Francesca Gino

43 Results

 

Does ‘Could’ Lead to Good? Toward a Theory of Moral Insight

When people encounter difficult ethical challenges, research has shown, they generally ask themselves the question, "What should I do?" Organizations, too, frame the principles to guide managerial conduct in terms of "should." Despite the pervasiveness of having a "should" mindset when confronting moral dilemmas, however, the authors of this paper argue that a significant class of ethical challenges, often overlooked in efforts to understand misconduct, benefit from the application of unconventional thinking. When encountering ethical dilemmas, shifting one's mindset from "What should I do?" to "What could I do?" generates moral insight, defined as the realization that ostensibly competing values are not entirely incompatible. Moral insight allows for exploration of more possible solutions beyond the apparent constraints of the problem provided, and for the formulation of creative solutions that satisfy multiple moral imperatives. Although our natural inclination is to contemplate dilemmas with a "should" mindset, the authors argue that adopting a "could" mindset opens a broader range of possibilities and brings us one step closer to moral insight. Read More

Handshaking Promotes Cooperative Dealmaking

A simple handshake can have large consequences for a negotiation. In this paper the authors suggest that handshakes before negotiations—or the lack thereof—serve as subtle but critical indicators of negotiators' social motives. In particular, handshakes signal willingness to act cooperatively during negotiations. The authors propose and show through experiments that handshakes increase cooperative behaviors at the bargaining table and, as a result, influence outcomes in both integrative and distributive negotiations. Integrative negotiations are those in which parties' interests are neither completely opposed nor completely compatible, allowing negotiators to mutually benefit by making efficient trades. In contrast, distributive or "zero-sum" negotiations—in which the parties' interests are completely opposed—are characterized by a different set of strategies such as appearing firm and even lying about one's interests. Overall, these results contribute to research and scholarship on social motives. The work also has practical implications for the importance of building rapport in negotiation and conflicts more generally. Read More

The Manager in Red Sneakers

Wearing the corporate uniform may not be the best way to dress for success. Research by Silvia Bellezza, Francesca Gino, and Anat Keinan shows there may be prestige advantages when you stand out rather than fit in. Open for comment; 24 Comments posted.

Morality Rebooted: Exploring Simple Fixes to Our Moral Bugs

Although scholars know far more now than they used to about the conditions under which individuals are likely to behave, current understandings are still primarily descriptive. This paper responds to the challenge of advancing knowledge of unethical behavior from largely descriptive research to a framework aimed to reduce or even eliminate unethical behavior in organizations. The goal is twofold: First, the authors identify approaches to mitigating unethical behavior based on empirical evidence from existing research in moral psychology and behavioral ethics. Second, they develop a framework for evaluating different strategies with prescriptive recommendations on how to reduce unethical behaviors. Overall they find that ethical fixes emerge in two broad categories: values-oriented and structure-oriented approaches. Values-oriented approaches shift people's preferences to be moral, whereas structure-oriented approaches seek to design incentives, decisions, and tasks such that the unethical option is less tempting. Based on theory and empirical findings, the authors propose that adopting both values-oriented and structure-oriented approaches mitigates the risk of adverse effects from one strategy taken from a single approach. Read More

The Contaminating Effects of Building Instrumental Ties: How Networking Can Make Us Feel Dirty

Network ties are essential to advancement in organizations: they provide access to opportunities, political insight, and technical knowledge. Yet networking with the goal of advancement often leaves individuals feeling somehow bad about themselves—even dirty. The authors use field and laboratory data to examine how goal-oriented or instrumental networking influences individual emotions, attitudes, and outcomes, including consequences for an individual's morality. The authors argue that networking for professional goals can impinge on an individual's moral purity—a psychological state that results from a person's view of the self as clean from a moral standpoint and through which a person feels virtuous—and thus make him or her feel dirty. There are three main insights: First, the authors show the importance of a clear conceptual distinction between instrumental networking driven by individual agency versus spontaneous networking reflecting the constraints and opportunities of the social context. Second, the research establishes the relevance of moral psychology for network theory. Third, because people in powerful positions do not experience the morally contaminating effects of instrumental networking, power emerges from this research as yielding unequal access to networking opportunities, thus reinforcing and perpetuating inequality in performance. Read More

‘My Bad!’ How Internal Attribution and Ambiguity of Responsibility Affect Learning from Failure

As scholars and practitioners have observed, failure clearly presents a valuable opportunity for learning in organizations. All too often, however, the opportunity is lost. Indeed, prior studies on the topic suggest that, perhaps ironically, such learning often fails to occur. In this paper the authors begin to uncover when and why individuals are more likely to learn from failed experiences. Specifically, they present evidence from three studies that support a conceptual model of learning from failure as operating through individuals' internal attributions of failure, driven in part by low ambiguity of responsibility, that lead to increased learning effort and subsequent improvement. The paper thus makes theoretical advances and carries implications for managers. Theoretically, the authors focus attention on the role of attribution in learning from failure, showing that attribution style is an important moderator of the relationship between failure and learning. Next, they identify a key situational determinant of individuals' responses to failure: ambiguity of responsibility. Third, they highlight the key role of effort as a mechanism for the effects of learning from failure. For managers, these results emphasize a specific measure that organizational leaders might take before an experience to enhance learning: actively managing perceptions of ambiguity of responsibility. Read More

Reflecting on Work Improves Job Performance

New research by Francesca Gino, Gary Pisano, and colleagues shows that taking time to reflect on our work improves job performance in the long run. Open for comment; 25 Comments posted.

Learning By Thinking: How Reflection Improves Performance

Knowledge plays an important role in the productivity and prosperity of economies, organizations, and individuals. Even so, research on learning has primarily focused on the role of doing (experience) in fostering progress over time. To compare the effectiveness of different sources of learning, the authors take a micro approach and study learning at the individual level. They argue that learning from direct experience can be more effective if coupled with reflection—that is, the intentional attempt to synthesize, abstract, and articulate the key lessons taught by experience. Using a mixed-method approach that combines laboratory experiments and a field study in a large business process outsourcing company in India, they find support for this prediction. Further, they find that the effect of reflection on learning is mediated by greater perceived ability to achieve a goal (i.e., self-efficacy). Together, these results reveal reflection to be a powerful mechanism behind learning, confirming the words of American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer John Dewey: "We do not learn from experience ... we learn from reflecting on experience." Read More

Pulpit Bullies: Why Dominating Leaders Kill Teams

Power interrupts, and absolute power interrupts absolutely. Francesca Gino and colleagues discover that a high-powered boss can lead a team into poor performance. Closed for comment; 24 Comments posted.

Studying How Income Inequality Shapes Behavior

Professor David A. Moss is studying how growing income disparity affects our decision-making on everything from risk-taking to voting. Open for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Why Unqualified Candidates Get Hired Anyway

Why do businesses evaluate candidates solely on past job performance, failing to consider the job's difficulty? Why do university admissions officers focus on high GPAs, discounting influence of easy grading standards? Francesca Gino and colleagues investigate the phenomenon of the "fundamental attribution error." Closed for comment; 24 Comments posted.

Social Norms Versus Social Responsibility: Punishing Transgressions Under Conflicting Obligations

Laws and regulations provide guidelines for how to punish transgressions, but ultimately, individuals make the decisions about whether and how much to punish alleged wrongdoers. Many people feel inclined to treat wrongdoers preferentially in certain contexts. For example, people may be tempted to give people a break on "special days" such as birthdays because birthdays are part of a larger class of days with social or religious significance that produce strong norms of helping, kindness, and forgiveness. This study examines what happens when those with the authority to punish find themselves in situations that encourage leniency, specifically on offenders' birthdays. Examining over 134,000 arrest records for driving under the influence (DUI offenses) in the state of Washington during a ten-year period, the researchers find that, counter to predictions, police officers are less likely to be lenient toward marginal offenders (i.e., those just under the 0.08 BAC per se threshold) on their birthdays than on any other day. Overall, the paper argues that exploring how people respond to dual pressures provides insight into how they reconcile competing motivations, whether they can correctly compensate for biases, and additional ways in which discretion may be problematic. Individuals with the responsibility to punish behave differently in the presence of a social norm to treat someone leniently than they do in the absence of that norm. However, contrary to common intuition, the resolution of this tension results in harsher treatment of offenders rather than leniency. Read More

The Power of Rituals in Life, Death, and Business

Experimental research by Michael I. Norton, Francesca Gino, and colleagues proves multiple benefits of using rituals. Not only do they have the power to alleviate grief, but they also serve to enhance the experience of consuming food—even something as mundane as a carrot. Closed for comment; 21 Comments posted.

Faculty Symposium Showcases Breadth of Research

Faculty present their latest research on the human tendency toward dishonesty, the use of crowdsourcing to solve major scientific problems, and the impact of private equity investments. Closed for comment; 3 Comments posted.

First Minutes are Critical in New-Employee Orientation

Employee orientation programs ought to be less about the company and more about the employee, according to new research by Daniel M. Cable, Francesca Gino, and Bradley R. Staats. Closed for comment; 16 Comments posted.

Sidetracked: Why Can’t We Stick to the Plan?

In her new book, Sidetracked, behavioral scientist and professor Francesca Gino explores the unexpected forces that often keep people from following through with their plans, both professional and personal. Closed for comment; 12 Comments posted.

5 Weight Loss Tips From Behavioral Economists

Business scholars, particularly behavioral economists, study what motivates people to buy, save, donate, and any other number of actions that build society. In helping organizations run better, this research can also be read in a different light. Diet tips, anyone? Closed for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Self-Serving Altruism? When Unethical Actions That Benefit Others Do Not Trigger Guilt

Not a day goes by without the revelation of unethical behavior by a politician, movie star, professional athlete, or high-ranking executive. This paper asks: Is a person's willingness to cross ethical lines influenced by the presence of others who may benefit? Research by Francesca Gino, Shahar Ayal, and Dan Ariely. Findings show that cheating is motivated by potential benefits to others. The authors analyze the results of three experiments to suggest that the potential benefits which dishonesty may create for others not only help people justify their own bad behavior but also serve as a self-serving motivator for it. Focusing on the social utility of others, people more freely categorize their own actions in positive terms and avoid negative updating of their moral self-image. As a result, people feel less guilty about their dishonest behavior when others-in addition to themselves-can benefit from them. Among the implications: Team settings might be conducive to dishonest behavior among group members, and thus might not be ideal to foster learning. Read More

License to Cheat: Voluntary Regulation and Ethical Behavior

One powerful tool, at least in theory, that policymakers can rely on to stem cheating is regulation through monitoring and sanctions. But regulation does not really help when individuals and firms who are supposed to be regulated may have the ability to determine how much regulation they face, or even whether they face it at all. This paper studies what happens when individuals can avoid or circumvent regulation and monitoring intended to curb unethical conduct. Results from several experiments show significantly more misreporting under voluntary regulation (where participants have a choice of whether to be regulated) than when they are either all submitted to mandatory regulation or when no opportunity for regulation exists. These findings have several practical implications: For example, policies imposing either no regulation or total regulation may be preferable to policies that allow for regulation that is easily circumvented. Read More

Blue Skies, Distractions Arise: How Weather Affects Productivity

New studies show that workers are more productive on rainy days than on sunny ones. Does your office take advantage? Research by Francesca Gino and colleagues. Closed for comment; 15 Comments posted.

Children Develop a Veil of Fairness

Is children's fair behavior motivated by a desire to be fair —or merely the desire to appear fair? The results of several experiments suggest that as children grow older they become increasingly concerned with appearing fair to others, which may explain some of their increased tendency to behave fairly. Since even young children can radically shift their behavior from fair to unfair based on whether authority figures are aware of their behavior, it might be naive to believe that shrewd adults will be fair without similar oversight. By understanding the limitations of fairness, policymakers can discover how to leverage fairness to increase socially desirable behavior in some circumstances, while limiting its occasional wastefulness. Read More

Rainmakers: Why Bad Weather Means Good Productivity

Most people believe that bad weather conditions reduce productivity. In this research the authors predict and find just the opposite. Using empirical data from laboratory experiments as well as from a mid-sized Japanese bank, the research demonstrates that weather conditions influence one's own cognition and focus. For indoor work contexts, worker productivity is higher on bad rather than good weather days. By reducing the potential for cognitive distractions, bad weather was actually better at sustaining individuals' attention and focus, and, as a result, increasing their productivity. Overall, findings deepen understanding of the factors that contribute to worker productivity. Read More

Breaking Them In or Revealing Their Best? Reframing Socialization around Newcomer Self-Expression

How can organizations build strong, sustainable employment relationships from the very start? To date, the socialization literature has focused on transmitting and maintaining culture so that new employees accept the organizational values and behavioral norms. Many organizations require newcomers to wear standard wardrobes, forbid personal possessions, follow detailed verbal scripts, and enforce appropriate displays of emotion all designed to hinder individuality. In two studies described in this paper, the authors found that organizational and employee outcomes were better when socialization tactics encouraged authentic self-expression of newcomers' personal identities and signature strengths. Organizational socialization is optimized when organizations start by recognizing and highlighting newcomers' unique identities at the very beginning of the employment relationship, when identity negotiation is a critical concern for both parties. Read More

Learning from My Success and From Others’ Failure: Evidence from Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery

The importance of failure in the learning process is well recognized. In organizations as work grows increasingly fragmented—more specialized and divided into smaller tasks—the role of individuals in organizational learning becomes more important. This paper examines how individuals learn directly from their own past experience, and indirectly from the past experience of others. Focusing on one particular performance outcome, the quality of surgeries, findings indicate that individuals learn the most from their own successes and the failures of others, possibly because in both cases they attribute the outcomes to internal rather than external factors. This research has implications for healthcare and organizations more generally. Research by KC Diwas, Bradley R. Staats, and Francesca Gino. Read More

Behavioral Ethics: Toward a Deeper Understanding of Moral Judgment and Dishonesty

What makes even good people cross ethical boundaries? Society demands that business and professional schools address ethics, but the results have been disappointing. This paper argues that a behavioral approach to ethics is essential because it leads to understanding and explaining moral and immoral behavior in systematic ways. The authors first define business ethics and provide an admittedly biased history of the attempts of professional schools to address ethics as a subject of both teaching and research. They next briefly summarize the emergence of the field of behavioral ethics over the last two decades, and turn to recent research findings in behavioral ethics that could provide helpful directions for a social science perspective to ethics. These new findings on both intentional and unintentional unethical behavior can inform new courses on ethics as well as new research investigations. Such new directions can meet the demands of society more effectively than past attempts of professional schools. They can also produce a meaningful and significant change in the behavior of both business school students and professionals. Read More

Are Creative People More Dishonest?

In a series of studies, Francesca Gino and Dan Ariely found that inherently creative people tend to cheat more than noncreative people. Furthermore, they showed that inducing creative behavior tends to induce unethical behavior. It's a sobering thought in a corporate culture that champions out-of-the-box thinking. Closed for comment; 87 Comments posted.

It’s Alive! Business Scholars Turn to Experimental Research

Business researchers are turning increasingly to experiments in the lab and field to unlock the secrets of what motivates CEOs, consumers, and policymakers. Closed for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Sharpening Your Skills: Motivation

Can employers motivate employees to work more creatively, ethically, or productively? Or does that power reside solely within the individual? Recent research at Harvard Business School suggests workers can be motivated by their environment. Read More

Signing at the Top: The Key to Preventing Tax Fraud?

In filling out self-reported documents such as tax forms, we declare the information truthful with our signature, but usually we sign at the end of the form. Researchers Francesca Gino and Lisa Shu discuss whether governments and companies can bolster honesty simply by moving the honesty pledge and signature line to the top of the form, before people encounter the opportunity to cheat. Closed for comment; 4 Comments posted.

When Power Makes Others Speechless: The Negative Impact of Leader Power on Team Performance

History has shown that possessing a great deal of power does not necessarily make someone a good leader. This paper explores the idea that power actually has a detrimental effect on leadership, especially with regard to how it affects open communication within a team. Research was conducted by Leigh Plunkett Tost of the University of Washington, Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School, and Richard P. Larrick of Duke University. Read More

Driven by Social Comparisons: How Feedback about Coworkers’ Effort Influences Individual Productivity

Francesca Gino and Bradley R. Staats explore how the valence (positive versus negative), type (direct versus indirect), and timing (one-shot versus persistent) of performance feedback affects an employee's job productivity. Specifically, through field experiments at a Japanese bank, they investigate the extent to which job performance is affected when employees learn where they stand relative to their coworkers. Read More

Memory Lane and Morality: How Childhood Memories Promote Prosocial Behavior

Little Damien from The Omen notwithstanding, we generally associate childhood with goodness, purity, and innocence. This paper investigates whether feelings of moral purity can be triggered by reminding adults of their childhoods, and whether this can help to induce kind and philanthropic behavior both in social settings and in the workplace. Research was conducted by Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino and Sreedhari D. Desai of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. Read More

The Importance of ‘Don’t’ in Inducing Ethical Employee Behavior

In a new study, HBS professors Francesca Gino and Joshua D. Margolis look at two ways that companies can encourage ethical behavior: the promotion of good deeds or the prevention of bad deeds. It turns out that employees tend to act more ethically when focused on what not to do. That can be problematic in firms where success is commonly framed in terms of advancement of positive outcomes rather than prevention of bad ones. Closed for comment; 18 Comments posted.

The Most Important Management Trends of the (Still Young) Twenty-First Century

HBS Dean Nitin Nohria and faculty look backward and forward at the most important business trends of the young twenty-first century. Read More

The Dark Side of Creativity: Original Thinkers Can Be More Dishonest

Anyone who has spent significant time with artists knows that creative genius often comes with a dark side. This paper offers experimental evidence, specifically with regard to the relationship between creativity and unethical behavior. Research involving four experiments with university students was conducted by Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School and Dan Ariely of the Fuqua School of Business. Open for comment; 40 Comments posted.

The Psychological Costs of Pay-for-Performance: Implications for Strategic Compensation

In studying pay-for-performance-based compensation systems, economic scholars often adhere to agency theory, which hypothesizes that firms should prominently use performance-based compensation—it alleviates the problems of employee "shirking" and ensures highly skilled employees' desire to work for the company. However, firms use performance-based pay far less frequently than agency theory predicts. This paper posits that the psychological costs of pay-for-performance systems often dominate their benefits to firms, and proposes an integrated theory of strategic compensation that takes into account the economic and psychological benefits and costs of pay-for-performance. Research was conducted by Harvard Business School professors Francesca Gino and Ian Larkin, and Lamar Pierce of Washington University. Read More

Introverts: The Best Leaders for Proactive Employees

Think effective leadership requires gregariousness and charisma? Think again. Introverts actually can be better leaders than extraverts, especially when their employees are naturally proactive, according to Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino. Closed for comment; 95 Comments posted.

The Task and Temporal Microstructure of Productivity: Evidence from Japanese Financial Services

Boredom and fatigue often hamper the productivity of workers whose jobs consist of repeating the same tasks. This paper explores ways in which companies can combat this problem, introducing the idea of the "restart effect" - a deliberate disruption that kindles productivity. Research, which focused on a loan-application processing line at a Japanese bank, was conducted by HBS professor Francesca Gino and Kenan-Flagler Business School assistant professor Bradley R. Staats. Read More

Dishonest Deed, Clear Conscience: Self-Preservation through Moral Disengagement and Motivated Forgetting

Why do people engage in unethical behavior repeatedly over time? In Everybody Does It! (1994), Thomas Gabor documents the pervasive immorality of ordinary people. Challenging the stereotype that only criminals violate the law, Gabor describes the numerous transgressions of everyday life and suggests that the excuses people make for their dishonest behavior parallel the justifications criminals make for their crimes. This common tendency of people to justify and distance themselves from their unethical behavior has captured the attention of several psychologists, and a long stream of research has documented differences in the way people think about their own ethical behavior and that of others. Harvard Business School's Lisa Shu and Max Bazerman, with colleague Francesca Gino, show that seemingly innocuous aspects of the environment can promote the decision to act ethically or unethically. Read More

Nameless + Harmless = Blameless: When Seemingly Irrelevant Factors Influence Judgment of (Un)ethical Behavior

Most of us regularly make ethical judgments about others' behavior and make decisions regarding whether or not to punish others' unethical behavior. Although many of us know how we would rationally like to behave in these situations, little prior research has explored the systematic errors we commit in the process of evaluating others' unethical behavior and acting upon it. The present research by Gino, Shu, and Bazerman focuses on the effects of both the outcome of unethical acts and the identifiability of the victim of wrongdoing on ethical judgments and decisions to punish unethical behavior. Read More

No Harm, No Foul: The Outcome Bias in Ethical Judgments

Too often, workers are evaluated based on results rather than on the quality of the decision. Given that most consequential business decisions involve some uncertainty, the upshot is that organizations wind up rewarding luck rather than wisdom. From a rational decision-making perspective, people's decisions should be evaluated based on the information the decision maker had available to him or her at the time, and not based on the ultimate results. This paper tests predictions about this effect, known as the outcome bias, in two studies in which participants were asked to consider various ethically questionable behaviors. Participants were also given information about the outcome of such behaviors and were asked to rate the ethicality of the described actions with or without the outcome information. The findings extend prior research in psychology and ethics. Read More

See No Evil: When We Overlook Other People’s Unethical Behavior

Even good people sometimes act unethically without their own awareness. This paper explores psychological processes as they affect the ethical perception of others' behavior, and concludes with implications for organizations. First, there is a tendency for people to overlook unethical behavior in others when recognizing such behavior would harm them. Second, people might readily ignore unethical behavior when others have an agent do their dirty work for them. Third, gradual moral decay leads people to grow comfortable with behavior to which they would otherwise object. Fourth, the tendency to value outcomes over processes can lead us to accept unethical processes for far too long. Read More

Do We Listen to Advice Just Because We Paid for It? The Impact of Cost of Advice on Its Use

People make decisions every day by weighing their own opinions with advice from other sources. But do we know whether people use advice in a way that is helpful to them? In two experiments performed under controlled, laboratory conditions, Gino found that all else being equal, people weigh advice differently according to the amount of money they pay for it. Also, the cost of advice affects the degree to which people use it. Read More