Three Human Resource Management (HRM) professors from Temple University’s Fox School of Business recently co-authored a paper that was published in the December 2015 edition of the Journal of Employment Counseling. Dr. Tony Petrucci, Dr. Gary Blau, and Dr. John McClendon’s paper, titled, ‘’Effect of Age, Length of Unemployment, and Problem-Focused Coping on Positive Reemployment Expectations,” explores the impact of age, length of unemployment, and the coping behaviors on re-employment expectations during the great recession. Given the extreme nature of recession that began in 2008, every professional is inevitably vulnerable to the possibility of unemployment, the professors said. In President Obama’s recent State of the Union Address, delivered Jan. 13, 2016, he noted current job creation and a decreasing unemployment rate in America. Despite this, Obama recommended programs train the unemployed on how to get back into the job force as a strong investment for America’s future.
While most studies have focused on lower-level workers and on short-term unemployment, Petrucci, Blau, and McClendon felt compelled to examine higher-level employees and managers, and long-term unemployment.The professors sampled unemployed professionals of all ages who maintained different position levels within organizations prior to their unemployment, including vice presidents, high-ranking executives, middle management, hourly workers, supervisors, and more. The sample contained 65 percent long-term unemployed professionals, including 23 percent being unemployed for more than two years.“Our study found that length of unemployment, networking comfort, and job-search confidence were significant in a regression and age was not,” said Petrucci, the lead author for the study. “Regardless of age, if you are comfortable networking and have confidence in your ability to conduct an effective job search, you may have higher expectations for re-employment.”Conversely, the professors discovered that the longer one is unemployed, the less confidence one may have about the process of finding a new job and the lower one’s expectations for re-employment may become.
“Becoming unemployed can be very difficult for many workers, especially if they have dependents or have high-paying jobs,” Blau said.Upper-level employees often find it challenging to find comparable positions in their respective fields. The professors were in agreement with President Obama, that programs should be put in place to teach employees how to build transferable skills set, beyond what an employing organization provides.“If (a company is) suddenly downsized, it will be easier for job-loss victims to successfully cope with their new job search,” Blau said. “Very few workers are immune from sudden job loss.”Though a long period of unemployment generally leads to a pessimistic attitude, Petrucci also noted that training workers to be more optimistic about re-employment tends to lead to higher rates of re-employment.
Given the low level of unemployment, the professors aren’t currently planning to pursue this line of research again soon. However, their findings greatly expanded the literature on unemployment given its extremely unique sample population.
Caitlyn Jenner identifies as transgender. Tiger Woods identifies as “Cablinasian,” a term he created.
What do the television personality and champion golfer have in common? Their racial and gender identities are not easily defined.
Like Jenner and Woods, many Americans can relate. A researcher at Temple University’s Fox School of Business posits that employment laws in the American legal system be restructured to offer civil-liberties protections for citizens who face identity discrimination.
“This isn’t a race or a gender issue. It’s an identity issue,” said Leora Eisenstadt, an Assistant Professor in Fox’s Legal Studies in Business department. “Society has changed, but our laws and legal formulas often look at individuals as members of categories into which a person can fit neatly. Today, there is no such purity. That doesn’t exist, which demonstrates how our laws are out of step with reality.”
Eisenstadt’s research points to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. She said Title VII, however, does not always or easily protect against the discrimination of multiracial or transgender individuals. Courts are often baffled by these fluid identities, she said, sometimes rejecting the cases on those grounds and, other times, ignoring the worker’s actual identity to make the legal formula work.
“Cases have been thrown out of court because the plaintiffs did not fit into a box,” Eisenstadt said. “Unfortunately, according to many courts, if you can’t prove you are a member of a single protected class, your case will not reach a jury. As a result, the law has often prompted individuals to sacrifice part of their identity in order to fit into a box and have their case heard.”
And this confusion in the courts has a negative impact on employers and employees alike, since a lack of clarity in the courts can lead to more difficult employment decisions, an inability to effectively train management and human resources professionals, and litigation that eats up precious resources.
In her research, Eisenstadt cites the United States Census and Facebook as examples of society being ahead of the courts. In 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau implemented a system in which it asked Census respondents to “check all that apply” in regard to the races with which they identify. She also called attention to Facebook. This year, the social media platform began offering its 189 million U.S. users more than 50 gender-identity options.
What these prove, Eisenstadt said, is that people cannot always be categorized so easily.
“In employment discrimination law, workers need to prove that they are a part of a protected class in order to bring a discrimination suit,” she said. “In theory, everyone is a member of a protected class. But in society today, those categories are porous and fluid. Not everybody has a single race or a gender. You might have multiple races or multiple genders or you might reject that categorization altogether.”
The American Business Law Journal recently published Eisenstadt’s theoretical research paper, titled, “Fluid Identity Discrimination.”
Eisenstadt’s research centers on employment discrimination as it relates to race and gender. In 2012, she published a theoretical research paper, titled, “The N-Word at Work: Contextualizing Language in the Workplace,” in the Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law. That paper examined the power of language, and who – based on identity – was permitted to use particular words in the workplace.
“We are moving toward an age of fluid identities, if we aren’t there already, and our employment laws have not caught up,” Eisenstadt said.
There’s an unlikely emotion that acts as the moral compass of a workplace. According to a researcher from Temple University’s Fox School of Business, it’s anger.
Dr. Deanna Geddes’ conceptual research delves into moral anger, an emotional expression that is geared toward the improvement of the human condition within the workplace. She and fellow researcher, Dr. Dirk Lindebaum of the University of Liverpool, (now Cardiff University), proposed a new definition for moral anger within their research paper, “The Place and Role of (Moral) Anger in Organizational Behavior Studies,” which was published online December 2015 in the Journal of Organizational Behavior.
The Chair of Fox’s Department of Human Resource Management, Geddes said employees potentially place at risk their jobs, careers, and companies for which they work when moral anger motivates actions that expose inappropriate circumstances at work.
Where moral anger varies from expressions of personal anger, she said, is in the identification of the subject who is suffering from workplace injustice and improprieties.
“It’s important to note that, with both moral anger and personal anger, social norms are violated and likely people were treated unfairly,” she said. “But instances of moral anger prompt action when you witness an incident that impacts someone else more than it impacts you. Speaking out on behalf of others is the core differentiator.
“Moral anger isn’t a self-serving type of anger expression. It’s the opposite. It’s someone’s response when another is being treated unfairly or being bullied, for example. Moral anger triggers corresponding action that is not intended to cause further harm, but instead to help repair the situation.”
Often an employee who expresses anger at work is viewed as “an out-of-control and hostile deviant,” Geddes notes. However, unless it’s a common occurrence, Geddes’s research found that those who express anger in the workplace are likely to be a company’s most-committed and most-loyal employees.
That’s because moral anger is a fairness-enhancing emotion, through which employees can act with the wellbeing of others in mind. Geddes said moral anger has the potential to restore equity, protect dignity, improve working conditions, and rectify damaging situations.
She and Lindebaum reviewed literatures on similar anger constructs, including those which pertained to moral outrage and moral conduct, to see how moral anger differentiated. Then, they reviewed literature pertaining to expressions of anger, to arrive at a more-practical “redefinition,” she said.
“Moral anger, by our definition, is not intended to avenge an individual person’s slights,” Geddes said. “It is to demonstrate that the human condition within an organizational environment can be improved. That’s truly the goal and the social function of moral anger – to defend those who are vulnerable.”
Initial impressions based upon a person’s facial features can significantly impact how we evaluate that person’s behavior, according to research by a professor from Temple University’s Fox School of Business.
Dr. Brian Holtz, Assistant Professor of Human Resource Management, conducted three studies, all of which suggested that people were more likely to accept the actions of an individual whom they initially perceived to be trustworthy.
New York Magazine and the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail recently featured Holtz’s research, which was initially published in the journal Personnel Psychology.
Holtz’s studies draw on prior psychological research demonstrating that certain facial features stimulate impressions of trustworthiness (high inner eyebrows and prominent cheekbones), while others (low inner eyebrows and shallow cheekbones) have the opposite effect.
In his first two studies, Holtz introduced participants to the biography of a fictitious CEO, which included a professional headshot, and then asked participants to gauge the CEO’s trustworthiness. Later, the participants read a description of a meeting in which the CEO announced a temporary pay reduction and were asked to evaluate how the CEO handled the situation. The subjects, Holtz said, were unaware that he had manipulated the CEO’s image to reflect either a trustworthy or untrustworthy face.
He found that participants who viewed the trustworthy face, tended to give the CEO the benefit of the doubt and judge the CEO’s actions to be fair. In contrast, participants who viewed an untrustworthy face evaluated the same actions to be significantly less fair.
“In essence, these results illustrate a confirmation bias, such that our initial expectations of others are often confirmed,” Holtz said. “If we expect a person to be trustworthy, for example, then we are more inclined to perceive their behavior in a favorable light.”
Participants of his third study – undergraduate students from Temple University – were asked to write a business-related memo that they were led to believe would be evaluated by a Fox School MBA student. Before writing the memo, participants viewed the LinkedIn profile of an MBA student purportedly assigned to evaluate their memo. In reality the LinkedIn profiles were fabricated to present either a trustworthy or untrustworthy face. In addition to earning research credit, participants were told they could earn a cash bonus of up to $6 depending on the quality of their memo.
Two days after the initial session, participants received a written evaluation of their memo, and were informed that they would receive a $3 cash bonus – “an ambiguous, down-the-middle ranking,” Holtz said. Then, the participants completed a questionnaire designed to assess their view of the MBA student’s evaluation of their work.
“Again, the results suggested that initial impressions of trustworthiness shaped how fairly the participants thought they were treated by the MBA student, even though all participants received the exact same outcomes,” Holtz said.
“Ultimately,” he continued, “the key takeaway point from this research is that we form initial impressions very quickly and, for better or worse, our initial impressions can have cascading effects on how we perceive subsequent interactions with others.”
A misunderstood emotion, anger plays a vital role in society, including the workplace, according to research by a professor from Temple University’s Fox School of Business.
Dr. Deanna Geddes’ research, which explores both the negative and positive aspects of emotions in the workplace, shows anger expression increasingly equated with verbal abuse or non-physical assault, rather than recognized for its social function of initiating necessary change by identifying improprieties and injustices.
Geddes’ workplace anger research was featured recently in the Financial Times. Along with her co-author Dr. Dirk Lindebaum, of the Management School at the University of Liverpool, Geddes co-chaired a showcase symposium titled, “In Defense of Anger: The Significance of an Under-Appreciated Moral Emotion” at the 74th Annual meetings of the Academy of Management which took place in Philadelphia.
Chair of Fox’s Human Resource Management department, Geddes in previous papers has proposed what she terms “a dual-threshold model” that clarifies when expression and suppression of the emotion is likely to produce positive or negative results.
For her latest research, she tapped into surveys conducted from 2003 to 2010 by the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS). Following incidents it deemed aggressive and violent, the NHS – Europe’s top employer and the fifth-largest in the world – initiated policies to quell such activity, coinciding with the launch of an advertisement campaign to caution against perpetration of verbal or physical abuse with possible litigation or intervention by authorities.
Geddes said unfortunately the NHS’ designation of verbal abuse is so “loosely defined” that any undesirable anger expression, including raising one’s voice at a caregiver could qualify as verbal abuse or non-physical assault. Calling expressed anger abuse and assault, according to her, was simply inaccurate.
“Anger expression has no inherent intention to harm,” Geddes said. “In fact, it reflects the belief that the angry individual was harmed.”
Given the results of NHS’ survey, Geddes said some response to protect NHS workers from actual assault is completely justified, but NHS went overboard.
“The No. 1 reason given for a patient’s purported verbal abuse of an NHS employee was their mental health condition, closely followed by the length of time they had waited to see a health professional, or a problem understanding instructions, or even dissatisfaction with the service they were receiving,” Geddes said. “How can a health organization threaten to arrest someone because of a mental health condition, or because of their concern over the health condition of either themselves or another?”
Geddes defended anger expression that is not simply self-serving and reasoned that its functionality should remain dependent upon a particular situation, with those in positions of power doing all they can to assist and exercise forbearance toward the angry, distressed individual.Geddes said unintended consequences that carry a societal impact arise if consumers are not permitted to express even intense emotion and dissatisfaction with service providers.
“We’re seeing more instances of this in the airline industry where complaints toward flight attendants can be reclassified as terroristic threats and passengers are themselves threatened with police involvement once off a plane,” Geddes said. “It’s a fine line, I understand, because safety issues are always going to be important and we’re not saying people should yell at a service provider. But this is intriguing and scary, that zero tolerance policies are creating a homogenous, suppressive environment for human emotion.”
Research by a professor from Temple University’s Fox School of Business found that good vibes in the workplace, unfortunately, might be good for nothing.
Dr. In-Sue Oh’s research into organizational behavior and human resources found that organizational cynicism has a greater tendency to impact an employee’s job performance than does organizational trust.
Oh’s research is featured within a co-authored paper, titled, “Antecedents and Consequences of Employee Organizational Cynicism: A Meta-Analysis,” which was published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior and featured in Human Resource Executive Online.
So in this installment of the age-old battle good vs. bad, bad likely wins out.
“Organizational cynicism and organizational trust should be the opposite of each other, but what we found is that is not the case,” said Oh, an Associate Professor of Human Resource Management. “You may trust in your organization, but that does not mean you have a lot of positive experiences or that your job performance will improve, whereas organizational cynicism is almost always based upon tangible negative experiences and will lead to a reduction in effort and harming one’s job performance.”
Before reaching that conclusion, Oh and his co-authors had to delve into the two variables at play.
Organizational trust, Oh said, is “often based upon the lack of negative experiences at work, but not necessarily based upon the presence of positive experiences.” That is almost a complete juxtaposition of their definition of organizational cynicism, which is based solely upon negative experiences.
From there, Oh and his co-authors analyzed the responses of 9,186 employees of 34 organizations, within studies conducted between 1998-2011.
“What we found was mixed,” Oh said, “in that in predicting organizational commitment or an intent to leave the organization, organizational trust is more important than organizational cynicism. Good wins out, whereas in predicting job performance, the opposite was found.”
Another interesting finding, Oh said, was uncovered in a bid to determine whether cynical people are born or made. “They’re both born and made, we found,” Oh said, “but organizational mistreatment such as injustice and lack of support has a bigger influence on organizational cynicism than individual differences like cynical personality.”
Oh suggests companies adhere to careful hiring practices, in order to screen out cynical individuals who have negative and critical tendencies.
“However, perhaps what’s more important is the need to treat employees in a fair manner and to offer them proper support,” Oh said, “because the fact remains that cynical people can develop into nice people in the organization in which they work.”
Oh co-authored the paper with Dan S. Chiaburu and Laura C. Lomeli, of Texas A&M University; Ann C. Peng, of Michigan State University; and George C. Banks, of Virginia Commonwealth University.
As the saying goes, “A group that works together, stays together.” Therefore, a group or community based on trust can reap benefits from one another. Trusting communities tend to foster self-employed people or entrepreneurs whose successes are one in the same with the community. Self-employment ranges from about 5.7 percent in areas with very low social trust to about 8.4 percent in areas with very high social trust.
Community Social Capital and Entrepreneurship, published in the American Sociological Review, examines the public good of what is called social capital — the relationship and networks of a group of people who live in and work in a particular community — to see how the benefits of social trust and organizational membership help not only the individual but also the community at large.
Seok-Woo Kwon, assistant professor in the Department of Strategic Management at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, started the research for this project 10 years ago with Colleen Heflin from the University of Missouri and Martin Ruef of Duke University.
“People have been researching a lot about the ‘If I have a lot of social capital, then I benefit from it,’” Kwon said. “For example, I get a better job, I get a quick job referral, or I have a higher chance of starting my own business. But I thought, what if I don’t have a high social capital but I’m surrounded by people who do. Their benefits are going to spill over to me.”
Kwon and his research partners tested their arguments about the communal benefits of social capital using data from the 2000 Census, Robert Putnam’s Social Capital Benchmark Survey and the National Opinion Research Center’s General Social Survey.
Their study suggests that the role social trust plays in entrepreneurship is crucial at the community level of analysis in two of the following ways: it encourages social groups to engage in the free flow of information and it helps small entrepreneurs to overcome a lack of recognizability.
Participating in voluntary associations produces social capital that benefits both the entrepreneur and the community. Because potential partners and customers for independent business owners are connected rather than isolated, they are encouraged to socialize and share ideas outside of their circles. Furthermore, these shared memberships between voluntary associations and organizations allow for the flow of word-of-mouth information.
There is a downside to this type of connectedness, however. Communities that are polarized by ethnic, political, religious or class differences tend to create homogenous organizations. Network expansion does not extend past the organization itself.
As the researchers were determining whether everyone receives an equal kind of spillover from neighbors, they found that that whites benefited from community social capital to a greater extent than minorities in the same community.
The same lack of spillover could also be seen among immigrants. This is for two reasons: immigrants have less individual-level social capital at the start than non-immigrants, and individual-level social capital is less generously compensated if a community social capital exists. This means that community-level social capital fails to spillover as much positive impacts and influences to marginal groups in the community, because some of these groups tend to be newer.
“The immediate, direct translation of this is that you’ve got to build a community with high social capital,” Kwon said. “That means building a community with a lot of trust, where people get to meet and socialize with each other. If you build that community, then everyone, not just a select few, benefits and can get information to start their own businesses.”
Research on personnel psychology and organizational behavior has demonstrated how fairness and justice engender trust in the workplace. The relationship between the two has been believed to be reciprocal, where trust is a consequence of the perceived justice – as proposed by the classic formulation of social exchange theory – and gradually expands through positive interactions. For instance, employees will trust their supervisor’s decisions more or less from evaluating the fairness of previous interactions with the supervisor.
Assistant Professor of Human Resource Management Brian Holtz takes this notion one step further and proposes the trust primacy model: a new theoretical framework that maintains that trust is formed prior to the direct interaction with others, hence exerting significant influence on employee perceptions of justice. This suggests that an opinion is formulated before the interactions among the players involved and continues to evolve and grow over time.
For his model, Holtz brings together principles of evolutionary theory, neuroscientific research, and psychological perspectives to build a strong case for the rapid development of trust and its influence on perception, resulting inevitably in preceding direct fairness experiences at the inception of relationships.
In his most recent article published in the Journal of Management, Holtz states that we determine trust through biological and sociocultural cues that can drive inferences of trustworthiness. Some of the biological cues may include facial expressions, eye contact and tone of voice. Sociocultural cues may include clothing, tattoos, credentials and socioeconomic status. Both have an effect on how we build trust toward others. His research supports neuroscientific perspectives in that people’s judgments are quick cognitions that are formed in milliseconds and through as little as a single glance, which help us infer a wide variety of information, such as the intentions of others.
Holtz has built a substantial research record founded on the principles of justice and fairness and their application to the workplace. His previous research provides a strong foundation for his proposed model, which extends existing frameworks and offers a more complete integration of the trust and justice literatures.
Holtz’s trust primacy model is the first theoretical framework to propose specific cognitive processes underlying the effect of trust on perception of justice events. Besides implications for further research, this new model brings awareness to managers and challenges organizations to strive for developing trust through clear signals right at the outset of employment relationships.
This research is reported in:
Holtz, Brian (2013).Trust primacy: a model of the reciprocal relations between trust and perceived justice. Journal of Management, 39 (7): 1891-1923, first published online on January 28, 2013.