Current research projects

  • Killing project initiatives: How leaders juggle project termination messages and face sensitivity. There is a good amount of research on how firms end new projects. Little research, though, focuses on the communicative messages leaders use to tell innovators their projects are being terminated. Drawing from politeness theory we explore how face-sensitive and face-threatening messages tied to termination decisions affect the willingness of innovators to generate new project initiatives.

  • Sales anxiety; Its nature and correlates. People vary, we suggest, in how they feel about personal selling. In a six studies, we develop and test the validity of a brief measure of sales anxiety.
  • How being dispersed affects employee recognition. Organizations regularly recognize the work of outstanding employees. Does whether an employee works face-to-face with a manager or works afar from that manager affect how that manager argues for the employee receiving recognition for outstanding work? We find that managers offer more compelling and specific arguments for co-located employees. There is a cost for working apart from one's manager. 
  • Interpersonal sulking
  • The demography of social influence

Long term book projects

  • Making it: Personal strategies for succeeding at work. For a number of years I have been quizzing successful leaders in organizations about their secrets of success. What made them so successful? Why did they succeed and not other people? What tricks did they find useful as they climbed that proverbial ladder (it is more often a greasy pole)? What have they seen others do that made them successful? What advice do they have for someone who wants to succeed? I'm interested in very specific moves that have worked for these people. And, importantly, what does academic research tell is about those moves. This will, at some point, be a book. 
  • The politics of standardization. Virtually everything we encounter has been standardized at some point. Railroads, weights and measures, records, computers, screws and bolts, lighting and plumbing fixtures, time zones, construction equipment, fashion, and so many other parts of our lives all have established standards. How are these standards created? Most current thinking frames standard-setting as a consequence of learned discussions among technical experts. The goal of these discussions is to identify the best standards. I am interested in another aspect of standard settings--the politics of how standards are established. Too often the best technical standards lose out to standards that are better "sold." How do companies and individuals get buy-in for their preferred standard?