Research in Progress

Making the customer “pay”: Gender differences and the role of revenge (with Danielle van Jaarsveld)


In this research we are interested in understanding how service employees’ retaliatory reactions such as verbal aggression and sabotage towards mistreating-uncivil or aggressive-customers differ as a result of their gender and customer orientation.   We use conservation of resources theory as well as gender role theory and argue that men are more likely to retaliate against uncivil customers relative to women but retaliatory behaviors would not differ as a result of employee gender.  We also examine the role of desire for revenge in the relationship between customer mistreatment and employee retaliation.  We are testing our hypotheses using two separate data sets: 1) parking officers 2) call center employees.

Pride and Prejudice: Organizational Identity Categories and Matching in Labor Markets (with Özgecan Koçak, Çağla Bozer, and Nazlı Fikriye Şenol)

We build on studies of organizational identification and typecasting to propose that organizational identity categories serve as a matching device in labor markets. Using card sorting techniques, we find considerable consensus on organizational identity categories among participants in the Turkish banking labor market. We show that mobility in this market and preferences of employees for banks are shaped by these categories and the distance between organizations in this categorical identity space. Distinctiveness of identity categories accentuates categorical effects. Labor market identity categories are moderately associated with niches that banks occupy in product market space but the effect of organizational identities on individuals’ preference for banks and mobility across them is independent of this association. Individuals express greater preference for working in organizations that are more distant in product market space but closer in identity space. Moreover, unlike occupational identities studied in the typecasting literature, organizational identities have a greater influence on preferences of higher ranking compared to lower ranking employees, and their effect is robust to tenure effects.


Workplace Performance Consequences of Pay Dispersion: The Roles of Incentive Systems Coverage and Gender Composition (with Danielle van Jaarsveld and Dennis Ma)


At the organizational level of analysis, previous research suggests that the relationship between pay dispersion and organizational performance vary according to the legitimacy of the reason for pay differentials. Pay dispersion explained by legitimate sources (e.g., performance) is positively related to organizational performance (Shaw et al., 2002; Kepes, et al. 2009), whereas dispersion unexplained by legitimate sources (Trevor et al., 2012), or explained by illegitimate sources such as politics or discrimination (Kepes et al., 2009) is unrelated or negatively related to performance outcomes. Furthermore, higher levels of legitimate pay dispersion have been found to be related to the voluntary turnover of poor performing employees and the retention of high performing employees (Trevor et al., 2012).  Previous researchers focused on individual pay for performance plans such as merit pay increases or performance bonuses as a dispersion-creating practice. Shaw (2014) recently called for researchers to investigate organizational practices, other than individual pay for performance plans that can legitimize or delegitimize various types of pay dispersion.

One avenue that has been overlooked by pay dispersion research is collective incentive systems which refer to group level plans (e.g., gainsharing) as well as organization level plans (e.g., profit sharing). Collective incentives are generally utilized to enhance cooperation and balance the competitive spirits created by individual incentives. Therefore, investigating individual incentives’ role in performance consequences of pay dispersion alone may hide the potential role of collective incentives. While individual incentives are provided on the basis of relative differences in individual performance levels, collective incentives are generally provided for improvements in group or organizational performance levels over time (e.g., gains in productivity in an assembly line; organizational annual profits).  Under such systems, all employees covered by the plan receive a reward (usually commensurate with their pay grade) once the group or organization reaches a predetermined performance goal. In that sense collective incentives would match a low pay dispersion in that both can reflect an egalitarian workplace. Therefore, in this research we are examining the roles played by the percentage of employees covered by collective incentive and individual incentive systems on the workplace performance effects of different levels of overall pay dispersion. We plan to test our hypotheses using the Canadian Workplace and Employee Survey (WES) available from the Statistics Canada Research Data Centre.

In examining the relationship between pay dispersion and workplace performance under collective incentive plans, we foresee at least one boundary condition around the matching effect between overall pay structures and incentive systems: the gender composition of the workplace.  According to gender socialization research, the female peer culture values equality, whereas the male peer culture is comfortable with more welcoming to competition and hierarchical rankings (Lee et al., 2016; van Vianen and Fischer, 2002). We expect that as the percentage of female employees in the workplace increases, the effectiveness of the matching effect of compressed pay dispersion and collective incentive system coverage also increases. We expect the opposite to be true for male dominated workplaces; their performance will be higher when high overall pay dispersion is matched with high degree of individual incentive system utilization.

We are also interested in testing indirect effects using theoretically meaningful mediator variables. Theoretically plausible mediating mechanism between pay dispersion and workplace performance come from Hirschmann (1970) in his attempt to explain general responses to organizational decline. These include a recommended typology of responses: exit, voice, neglect, and loyalty that employees can have in response to illegitimate pay dispersion. We will examine the first three responses. When pay dispersion is not legitimized by individual differences in performance/inputs, relative deprivation theory as well as equity theory suggests that employees are more likely to be motivated to respond to rebalance the equity caused by the unfair distribution of pay. We expect illegitimate pay dispersion to be directly related to higher levels of voluntary turnover (exit), number of days lost to industrial action (voice), and employees’ absenteeism (neglect). We expect these mediating variables, in turn, to be negatively related to workplace performance. We also expect that employees’ level of participation in the workplace through suggestion programs and membership in teams would be higher (controlling for the availability of such means of participation in the workplace) when high pay dispersion can be explained using the utilization of individual and merit- or skill-based incentive systems.  We also expect that employees are more likely to enroll in self-paid career related training (controlling for the availability of employer-sponsored on- and off-the-job training) when there are high levels of pay dispersion in the workplace that can be explained by the utilization of individual-based incentives.


Pay Dispersion and Performance in Teams (with Fırat İnceoğlu)


Compensation policy experts generally agree that pay structure and more specifically pay distribution decisions are important for organizational success since they believe that individuals care a great deal more about their relative economic position than about their absolute economic position (Clark & Oswald, 1996).   However, these same experts tend to disagree on how to distribute pay across individuals. Traditionally two theoretical models, tournament and teamwork, guided their decisions and captured the attention of researchers. According to the tournament model, high pay differentials, which are indicative of differences in past performance, human capital and work responsibility, are considered to have positive consequences for both individual and group performance (Lazear & Rosen, 1981).  On the other hand, the opposing model, referred to as the teamwork model or ?pay compression hypothesis,? suggests a compressed pay distribution with minimal pay differentials between individuals in different pay levels, positions or with different performance levels (Akerloff & Yellen, 1990; Levine, 1991; Martin, 1981; Milgrom & Roberts, 1990).   Empirical studies testing the validity of these theoretical models provide mixed or null results (see, Gerhart & Rynes, 2003).

In an attempt to reconcile the theoretical and empirical literature we argue that when high pay dispersion is based on, or congruent with a legitimate and stable status hierarchy, it would not affect members? performance negatively, and in fact, it may have positive effects. When a few members of the team (i.e., a nucleus) have clearly higher global status relative to other members (i.e., surrounding cast), teams might benefit from clear distribution of roles and smoother interactions between members. However, if high pay dispersion exists when there are more than a few members with similar social status, a legitimate status hierarchy might not yet be established, presumably leading members to fight for status or to withdraw from the team, conditions detrimental for performance.   We test our arguments using archival data on National Basketball Association (NBA) teams, and their players from 1999-2000 to 2009-2010 season. We have chosen to study professional basketball teams as they epitomize reciprocal interdependence (Keidel, 1984) but also characterize a setting where individual talent, a status characteristic, plays a very important role in personnel decisions (e.g., Staw & Hoang, 1995).


A Multilevel Test of Siegrist’s Effort-Reward Imbalance Model: Implications for Work-Family Conflict (with Tove H. Hammer and Per Øystein Saksvik)


We tested a multilevel expansion of Siegrist’s (1996, 2000) effort-reward imbalance (ERI) model of employee wellbeing in 49 manufacturing firms in Norway.  We propose organizational norms and workplace ERI (distributive justice climate) as cross-level moderators of the individual ERI and work-family conflict relationship.   Results of a hierarchical linear model showed that relative ERI at the individual level predicts work-t-o-family conflict and both performance norms and workplace ERI moderates this relationship controlling for overcommitment.


Goal-related Psychological Empowerment and Goal Commitment: A Field Study (with Eda Aksoy)


Psychological empowerment is considered to be an indicator of autonomous motivation in organizational life.  Psychologically empowered employees are more likely to internalize organizational objectives and to feel competent and in control in their jobs.  In this study we set out to understand various psychosocial factors that increase employee empowerment as well as understand how it relates to employees’ goal commitment in an actual management by objectives program in a field setting.   We have collected data from 248 mid level managers from 36 different departments in 6 different companies of one large holding company which implemented a management by objectives program using a balanced scorecard approach (customer goals, process goals, finance goals).     We hypothesized and tested five psychosocial predictors including; trust in top management, transformational leadership, procedural justice, and informational justice and social influence, as well as goal specificity and achievement striving.   In addition, we examined the relationship between empowerment and goal commitment and hypothesized a three way interaction of empowerment with goal difficulty and achievement striving.   We argue that empowerment is more likely to be related to goal commitment when there is a match between the difficulty of the goal and the achievement temperament of the employee (easy goals and low achievement striving or difficult goals and high achievement striving).