2021 “Responsible Research in Management” Award Finalists (8)


Plastic pollution is concerning to many but turning such anxiety into concrete action is challenging. We studied how anti-plastic pollution activists used multimodal interactions (combining pictures and words) to influence potential supporters to support their cause on social media. The social entrepreneurs we studied used what we call ‘emotion-symbolic work’: presenting evocative visuals to elicit intense negative emotions including shock, anger and grief, then transforming those emotions into positive emotions and the emotional energy needed for their supporters to act. The emotional transformation process we studied involved connecting the target actors to a cause (fighting plastic pollution), a collective identity (‘we are all together in reducing plastic pollution’) and the social entrepreneurs themselves (these activists are our leaders). Emotion-symbolic work emphasizes the importance of emotions and emotional energy to influence target actors to enact a cause, and the role of multimodal interactions for emotions. Through our work, we impact social entrepreneurs by helping them to develop better influence strategies, especially through social media. Our work has been featured by industry associations and corporations, mass media, keynote speeches and teaching. Knowing more about how to mobilize societal concern about global challenges is an important step to more responsible management practices.


In this work, we examine how decision support systems can be used by medical practitioners to ameliorate racial bias in amputation rates for diabetes patients. As is well known, Black patients are significantly more likely to have their limbs amputated (even when conditioned upon co-morbidities). Yet, the role information systems and the digitization of care will play in affecting these biases is ambiguous. On the one hand, algorithmic decision making has been shown to harshly punish social outgroups. On the other, algorithmic data collection can ensure the complete gathering of a person’s information, thereby preventing decision makers from “filling-in” gaps in knowledge with potentially prejudicial data. Findings from the study of nearly 80,000 patients show that such systems can significantly reduce bias in amputation rates. Further, they indicate that when Black patients are successfully revascularized, there is no long-term difference in eventual amputation rates. These results underscore that when decision making is not turned into an algorithmic black box but is instead used to generate a complete picture of patients, biases can be ameliorated. To the extent that mitigating racial bias in healthcare is to the broader good of society, this work pushes a more equitable society for all.


Whereas extensive research has examined the “Glass Ceiling” faced by women, little research has examined the “Bamboo Ceiling,” whereby Asians appear disproportionately under-represented in leadership positions in the United States. To investigate the mechanisms and scope of this problem, we compared the two largest Asian subgroups: East Asians and South Asians. Across nine studies (N = 11,030), East Asians were less likely than South Asians and Whites to attain leadership positions, whereas South Asians outperformed Whites. The leadership attainment gap between East Asians and South Asians was consistently explained by cultural differences in assertiveness, but not by prejudice or motivation. To leverage diverse leadership talent, organizations should understand the differences among different cultural groups and diversify the prototype of leadership.


Although the administrative costs plaguing U.S. healthcare have been oft studied, one overlooked burden has been the effects of dealing with health insurance benefits administrators by employees. Using representative sample surveys conducted by the Gallup organization, we asked how much time they spent on the phone with their health insurer in the past week. Approximately 13 percent reported spending time on the phone, spending 30 minutes on average. Fifty-three percent of people reported spending time while at work. Using U.S. Census estimates of the size of the workforce and average wages, we estimated that the direct cost of time spent dealing with insurance hassles was $21.6 billion ($11.4 billion while at work).  Moreover, we found that people who had spent time on the phone with health benefits administrators were more stressed, burned out, and more likely to have missed a day of work, and were less engaged and less satisfied with their current workplace compared to those who had not spent time on health insurance hassles. The cost of missed workdays was $26.4 billion and the cost of reduced job satisfaction was $95.6 billion. Health benefits administration is beset by administrative “sludge” that adversely affects individuals and their employers.


The COVID outbreak in 2019 spotlights the need for effective leadership in a crisis. COVID-19 was an exogenous shock that dramatically affected individuals, organizations, and societies. We used this life-and-death pandemic to examine a growing question in the literature – whether women are more effective leaders than men in a crisis. We focused on United States governors for they face extraordinary leadership trials during the pandemic. This study took a multi-method approach by including a quantitative examination of governor gender as it relates to COVID-19 deaths and a qualitative approach by analyzing hundreds of governor briefings (over 1.2 million words). We found a) women’s leadership is associated with fewer COVID-19 deaths, b) women leaders express more empathy by relating to followers’ feelings and concerns, and c) women leaders express more confidence in a brighter future. States with women governors had fewer COVID-19 deaths compared to states with male governors. In addition, states with women governors who issued an early stay-at-home order had fewer COVID-19 deaths compared to states with men governors who issued the same order. This suggests that residents might have responded to early orders from women with greater volitional compliance than to orders by men, ultimately saving lives.


“Microfoundations of Corporate Social Responsibility and Irresponsibility” examines the fundamental question of how individuals view and evaluate companies engaging in socially responsible (CSR) and irresponsible (CSI) business practices. Taking an interdisciplinary perspective, we draw on the social psychology literature on stereotypes to examine whether the two fundamental dimensions of social perception—warmth and competence—help explain the underlying processes and conditions under which CSR and CSI lead to different organizational outcomes – rewards and penalties in corporate reputation and customer purchase intentions. Across three experiments, we link CSR to higher warmth and competence, and then demonstrate how such perceptions interact with firm-level attributes. By varying the firm country of origin across the dimensions of warmth and competence (e.g., Germany, Portugal, Pakistan, the U.S.), we show that CSR rewards and CSI penalties differ depending on the (mis)alignment of CSR strategy with country stereotypes, such that firms from high-warmth countries receive lower CSR rewards and pay higher CSI penalties than firms from low-warmth countries. This nuanced understanding of microfoundations of CSR and CSI highlights the processes by which their different perceptions are formed, and the mechanisms for generating value from both CSR and CSI contingent on an organization’s baseline warmth and competence.


Wang, Raynard, and Greenwood (in press) examine how the once prestigious medical profession in China has become criticized to the point of inducing widespread violence by patients. Through a longitudinal case study, the paper derives a process model of the stigmatization of a profession, which theorizes the role of different stakeholders, and the dynamics and mechanisms implicated in the fall from grace of a respected profession. The model highlights the complexity of stigmatization processes: they may be partial in their focus upon certain aspects of professional behavior; they may involve multiple stakeholders suggesting the potential for an ongoing struggle between competing perspectives; and the processes may be affected by the actions (or inaction) and countermoves of stakeholders as they respond to unfolding events. The study reveals the growing incidence of violence against physicians across the globe and, more broadly, the stigmatization of professions. Given that professions are basic societal institutions, any collapse of confidence in them may have profound consequences not only for those directly affected but also for social stability. In this respect, the study tackles a “grand challenge” that matters to business and the broader society but is still disquietingly neglected.


Places of social inclusion are venues where society grapples with citizens’ medical emergencies, extreme poverty, hunger, and needs for shelter and asylum. Public libraries, schools, emergency departments, and sanctuary cities are examples. These places can easily become political and ideological flashpoints. They have distinct geographic locations, guarantee inclusion to all citizens, are invested with meaning, and are inherently precarious because they face wicked problems. We studied one place of social inclusion — the Emergency Department of an Australian inner-city hospital over a six-month period, shadowing doctors and nurses responding to patients seeking acute medical care. We collected observational, interview and archival data, including 210 hours of in-person observation and 89 interviews with emergency physicians, residents, nurses, and hospital executives. During our data collection, the 2014 Ebola outbreak occurred. The government designated our field site a national Ebola treatment hospital, and the precarious and fragile state of the Emergency Department was cast into bold relief. We develop a process model explaining how places of social inclusion, when disrupted by environmental jolts, can be restored and maintained by “custodians.” Our study portrays custodians at work balancing resources, fear, moral emotions, and risks while they pursue societal values of inclusion in precarious places.