A selection of interesting research and articles we found recently.

Managers’ empathy and wage cuts in difficult times
Joerg Dietz and Emmanuelle Kleinlogel hypothesized that empathy affects decisions in ethical dilemmas that concern the well-being of not only the organization, but also of other stakeholders. They found that empathetic managers were less likely to comply with requests by an authority figure to cut the wages of their employees than were non-empathetic managers. However, when an authority figure requested to hold wages constant, empathy did not affect wage cut decisions. These findings imply that empathy can serve as a safeguard for ethical decision making in organizations during trying times without generally undermining organizational effectiveness.

For the implications of the findings and the full paper, see: Joerg Dietz and Emmanuelle P. Kleinlogel. 2014. Wage Cuts and Managers’ Empathy: How a Positive Emotion Can Contribute to Positive Organizational Ethics in Difficult Times.
Journal of Business Ethics, 119(4), 461-472.


Is managerial courage in the eye of the beholder?
Michelle Harbour and Veronika Kisfalvi looked at courage in a strategic decision-making context by focusing on the cognitive structures and subjective understandings of managers and administrators involved in merger projects. This study makes several contributions, according to the authors: it shows that managers consider courage to have a moral dimension, e.g., to be a positive and ethical response to a risky or difficult situation in which there is an interplay between organizational and personal interests; it identifies two kinds of managerial moral courage; it proposes a conceptual model with which to understand how evaluations of what is courageous and what is not are made; and finally, it offers four schemas developed from the data that add to our understanding of moral courage in management.

For more detail, see: Michelle Harbour and Veronika Kisfalvi. 2014. In the Eye of the Beholder: An Exploration of Managerial Courage.
Journal of Business Ethics, 119(4), 493-515.


Which is worse: negative corporate ability or negative CSR reputation in a product-harm crisis?
Sora Kim examined the consequences of (a) having positive prior corporate associations and (b) negative prior corporate associations in times of product-harm crisis by looking at corporate ability vs. corporate social responsibility. The findings indicate that the disadvantages of having negative prior corporate ability (CA) are bigger than having negative corporate social responsibility (CSR) associations in times of a product-harm crisis. Furthermore, the advantages of having positive prior CSR associations are bigger than having positive CA associations.

For guidelines on how to manage reputational strengths and weaknesses prior to a crisis as part of reputation and crisis management, see: Sora Kim. 2014. What’s Worse in Times of Product-Harm Crisis? Negative Corporate Ability or Negative CSR Reputation?
Journal of Business Ethics, 123(1), 157-170.


Organizational munificence at the time of hire affects subsequent job performance
In a longitudinal study of professionals in two information technology services firms, as well as via interview data, András Tilcsik shows how organizational fortunes influence individual performance over time. He examined how the economic situation of an organization leaves a lasting imprint on new employees and how that imprint affects subsequent job performance. The core hypothesis, supported by the results, is that the more similar the initially experienced level of organizational munificence is to the level of munificence in a subsequent period, the higher an individual’s job performance. This relationship between what he calls “imprint–environment fit”.

Furthermore, performance is contingent on the individual’s career stage when entering the organization and the influence of secondhand imprinting resulting from the social transmission of others’ imprints. A possible implication of the core hypothesis may be a “curse of extremes,” whereby both very high and very low levels of initial munificence are associated with lower average performance during a person’s subsequent tenure. One mechanism underlying these patterns is that employees socialized in different resource environments develop distinct approaches to problem solving and client interactions, which then lead to varying levels of imprint–environment fit in subsequent resource environments.

You can find more details at: András Tilcsik. 2014. Imprint–environment Fit and Performance: How Organizational Munificence at the Time of Hire Affects Subsequent Job Performance.
Administrative Science Quarterly, 59(4), 639-668.