Sample Research Projects by PAW Interest Group Faculty

Lawsuits alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) have dramatically surged in the past decade. In some jurisdictions, FLSA case filings now outpace employment discrimination filings by substantial margins, making wage and hour claims the most common type of litigated workplace dispute. Despite considerable recent public attention paid to wage and hour lawsuits, there has been no comprehensive attempt to study or explain the upsurge in FLSA filings and its impact on employers, employees, and lawyers working in this area. This project will begin to fill this gap by completing the first comprehensive empirical evaluation of all FLSA cases filed in federal district courts between 2000 and 2011 to understand the kinds of claims brought, the parties bringing the claims, the outcomes of the claims, and the amount of money collected in settlement or judgment. Analysis of case filing data will be complemented by surveys and interviews of plaintiffs' attorneys who handle FLSA cases, exploring the role of the plaintiffs' bar as a driver of the FLSA litigation increase. Finally, employers will be surveyed about their perception of the risk of a FLSA lawsuit and strategies (if any) for responding to that risk.

This project is in progress. The authors/investigators are:

  • Charlotte S. Alexander, J.D., Department of Risk Management and Insurance, J. Mack Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University
  • Zev Eigen, Northwestern Law School and the Kellogg School
  • Camille Gear Rich, University of Southern California Gould School of Law

Salesperson performance and turnover are the two most critical issues for sales force management. Each of these topics has been extensively researched, typically with cross-sectional data focusing on either the salesperson or the sales manager—but not both, and seldom across time periods. To gain a more useful insight into both salesperson performance and turnover, we propose using longitudinal data across multiple periods, which will allow a much richer picture of salesperson performance to emerge.

Having multiple longitudinal observations of salesperson performance allows examination of the inter-relationships between various aspects of a salesperson's behavior, job-related attitudes, and management effectiveness and performance trends across a salesperson's tenure. We intend to also examine a wide range of factors potentially related to performance such as ethical climate, behavioral factors, management styles, and peer relations to mention a few. We hope to provide detailed insight into salesperson turnover beyond what is commonly found in sales research. We will explore reasons for both dysfunctional and functional turnover: among both successful salespeople that a firm would want to keep, as well as examine turnover among ineffective salespeople that provide less value to the firm or the firm's customers. Not only will the project allow us to look at individual and job-related factors as potential precursors of salesperson turnover, but also will present the opportunity to look at performance trends and management-related issues as possible predictors of turnover.

We intend to use data on customer profitability, salesperson performance using various metrics, survey measures of salesperson opinions on job-related attitudes and demographics, turnover data, and store Manager job performance data. We will analyze the data using longitudinal, hierarchical models of salesperson performance and turnover at the individual and store level/manager level. We will examine the relationships between behavior and latent psychological processes using both psychometric and econometric frameworks.

This study will provide a number of benefits. We hope to provide key insights into how to optimize salesperson performance from both a sales and customer satisfaction perspective. In addition we hope to provide insight into those factors that are associated with enhancing or attenuating performance at the salesperson and team levels. We also plan to identify personal and workplace factors associated with turnover of both effective salespeople (dysfunctional turnover) and ineffective salespeople (functional turnover). This research will illustrate the effects of a salesperson and manager's performance trends on current and future performance for both the individual and the store level. Findings will also help result in increased knowledge related to dysfunctional and functional salesperson turnover at both the individual and store level.

This is an emerging project. The collaborators are presently Jim Boles (Marketing), Todd Maurer (Beebe Institute and Managerial Sciences), and Nikos Dimotakis (Managerial Sciences).

Negotiations are a ubiquitous part of organizational life. While it seems intuitive that some individuals would be better suited to negotiations than others, previous research has found little effect of individual differences on negotiation outcomes. This paper aims to address this question in two ways – examining the potential role of context, and investigating why some individuals might be better negotiators than others.

Not all negotiation contexts are created equal. Oftentimes, individuals seek to capture the greatest amount of gain for themselves, and these gains come at the expense of their negotiation counterpart. These zero-sum negotiations are called distributive¸ and are essentially win-lose scenarios. Other negotiations, however, are based on uncovering areas of agreement and exchanging information to find potential tradeoffs that maximize the payoffs of both parties – these contexts are called integrative and represent situations with the potential of win-win solutions.

We wanted to see whether different personalities might be best suited toward one of these situations. We focused on the trait of agreeableness – a personality dimension that captures how cooperative and considerate individuals generally are. We hypothesized that the inherent conflict in distributive negotiations might be appropriate to the dispositional tendencies of disagreeable individuals, while the opposite might hold for integrative negotiation contexts. We argued that a mismatch between the requirements of the negotiation and the negotiators' personality would create an unpleasant experience that individuals could escape through acquiescence. In other words, being in a negotiation in which you don't know how to act can make an individual feel uncomfortable enough to encourage them to put an end to it, making them less likely to marshal the resources needed to persist in one's negotiation efforts.

Our theoretical support for this hypothesis was derived based on the defense defeat model, which associates activation with persistence in social dominance settings. While this model has been previously validated in laboratory rats, we provided a test of some of its conclusions in human subjects.

In order to do so, data was collected as part of two linked experiments. Study participants were asked to provide information on their moods and behavioral persistence at the beginning, middle and end of the negotiation. We also collected blood pressure measurements in order to capture an objective measure of activation.

Results indicated that people did indeed perform better in negotiations better matched to their dispositions. They had more energy, persisted longer, and demonstrated more vigor than their mismatched counterparts – furthermore, they ultimately did better in the negotiation.

Dimotakis, N., Conlon, D., & Ilies, R. (2012). The Mind and Heart (Literally) of the Negotiator: Personality and Contextual Determinants of Cardiac Arousal and Tangible and Intangible Outcomes in Negotiation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97, 183-193.

In this project we are exploring the intersection of 1) a decision bias and behavioral phenomenon "escalation of commitment" that has been widely applied and shown to be relevant within fields such as computer information systems in relation to software development projects, and 2) career success and progression. The former provides and understanding of how otherwise intelligent and rational people continue to invest in a losing course of action as well as the predictors and outcomes of that action, while the latter provides an understanding of the predictors and nature of career success, including both intrinsic (e.g. satisfaction) and extrinsic (e.g. pay) success. We are exploring the psychological process and differences that can contribute to individuals continuing to pursue a career in which it has become somewhat clear may not result in success.

This project is in progress and the investigators are presently:

  • Mark Keil (Computer Information Systems)
  • Todd Maurer (Beebe Institute and Managerial Sciences)

We investigate how trust reduces the tendency to use deception in negotiations from a culturally contextual perspective. We find culturally divergent patterns across Chinese and American negotiators. Specifically, for Chinese negotiators, cognition-based trust decreases the approval of using negative emotional and informational deception, whereas affect-based trust increases the approval of using informational deception. For American negotiators, affect-based trust decreases the approval of using negative emotional deception. We discuss theoretical and practical implications on the need for culturally specific strategies in managing deceptions in negotiations.

Zhang, J. Liu, L.A. & Liu, W. Trust and deception in negotiation: Culturally divergent effects. Forthcoming at Management and Organization Review.


  • Jian-Dong Zhang, Shanghai University of International Business and Economics, China
  • Leigh Anne Liu, Georgia State University, USA
  • Wu Liu, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong

This research examines the dynamics of consensus building in intracultural and intercultural negotiations achieved through the convergence of mental models between negotiators. Working from a dynamic constructivist view, according to which the effects of culture are socially and contextually ontingent, we theorize and show in two studies of U.S. and Chinese negotiators that while consensus might be generally easier to achieve in intracultural negotiation settings than intercultural settings, the effects of culture depend on the epistemic and social motives of the parties. As hypothesized, we find that movement toward consensus (in the form of mental model convergence) is more likely among intracultural than intercultural negotiating dyads and that negotiators' epistemic and social motives moderated these effects: need for closure inhibited consensus more for intercultural than intracultural dyads, while concern for face fostered consensus more for intercultural than intracultural dyads. Our theory and findings suggest that consensus building is not necessarily more challenging in cross-cultural negotiations but depends on the epistemic and social motivations of the individuals negotiating.

Liu, L.A., Friedman, R.A., Barry, B., Gelfand, M.J., & Zhang, Z-X. 2012. The dynamics of consensus building in intracultural and intercultural negotiations. Administrative Science Quarterly, 57(2), 269-304.


  • Leigh Anne Liu, Georgia State University
  • Ray Friedman & Bruce Barry, Vanderbilt University
  • Michele J. Gelfand, University of Maryland
  • Zhi-Xue Zhang, Peking University, China

Within a new framework and system of variables that predict and enhance outcomes following challenging experiences, developmental reflection is proposed to be at the nexus of evolving streams of important research on development and learning. It is of potentially high value in theory to explain links between experiential, individual, situational, developmental, and success variables, and also in practice to build a positive developmental mindset leading to valued outcomes. Within this system, developmental reflection will be investigated as both a stable and malleable construct in a multi-source, twelve-month, longitudinal research design, including: 1) a study of individual and situational predictors and also outcomes, and 2) a field experiment examining effects of an induction/intervention on changes in reflection behavior and positive outcomes. Following project success, the newly-created/validated measures and intervention can be included in predictive and experimental applied research in field settings to advance leadership development, training/learning, and personnel/human resource initiatives.

This project is in progress and is funded by the U.S. Army Research Institute. The Principal Investigator is Todd Maurer. PhD students currently collaborating on this project include Dina Leheta, Greg Hardt and AJ Corner.

Employee training and development can contribute to positive outcomes via enhanced skill level, greater understanding and preparation, motivation and performance. Companies can spend a lot of money in support of employee development, and workers may invest valuable time into it. While research has examined predictors of employee development and the benefits such as those just mentioned, what about outcomes over the long haul? For example, do these behaviors and/or predictors have implications for long term career success by workers? This is the general issue addressed recently in a study conducted within RCB that was funded by The SHRM Foundation.

Career success is obviously important to both individuals and organizations, so understanding employees' career success is of great interest in the HR discipline. The study directly addressed variables from the research literature on employee development behavior in relation to career success. This study provides testing of the potential long-term accumulating effects of behavioral, situational, and stable individual variables on career success. The group of 289 employees sampled from across the U.S. workforce represented a very diverse population who was surveyed at two points in time across a ten year period. Employee outcomes studied, such as the number of promotions attained, salary level achieved, job satisfaction and career satisfaction, are all critical concerns with significant implications.

The study reached several conclusions. First, support for employee development by an employer played a key role. Such support includes support for development by other people such as supervisors, coworkers, and clients, and the availability of development resources at work. Early support for development by an employer (ten years ago) predicted current pay level (an indicator of extrinsic career success) as well as job and career satisfaction (indicators of intrinsic career success). A trend of increasing or accumulating support over time since the original support further contributed to job and career satisfaction. Human capital, socio-demographic and other behavioral variables were controlled for, suggesting the unique importance of this support from an employer to success. Thus, while we previously knew from research that organizational support for development may influence employee attitudes and behavior in the short-term—here we learned there can be a link to long-term career success over ten years. The report cites a related concept that might help to explain what is going on: The idea of "cumulative advantage" in careers might be at play. From the perspective of cumulative advantage, a favorable position helps achieve further gains that may become even greater with time. Prior literature on this phenomenon suggests this is a general process that may affect outcomes in many domains, including life course, family generations, education, and careers. In the literature, cumulative advantage -- such as that obtained from a very early strong and prestigious job assignment--has been referred to as "The Matthew Effect," based on part of the Gospel of Matthew. It says essentially that those who have something will receive more of it in greater amounts and those who do not have much of it will lose even what they have. In other words, those who have favorable support or resources early on may attract increasing rewards and support over time compared to those who do not receive such support early. Thus, along these lines, given how important employee development is to careers in the recent decade of workplace changes, perhaps having support for learning and development from an employer early on might put one in a strengthened position toward longer-term success. In the study report the authors suggest that concepts such as compounding in financial investments might have relevance to the investments made in careers via skill development. That is, early "investment" (support) may be important for the long term, possibly like in financial investing--early investment is influential.

There was also an effect in the study where an increasing trend of development participation over the decade related to promotions achieved by employees. Thus, while early support relates to the extrinsic outcome of salary achieved, an ongoing trend of development involvement related to promotions. In the report the authors suggested that perhaps development support provides a foundation and momentum toward pay and satisfaction achieved, while the ongoing development involvement provides a contribution to promotion into higher level jobs. The results of the investigation suggest implications for practice--there is long-term payoff for work support for employee development. Employees might become more satisfied with their jobs and careers and they may become more financially successful if they are employed early on by an organization that supports employee development and this support continues and grows over time within their careers.

A second set of findings in the study came from effects by individual differences on success during the study period. Proactive personality (a tendency for a person to identify opportunities and act on them, demonstrate initiative, persevere to bring about change, find and solve problems, and take it on themselves to have an impact on the world around them) had unique effects not accounted for by a variety of other personality and individual difference variables measured. This suggests that proactive personality may play a prominent role among all personality and achievement variables in predicting long-term career success. In the present study proactive personality (and agreeableness--another personality variable having to do with pleasant, cooperative, helpful behavior) predicted job satisfaction, and only proactive personality predicted career satisfaction over ten years. The results (and other research) suggests that personality was more relevant to subjective (or intirinsic) success than objective (financial) success, possibly because such personality variables more directly affect one's sense of well-being. Proactive personality may be a key predictor of this dimension of success—even going beyond other characteristics.

Another finding in the study was that specific achievement goal orientation profiles, rather than simple main or linear effects, had relations with success variables. That is, it was not one achievement goal dimension or another but two of them in combination that related to success. The idea that mastery or learning orientation is of primary importance for success may be too simplistic when it comes to long-term career success. Rather, two performance orientation constructs in combination may be more meaningful. For example, the study found that being motivated to prove one's performance to others and to avoid making errors or looking bad to others interacted in predicting success (promotions). Thus, proving one's value via ongoing performance achievements may lead to being promoted, but this is more likely to occur when one is also trying to avoid observable mistakes or poor performance episodes. This provides a fairly powerful "profile" for career success according to the findings in the study. While this may make good logical sense, it departs from a theme in the achievement goal orientation literature that seems somewhat slanted toward learning and mastery being good and performance orientation (prove, avoid) being undesirable. There was also a second such profile effect in relation to a salary variable: A focus on learning and mastery did relate to salary advancement, but this occurred more so if accompanied by a performance focus in which one tries to prove performance accomplishments to others. Thus again, a simple linear effect by achievement motivation did not explain the data as well as a "profile" which has not received much attention in this area of research. The findings in this SHRM-funded study bring some new attention to this approach to thinking about achievement goals in the areas of employee development and career success.

Maurer, Todd. & Chapman, Elizabeth. (2013). "Ten years of career success in relation to individual and situational variables from the employee development literature." Journal of Vocational Behavior, Volume 83, pages 450-465. This project was funded by the SHRM Foundation.

Current management literature has almost exclusively focused on organizations, whether big or small, and organizational members, whether senior or junior. However, a huge group of people that contributes significantly to the society by providing a variety of services and products remains "hidden" from management scholars. This 'forgotten' group of people is the roadside vendors. By some estimates, roadside vendors contribute from 20% to 50% of the GDP of various nations besides providing gainful employment to millions and easy access to useful products and services to an equally large number of people . In particular, they form the backbone of business and society in emerging markets such as India. The present study is an attempt to enhance our understanding of this group of individuals. Specifically, through a qualitative study involving personal observation and interviews of roadside vendors and their customers in India, this study attempts to develop a model of the barriers to business these roadside vendors confront and the strategies that they use to overcome them. This study is a work-in-progress and the findings are based on test-data.

In progress, Author: Sushil S. Nifadkar, Institute of International Business, Georgia State University

We are designing a study on toxic behaviors in an online multiplayer game context – the focus in on indirectly predicting the emergence and (dis)continuation of toxic behaviors among team members. This is in collaboration with a publisher of popular online video games.

Emerging study, Collaborators: Yu Yu, Department of Marketing, Georgia State University; Nikos Dimotakis, Department of Managerial Sciences, Georgia State University

We are examining manager-subordinate communication in post merger integration context and the effect of different communication styles on subordinates' perceptions and work performance.

Emerging study, Collaborators: Yu Yu, Department of Marketing, Georgia State University; Lisa Lambert, Department of Managerial Sciences, Georgia State University.

The focus in this project is on the role of affect in international mergers and acquisitions. The focus of the study will be individual employees in target companies in international mergers. We will also consider the effect of immediate supervisors of these employees in the study.

Emerging study, Collaborators: Yu Yu, Department of Marketing, Georgia State University; Sushil S. Nifadkar, Institute of International Business, Georgia State University.