicki, Schurer Lambert, Fugate, & Doyle Corner, 2016) considers two different types of organizational culture and two different types of leadership behavior. The results show that CEO behavior can be more effective by tailoring it based on the type of organizational culture already in place.

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A Snapshot of SIOP 2016 (Pt. 2) – Business Success

Last month, I-O Psychologists met in California to share the latest cutting-edge research. The 31st annual conference of the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology (SIOP) was a huge success. We’ve partnered with numerous SIOP presenters, and they’ve provided us with the nitty-gritty on some of the very best presentations, which we now offer to you in a multi-part series.

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Leveraging Human Capital: Are Your Employees Getting Enough Sleep?

Human capital refers to specific employee characteristics that can make a business successful. Traditionally, industrial-organizational psychologists have used the acronym “KSAO”, which stands for knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics, to classify an employee’s work-related capabilities. When these KSAOs are useful for an organization’s overall economic outcomes, they are considered human capital.

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Will Being an Average Performer Prevent Employee Victimization?

There has been a surge of interest in research on employee victimization in the last few years, both because the phenomenon is on the rise and because of the negative effects it has on both a personal and organizational level. Employee victimization has many causes and takes many forms, from aggressive incivility and bullying to general mistreatment.

Although previous studies investigated the situational and personal factors that precipitate victimization, little research has been focused on the behaviors that may lead to someone getting targeted.

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Creativity and Firm Performance

The impact of creativity on firm performance depends on the riskiness of a firm’s strategy, the firm’s size, and the ability of the firm’s employees to transform creative ideas into new products and services, according to a study by Yaping Gong, Jing Zhou, & Song Chang. When a company has a risky strategy, creativity leads to decreased firm performance. On the other hand, creativity leads to increased firm performance when the size of the company is small or when a company has a high capacity to transform creative ideas into novel products and services (a.k.a., absorptive capacity).

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When Retailers Screw Up: How Can they Win Customers Back? (IO Psychology)

Retailers aren’t perfect. When they screw up, how do they try to get you to fall in love with them again?

Science to the rescue! In this study, researchers investigated customers’ spending after filing of a customer service complaint to a grocery retailer. Some customers received a coupon after complaining. Some didn’t. Some customers received a quick response from the retailer. Others received a slower response. Overall, they found that those who received the coupon actually spent less after filing their complaint, and those who received a quick response spent more in the time following.

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Good Stats Make Us Uncomfortable (IO Psychology)

Topic: Organizational Performance, Statistics, Strategic HR
Publication: Harvard Business Review (OCT 2012)
Article: The True Measures of Success
Authors: M. J. Mauboussin
Reviewed By: Megan Leasher

Down2In striving for profitability, companies often rely on key indicators of organizational performance.  Common indicators like sales growth, customer loyalty, and earnings per share often guide strategy decisions and resource allocation.  But sometimes key indicators may not be that “key” after all.  They may have little or no true connection to profitability.

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Getting by Giving: Why Leaders Succeed by Serving (IO Psychology)

Topic: Leadership, Organizational Performance
Publication: Personnel Psychology
Article: CEO Servant Leadership: Exploring Executive Characteristics and Firm Performance
Authors: Peterson, S. J., Galvin, B. M., Lange, D.
Reviewer: Neil Morelli


Sometimes you have to give more to get more. The same is true when it comes to how CEOs lead their company and how well their company performs. According to Peterson and her colleagues, when the CEO (usually the most powerful and influential player in the organization) demonstrates servant leadership their firm becomes more successful.

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Why Should Managers Care about Being Fair? (Human Resource Management)

Topic: Fairness, Organizational Justice, Organizational Performance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology
Article: Fairness at the collective level: A meta-analytic examination of the
consequences and boundary conditions of organizational justice climate.
Authors: Whitman, D. S., Caleo, S., Carpenter, N. C., Horner, M. T., and Bernerth, J.
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Reviewer: Neil Morelli

Organizational justice, or how fairly an organization treats its workers, is a big deal to employees. To an individual employee, organizational justice helps determine his or her attitude about the job and as well as his or her productivity. But this perception doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Because this perception is often shared with co-workers and team members, called justice climate, Whitman and his co-authors conducted a meta-analysis to summarize and clarify how organizational justice climate exists at the team (unit) level and can influence team effectiveness.

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Improve service climate to retain customers and increase profitability

Topic: Organizational Performance, Strategic HR
Publication: Human Resource Management (MAY/JUNE 2011)
Article: The service climate-firm performance chain: The role of customer retention
Authors: Towler, A., Lezotte, D. V., & Burke, M. J.
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

When an organization wants to improve customer retention and therefore its profitability, it will often turn to marketing. But could HR provide another option? In this study, Towler, Lezotte, and Burke (2011) tested a model of the way in which service climate (conceptualized and measured by concern for employees and concern for customers) affects profitability.

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Increase generic human capital to increase unit-specific human capital

Topic: Organizational Performance, Talent Management, Strategic HR
Publication: Academy of Management Journal (APR 2011)
Article: Acquiring and developing human capital in service contexts: The interconnectedness of human capital resources
Authors: Ployhart, R. E., Van Iddekinge, C. H., & MacKenzie, W. I.
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

It is widely acknowledged that human capital is important, but does it matter whether the capital is generic (transferable to other organizations) or unit-specific (valuable to that particular work unit and not to others)? In this article, Ployhart, Van Iddekinge, and MacKenzie (2011) assessed both generic and unit-specific human capital in a large fast-food organization. They created and tested a model for how the two kinds of human capital relate to each other and to performance and effectiveness outcomes.

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What are the performance implications of your organization’s culture?

Topic: Culture, Human Resources, Organizational Performance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (JULY 2011)
Article: Organizational Culture and Organizational Effectiveness: A Meta-Analytic Investigation of the Competing Values Framework’s Theoretical Suppositions
Authors: Hartnell, C.A., Ou, A.Y., & Kinicki, A.
Reviewer: Neil Morelli

Try to define your organization’s culture in one word… The word you came up with may be a predictor of how your organization is performing. Although organizational culture is assumed to be a key component of organizational effectiveness, the theoretical connection between these two important concepts remains fuzzy. Hartnell, Ou, and Kinicki conducted a meta-analysis to explore how a prolific taxonomy of organizational cultures, called the competing values framework (CVF), may help connect our understanding of organizational culture to organizational effectiveness.

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Put a Frame on It! Goal Framing to Improve Performance

Topic: Motivation, Organizational Performance, Human Resources
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology
Article: Managing joint production motivation: The role of goal framing and governance mechanisms.
Authors: S. Lindenberg, N. J. Foss
Reviewer: Rachel Marsh

Organizations often have many goals. The organization has a goal, the department has goals and each individual has their own goals. But how often to those goals align? Lindenberg and Foss argue that to get the most out of your employees you need to align all these goals, and set up governance mechanisms that support the alignment of goals. They suggest you can do this by utilizing goal framing theory.

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Do you care about human capital? You should!

Topic: Organizational Performance, Talent Management, Strategic HR
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (MAY 2011)
Article: Does human capital matter? A meta-analysis of the relationship between human capital and firm performance
Authors: Crook, T. R., Todd, S. Y., Combs, J. G., Woehr, D. J., & Ketchen, D. J.
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

It is often assumed that human capital is related to organizational performance, but the research literature provides mixed support for that assumption. In this article, the authors conducted a meta-analysis of 66 studies to clarify the seemingly contradictory research on the relationship between human capital and firm performance.

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Want CEO Success? Then Focus on Task and Performance

Topic: Leadership, Organizational Performance
Publication: The Leadership Quarterly (FEB 2011)
Article: CEO leadership behaviors, organizational performance, and employee’s attitudes
Authors: Hui Wang, Anne S. Tsui, & Katherine R. Xin
Reviewed by: Chelsea Rowe

In a study of top and middle managers (CEOs, VPs, and senior managers) in 125 Chinese firms, Wang, Tsui, and Xin (2011) investigated the degree to which CEO leadership behavior influenced the performance of the firm.  They took this a step further, also looking at the degree to which employee perceptions of the CEO impacted firm performance.  Firm performance was measured in terms of profitability, asset & sales growth, market share, and competitive status within the industry.

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Increasing manager discretion? Better make sure they have some experience!

Topic: Organizational Performance
Publication: Human Resource Management (JAN 2011)
Article: Testing alternative predictions for the performance consequences of middle manager discretion
Authors: A. Caza
Reviewed By: Rebecca Eckart

Today’s organizations are simplifying their hierarchical structures in order to increase efficiency, responsiveness, innovation, and knowledge sharing. In fact, flatter organizations are thought to be associated with a number of advantageous outcomes, one of which includes increased manager discretion. Discretion is defined as the manager’s authority to act, manage, and make decisions in ways that he/she deems most appropriate for the organization.

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How Important is The Store Manager?

Topic: Organizational Performance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (MAY 2010)
Article: Store manager performance and satisfaction: Effects on store employee performance and satisfaction, store customer satisfaction, and store customer spending growth
Authors: R.G. Netemeyer, J.G. Maxham III, D.R. Lichtenstein
Reviewed By: Allison Gabriel

How many times do you frequently interact with a store manager when picking up your morning coffee? How about when you run to the store to grab some last minute groceries for dinner? The fact is, most of us are used to interacting with service employees, with the assumption that the store manager is in the background informing them of how to interact with customers. Research typically supports this view, believing that store manager’s actions impact their employees, and that these employees subsequently impact customer outcomes (e.g., customer satisfaction) and, ultimately the store’s performance. However, is it possible that store managers have their own impact on customers beyond that of their employees?

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The Employee Network: to Keep or Not to Keep Under the Radar

Topic: Organizational PerformanceChange Management
Publication: Harvard Business Review (MAR 2010)
Article: Harnessing your staff’s informal networks
Authors: R. McDermott, D. Archibald
Reviewed by: Liz Brashier

Communities of practice are voluntary, informal employee networks where experts
can share knowledge and information, and it’s in these groups that employees form innovative solutions to real organizational problems. While in the past, these informal networks have succeeded on their own, this is no longer the case; these networks function best when they have management on board. McDermott and Archibald (2010) examine the status of communities of practice at companies including Pfizer, Fluor, and Conoco Phillips, and have concrete directions for guiding the once under-the-radar employee network.

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Diversity in the Board Room

Topic: Diversity, Organizational Performance
Publication: Journal of Management Studies (JUL 2009)
Article: Demographic Diversity in the Boardroom: Mediators of the Board Diversity–Firm Performance Relationship.
Authors: Miller, T. and Triana, M.
Reviewed By: Samantha Paustian-Underdahl

As more women and racial minorities are making strides in the boardroom, many businesses are beginning to consider the outcomes of board diversity on the financial performance of firms. Most academic research on board diversity has resulted in complex findings – with some researchers seeing a positive relationship between demographic board diversity and firm performance, while other researchers have seen a negative relationship or no relationship at all. Miller and Triana suggest that there are intervening or mediating factors – such as firm innovation and reputation – that need to be examined in order to gain a better understanding of these complex relationships.

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Organizational Politics: A Ubiquitous Evil

Topic: Organizational Performance, Job Attitudes
Publication: Academy of Management Journal (DEC 2009)
Article: The relationship between perceptions of organizational politics and employee attitudes, strain and behavior: A meta-analytic examination.
Authors: C-H. Chang, C. C. Rosen, & P. E. Levy
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Organizational politics refer to activities that individuals engage in to gain resources for themselves and select individuals – and many such activities are not sanctioned by organizations. Although some political activity is necessary (e.g., for group or team formation), much of it comes at the cost of the organization or other employees within the organization.

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Slamming the Door on Performance Reviews

Topic: Assessment, Organizational Performance, Performance Appraisal
Publication: Wall Street journal
ArticleGet rid of the performance review. 
Author: S.A. Culbert
Feature by: Benjamin Granger

Annual pay and performance reviews are rarely fun (We can all attest to that!).  But it remains a common practice in many organizations.  Surely there’s a good reason why we have to go through this sometimes painful process (“my review is today, I can’t wait to hear about all my weaknesses!”).  Although performance appraisals (PAs) are usually intended to help with pay and promotion decisions as well as help employees develop, some experts find PAs to be downright silly!

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Venture Capital…and I/O?

Topic: Change, Organizational Development, Organizational Performance
Publication: Administrative Science Quarterly
Article: Bringing the context back in: Settings and the search for syndicate partners in venture capital investment networks.
Blogger: Rob Stilson

All right, so let me get the “summary” part of this out of the way first. A recent study by Sorenson and Stuart (2008) presented an elaborate and, at times, complicated peek into the mechanisms through which venture capital firms form syndicates with other venture capital firms when investing in start-up companies. Based on some person-level theories of relationship building, the specific aim of the  researchers was to describe how characteristics of the investment situation (which included variables such as how “fashionable” the targeted industry was at the time of investment, the maturity of the target company, the size of the investment syndicate, and the density of relationships among members of the syndicate) influenced the likelihood of syndicate formation across “social distance” (defined as the similarity of investment histories between two firms and previous experience with each other, among other things). Breaking down the main findings, it was reported that venture capital firms were more likely to create distant ties with other firms when:

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Read you like a book: Employee attributes of HR practices

Topic: Job Attitudes, Organizational Performance, Strategic HR
Publication: Personnel Psychology
Article: Employee attributions of the “why” of HR practices: Their effects on employee attitudes and behaviors, and customer satisfaction.
Blogger: Benjamin Granger

A recent article by Nishii and colleagues explores how employees’ beliefs about “why” management employs certain HR practices (training, payment, selection, etc.) affect organizational performance.  Although the hypothesized model and subsequent methodology are somewhat complicated, the major research findings are fairly intuitive:

Employees make one of two attributions about why a company performs its HR practices the way it does:

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In the name of the cubicle, the computer, and the conference call, Amen.

Topic: Motivation, Organizational Performance, Work Environment
Publication: Journal of Organizational Change Management
Article: Workplace Spirituality and Organizational Commitment: An Empirical Study.
Blogger: LitDigger

Much academic literature investigating workplace performance overlooks the element of employee spirituality, but Rego and Cunha (2008) recently dared to venture into this unfamiliar territory. They found that workplace spirituality is related to employees’ organizational commitment.

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Arranging the Top Dogs for Maximum Effectiveness

Topic: TeamsOrganizational Performance
Publication: The Academy of Management Journal
Article: Top management team functional background diversity and firm performance.
Blogger: Benjamin Granger

A key factor that can have a direct effect on an organization’s overall performance is the composition of its top managers.  Teams of top leaders are commonly referred to as top management teams (TMT), and researchers have investigated how various aspects of an organization’s TMT effect its overall performance.

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If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours – unless your hands are covered in thorns.

Topic: Change Management, Job Attitudes, Organizational Performance
Publication: Journal of Business Research
Article:  Exploring civic virtue and turnover intention during organizational changes. 
Blogger: LitDigger

If you buy me a coffee, I’ll tell you what I know. If you cover my shift, I’ll cover yours next week.  If you buy me dinner, in turn I will . . . never mind, you get the picture.Reciprocity is a critical element to any social relationship.  The same holds true for employee-employer relationships.

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