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How to cope when your values clash with your co-workers’

Self-disclosure helped boost engagement among value minorities by increasing the respect they anticipated from their colleagues, the results showed.



In our increasingly polarized society, more people may find themselves in a workplace where they are one of the few conservatives or few liberals around.

A new study found that those whose values – political or otherwise – don’t match the majority in their organization felt they received less respect and as a result were less engaged at work.  Moreover, their co-workers noticed their lack of engagement.

“It is a real issue that organizations face,” said Tracy Dumas, lead author of the study and associate professor of management and human resources at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business.

“Organizations know that it is valuable to have employees with different perspectives. But if those with different perspectives feel they aren’t respected and so aren’t fully participating in their jobs, organizations aren’t fully reaping the benefits of their unique perspectives.”

But the study did find a way that “value minorities” could feel more a part of their teams: by disclosing personal information about themselves to their colleagues that had nothing to do with the values about which they disagreed.

The study was published recently in the journal Organization Science.

“Value minorities” were defined as those whose core beliefs involving politics, religion or other important areas of life clash with the majority of people in their organizations.

Dumas emphasized that the study examined values, not opinions.  Values can inform opinions, but values are harder to change because they are embedded in the person’s sense of self – they transcend individual issues.

The researchers conducted studies among full-time adult employees in an online setting, a student project group that worked together over a semester, and undergraduate students in the laboratory, all with similar results. The study of 389 full-time workers was conducted online.  Participants read a workplace scenario where they imagined themselves working closely with colleagues of the same rank on a workgroup. Some were told that their values clashed with co-workers on issues like communal responsibility, individual liberty, and safety and security.  Others were told their values were similar.

To get at the importance of self-disclosure, some were told they often talked with colleagues about non-work topics like what they did over the weekend, including spending time with a friend, trying a new restaurant in town and talking about their favorite things on the menu. Others were told that they rarely discussed personal topics and usually only talked about work. Both groups were told they did not discuss their personal values. All participants then reported if they felt their colleagues would respect them on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree).

Participants were then told about an important group meeting coming up in which they would be discussing how to secure a new and important client. Participants rated how much they believed they would be engaged in the meeting through statements like “I would exert my full effort” and “My mind would be focused while completing work in my group.”

The results showed the importance of self-disclosure in helping value minorities perform better in the workplace, Dumas said.

Those in the minority who were told that they shared information about their personal life – such as what they did over the weekend – anticipated feeling more engaged than those value minorities in the non-disclosure condition.

Self-disclosure helped boost engagement among value minorities by increasing the respect they anticipated from their colleagues, the results showed.

Similar results were found among 277 undergraduate students working in real-life teams who were surveyed three times in a seven-week period over one semester.  They were surveyed about their values, and how much they felt their values clashed with others on their team. They also reported on the respect they felt from others on their teams and how much they talked about themselves.

All the findings revealed in the lab experiment were also found in this real-life work group. One key here was that team members rated how engaged each person was on their team project.

“We found that others on the team noticed that people whose values clashed with the majority didn’t engage as much in the work of the group,” Dumas said.  “But that negative effect was lessened if the value minorities talked about themselves in the group.”

The key in all the studies was the importance of people talking about themselves in the workplace – not about areas where they disagree, but just about their everyday life experiences.

“What happens is that when people talk about themselves, they feel more respected – and they feel invested in the success of the group, they feel engaged,” she said.

Dumas said self-disclosure helps because it “humanizes” value minorities to the group.

People may feel uncomfortable being a part of a work group that doesn’t share their values, she said.  But if they pick out something they do feel comfortable sharing with the group, it can create a connection.

“When you talk about your family or the movies you like or what you did this week, it shows you’re a whole person, you’re not just defined by the difficult areas where you disagree,” she said. “Even if you don’t agree with others on your favorite movies, or what restaurants you like, that’s not a difficult conversation to have.”

One of the best parts of using self-disclosure to help value minorities feel more respected and engaged in the workplace is that they don’t need any management intervention to make it happen.

“If you’re a value minority, you’re not at the mercy of your manager to make things better. Self-disclosure is a step that you can take to mitigate the negative effects of feeling that you’re in the minority,” Dumas said.

Importantly, however, the paper notes the importance of organizations creating an environment where people feel comfortable disclosing.

Dumas conducted the study with Robert Lount, professor of management and human resources at Ohio State’s Fisher College, and Sarah Doyle, who received her PhD at Ohio State’s Fisher College and is now an assistant professor at the University of Arizona.


Having a bad boss makes you a worse employee

Employees who prioritize career advancement are strongly affected by abusive leadership while employees who prioritized job security remained just as likely to take charge after experiencing abusive supervision. Employees who prioritize advancement tend to hunker down and reduce taking-charge behavior after experiencing abusive supervision.



Your boss stomps and yells, criticizes you, and then proceeds to take the credit for your work – even it is an isolated incident? This can take a profound toll on employee well-being and performance. But despite the many years of research, the precise mechanisms through which bad leadership impacts employees’ performance remain a subject of interest.

In a new study, first published in Group & Organization Management, an international group of researchers, led by Stevens Institute of Technology and University of Illinois Chicago, offer a novel explanation of the cognitive factors through which abusive leadership degrades employee performance — and helps explain why some employees are more vulnerable than others to the negative impact of abusive bosses.

“Thankfully, abusive supervision isn’t too common, but when it happens it leaves employees far less likely to take the initiative and work to improve business practices,” said Howie Xu, an author of the study and an assistant professor of management at Stevens. “We wanted to understand the cognitive factors behind that effect — and ask how companies can shield their employees from the negative impact of bad bosses.” 

Xu’s team surveyed employees and supervisors from 42 different South Korean companies, along with hundreds of US students, to explore the ways in which abusive supervision impacts “taking-charge” behavior by employees. Subjects were then ranked according to whether they actively seek positive opportunities for promotion and advancement or take a more preventative approach that prioritizes safety and job security.

“We theorized that both the drive to obtain rewards (promotion, bonuses) and the drive to avoid punishments (maintain job security) would shape the way employees respond to abusive bosses,” Xu explained. 

But that’s not what Xu and his team found. Rather, they found that employees who prioritize career advancement are strongly affected by abusive leadership while employees who prioritized job security remained just as likely to take charge after experiencing abusive supervision. Employees who prioritize advancement tend to hunker down and reduce taking-charge behavior after experiencing abusive supervision.”

“That’s a very surprising finding,” Xu said. “We found clear evidence that the signal from abusive leadership is much more salient to employees who care about advancement than it is to employees who care about security.”

One possible explanation, Xu explained, is that ambitious employees may perceive an abusive boss as having direct control over whether they will receive bonuses or opportunities for promotion. By contrast, bad bosses may be seen as having less direct control over firing decisions, which often require ratification by HR teams or more senior managers. 

That’s an important finding, because it suggests that organizations seeking to mitigate the impact of bad leadership should focus on empowering employees and making them feel valued and appreciated, rather than simply reassuring them their jobs are safe. “If a leader slips into abusive behavior, our research suggests that they should not only apologize, but also work to reassure employees of their value to the organization,” Xu said.

Unexpectedly, the variation in employee response to abusive supervision was broadly constant across both the Korean and US populations. “We think of these countries as culturally distinct, but there was no real difference in how employees responded to abusive bosses,” Xu said. “That might reflect the effect of globalization — or might be a sign that this is a universal trait that exists across many different cultures.” 

Researchers from Texas Tech University, Hunan University and Seoul National University also contributed to the paper.

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You own a digital-native brand and you want to set up a physical brand store? Read this first

Despite the cannibalizing impact on their own online channel, brand stores are an effective means to increase a brand’s top-line sales. Digital natives in startup or growth markets that aim to draw investors’ attention can try to improve their valuation through brand stores and the corresponding sales growth.



Multichannel retailing has become crucial to the sales strategy of any brand, including digital-native brands that started retailing as online-only. Digital-native brands like Quip in the U.S. and Myprotein in Europe have partnered with independent retailers to offer consumers an in-person retail option. But some brands—especially those in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) category—have opened their own brand stores to create a bigger physical footprint.

Researchers from Erasmus School of Economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam, KU Leuven, Universität zu Lübeck, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, and FoodLabs published a new Journal of Marketing article that investigates the multichannel impact of brand stores by digital-native FMCG brands.

The study, appearing in the Journal of Marketing, is titled “Assessing the Multichannel Impact of Brand Store Entry by a Digital-Native Grocery Brand” and is authored by Michiel Van Crombrugge, Els Breugelmans, Florian Breiner, and Christian W. Scheiner.

Brand stores are brick-and-mortar stores owned and operated by the manufacturer. They carry only the brand’s products and are designed to sell them profitably in a brand-centric environment.

Van Crombrugge explains that “these stores offer physical exposure, which digital-native brands might struggle to attain on supermarket shelves given the steep competition from mass-market brands.”

Brand stores increase brand awareness, which in turn can increase sales in the company-owned online channel and independent supermarkets.

“Brand stores can also spark distributor interest and prompt supermarkets to distribute more of the brand on their shelves. Since the number of brand stores that a digital-native FMCG brand can open is limited, increasing breadth and depth of supermarket distribution can further drive brand sales,” adds Breugelmans.

Yet brand stores also entail risks. Sales in this channel may cannibalize sales in the incumbent channels if consumers migrate to the newly opened brand store. If brand stores signal the manufacturer’s encroachment, supermarkets might reduce their distribution of the brand. Finally, opening and operating brand stores is expensive and these substantial operational costs put pressure on profits.

The Supermarket Effect

This research uncovers a substantially different impact of brand store entry on own-online channel sales than on sales in independent supermarkets. In areas in the vicinity of brand stores, the brand’s online channel sales decreased, yet its supermarket sales increased. This is because for customers seeking a more elevated consumption experience, brand stores offer an interesting alternative, which causes cannibalization of its own online channel.

In supermarkets, on the other hand, buyers are mainly concerned with price and convenience. For them, brand stores offer an opportunity to discover a digital-native brand that otherwise would have remained anonymous between bigger mass-market brands, which in turn causes supermarket sales to increase.

Brand Distribution

The research team also discovers that brand stores spark distributor interest and prompt supermarkets to start distributing the brand on their shelves. Indeed, part of the supermarket sales increase that brand stores bring about is driven by brand stores’ positive effect on the number of supermarkets that carry the brand. This increase in distribution breadth is an important component to drive sales since brands cannot open brand stores everywhere.

“We find that brand stores generate an influx of own brand store sales that more than make up for any online losses. This is not necessarily surprising because their strong local visibility, typically in locations with high foot traffic, and their appeal to customers who lack opportunities or motivations to visit the online channel or supermarket make brand stores an attractive sales channel on their own,” Scheiner says.

Despite the cannibalizing impact on their own online channel, brand stores are an effective means to increase a brand’s top-line sales. Digital natives in startup or growth markets that aim to draw investors’ attention can try to improve their valuation through brand stores and the corresponding sales growth.

However, opening and running brand stores is a capital-intensive operation due to factors such as store rental cost and sales staff wages. Breinder warns that “our analyses show that nearly half of the brand stores under study were not able to turn a profit. Brands therefore need to carefully weigh brand stores’ top-line gains against their high operational expenses to justify the investment financially.”

These findings offer important insights and caveats to digital-native brands that consider opening brand stores to increase their physical footprint beyond supermarkets. The upside is that brand stores can help digital natives reach potential consumers and gain additional physical exposure that FMCG brands especially require. Yet brand stores are not without risks: they may hurt the brand’s sales in the online channel where the digital native started and further impact brand profitability if the influx of new sales is not great enough to cover those online losses and the brand stores’ own substantial operating costs.

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Give to crowdfunding campaigns enjoy vicarious biz success – study

People who give to campaigns get a vicarious sense of success. When a campaign succeeds, contributors feel they are part of something bigger than themselves and gain a sense of ownership of the product.



Why would someone decide to give their money to help a stranger bring a creative project to life?

Recent research has found that backers of crowdfunding projects participate, in part, because of a sense of indirect success and the feeling that they are contributing to something bigger.

Crowdfunding — raising money for a new venture by collecting small amounts from many people — is most often done online, and messaging on the most popular sites reinforces the perception of a more democratic market.

But the reality is a bit more complicated, the researchers said, because backers tend to come from similar groups of people and give to certain categories of projects.

“They tend to give money to projects they find cool,” said Andre Maciel, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. “That limits the democratizing potential of crowdfunding… In the aggregate, there’s this effect that specific project categories tend to be more funded than others.”

Maciel and his co-author, Michelle Weinberger of Northwestern University, wanted to examine why ordinary people would give interest-free money to businesses and to understand the culture of crowdfunding.

Unlike traditional investing, people giving to crowdfunding campaigns do not have any legal guarantee that the money — usually less than $50 — will be used as promised. And they usually get no return on their investment beyond something like a mug or T-shirt.

“People could essentially run with their money, and nothing would happen to them,” Maciel said. “Maybe their reputation would get bruised, but there’s no legal contract there. So we started wondering: What’s the social contract that binds all those different parties together?”

The researchers made a distinction between reward-based crowdfunding and charity donation, with their study looking at projects such as a music album, cookbook or toy, rather than the type that would help pay for medical bills. Maciel said it’s an important phenomenon to understand because it’s a relatively new funding model for businesses, and one that is rapidly growing in scale.

“In 15 years, we’re talking about 200,000 new innovations coming to the market only through Kickstarter,” he said. “If you look at all the platforms together, it might be more than half a million.”

Maciel and his Weinberger interviewed a sample of all involved stakeholders: platform representatives, producers and consumers. They then analyzed the platforms’ websites and their messaging on what crowdfunding is. The duo also visited the offices of a leading crowdfunding platform. Finally, they became backers themselves, giving to eight campaigns from a variety of categories on two platforms.

The researchers found that crowdfunding platforms create a narrative of a more democratic process, enabling people to decide which products enter the market. Platform websites do this in part through language, such as referring to a “project” instead of a “business” or to a “pledge” instead of a “payment.” The websites also employ idealistic messaging about a higher purpose and collective action.

The study concluded that people who give to campaigns get a vicarious sense of success. When a campaign succeeds, contributors feel they are part of something bigger than themselves and gain a sense of ownership of the product, the researchers said.

“You’re not going through the pains of developing an idea, the emotional costs,” Maciel said. “And yet, even though they give, usually, small amounts of money, many consumers feel thrilled when a project comes to life.”

Backers also reported they liked getting behind-the-scenes information and some insider knowledge about the process, including explanations about delays in the project and information about how producers are tackling hurdles.

The study additionally found that a negative experience with a crowdfunding campaign doesn’t necessarily deter people from backing others in the future. Consumers view projects individually and don’t assume that a delayed or unsuccessful campaign will translate to others. If this happens repeatedly, however, they might be more likely to stop giving.

The team also determined that the campaigns attract a certain kind of consumer, meaning the model often falls short of its promise of a more democratic market. The researchers discovered that backers tend to be people who work in creative fields, such as web designers, fashion designers and writers, and that they give to projects that match individual interests rather than ones that address collective societal needs. The result is that campaigns in areas such as music, film, publishing and gaming are more likely to succeed.

“Crowdfunding does expand access to the market, but it’s just not as democratic as it seems,” Maciel said. “It is democratic because people get to choose, but it’s not egalitarian.”

Having focused on the relationship between platform and consumers, the team intends to shift next to the relationship between platforms and producers. Maciel and Weinberger will look at what keeps producers from misusing funds and the benefits of choosing crowdfunding over a loan or other source of funds.

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