Tag: Lamar Pierce



As companies trim their hierarchies and form teams of employees to manage themselves, WashU Olin researchers are sounding warning bells. 

Inequity “is likely to be a significant problem”—especially for women, who made one-fourth less than their male counterparts in a new study of self-managed teams.

Lamar Pierce

Women “consistently receive bargaining outcomes below their productivity level, while men are consistently overcompensated,” Olin’s Lamar Pierce and Dennis J. Zhang, with Laura Wang of the University of Illinois, write in “Peer Bargaining and Productivity in Teams: Gender and the Inequitable Division of Pay.” The paper is forthcoming at Manufacturing & Service Operations Management. 

Zappos, Google, Facebook and others have adopted them. The teams are meant to boost productivity, offer flexibility, attract young people and foster creativity. Ideally, they allocate tasks based on employees’ strengths and then assign rewards—equitably—based on their contributions.

But how well do the teams actually work?

Dennis Zhang
Dennis J. Zhang

“Inherently, they aren’t as awesome as people think,” said Pierce, professor of organization and strategy and associate dean of the Olin-Brookings Partnership. (Zhang, professor of operations and manufacturing management, was in Beijing and unavailable for an interview.)

Finding: Women were paid 24% less than men

For 50 months, Pierce, Zhang and Wang studied productivity and bargaining traits in a service operation setting: a chain of 32 large beauty salons with 932 workers in China. About half (54%) of the workers were men. 

They found that the men consistently extracted “advantageous bargaining values from their female coworkers, despite having no observable productivity advantage.”

In fact, women in the sample earned at least 24% less than their equally productive male counterparts. 

That gender pay gap is larger than the pay gaps found in places with hierarchical management structures. A 2005 study found a gap of 10% in Asia and larger inequities in the United States and Europe.

The new evidence on self-managed teams has implications for US organizations.

“You see these dynamics playing out in Silicon Valley all the time. You see them playing out in academia,” Pierce said. 

“Social interactions between men and women have consistencies across culture, across economic class, across age,” he said. “Show me the culture where women don’t tend to get worse negotiation or bargaining outcomes.”

‘Stuck with a bunch of overpaid men’

A combination of higher “prosociality” and lower bargaining power in women most likely explains the 24% wage disparity, the researchers report. Prosocial behavior includes feeling concern for others and acting to benefit them. 

When the workers divided their own team-based compensation, women were severely underpaid for their productivity. Consider this: Women were the top salespeople in the beauty salons, and those women took home only the median wage.

“This is really bad because they’re going to leave, and when they leave then (the company is) going to be stuck with a bunch of overpaid men,” Pierce said.

The researchers compiled data from three sources between April 2009 and May 2013: Point-of-sale from each salon, which included every service and card-for-service transaction; the internal human resource system that included the commission paid to each worker for each transaction; and detailed demographic information of each worker in those transactions.

They found that gender “strongly predicts” under- or overcompensation relative to productivity. Men made up a disproportionate number of highly paid yet unproductive workers. Women overrepresented “star employees” with poor bargaining outcomes.

The researchers used a previously proven algorithm to confirm gender as the strongest predictor of bargaining outcomes.

Out of sight, out of mind

Pierce emphasized that self-managed teams can work well—with clear guidelines in place. The study highlights how important it is to monitor and enforce pay equity in self-managed teams. After all, those teams assign tasks, responsibilities and rewards for teammates.

“Because this design decision effectively puts inequity ‘out of sight for the manager,’ it may also put this inequity ‘out of mind,’” the researchers write. But that doesn’t abdicate a manager’s responsibility to stem bias and discrimination. One solution is to set up formal rules for the assignments of tasks and rewards, the findings suggest. 

“Do you have safeguards in place to ensure that the person who gets all the credit, who gets the rewards, who gets the best task is not simply the one who bargains the best or bargains the most aggressively?” Pierce asked. 

The research findings also imply that firms could cut costs by replacing overpaid workers. And the findings show that good workers who are underpaid lose motivation—and often leave.

“Managers must anticipate and mitigate this gender-based inequity,” the researchers write. That’s because it is an operational performance issue. And “because of the myriad of productivity, retention and ethical implications that can result from peer-based bargaining.”




David Nicklaus looks for answers in a recent column featuring an interview with Olin’s Lamar Pierce.

The great economist Milton Friedman famously argued that a business’s only social responsibility is to make more money, and his view dominated boardroom thinking for decades. What has caused big business to abandon Friedman’s principle? Lamar Pierce, associate professor of organization and strategy at Washington University’s Olin Business School, thinks it’s the advent of social media and the 24-hour news cycle. “Because of the changing nature of media, it’s easier to get messages out very quickly, and it’s more important to get them out,” Pierce says.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“CEOs turn activists when social issues affect the bottom line”
4/17/16
Link to article




Landmark, Big Data Research of 262,000+ People Reveals Income, Employment, Health, and Age Strongly Relate to Happiness

Pittsburgh, PA (PRWEB) May 13, 2015   Polling and consumer insights company CivicScience today made an unprecedented research study available to the public in hopes of furthering our collective understanding of happiness and its root causes. Called “Profiling Happy” (#profilinghappy), the study looks at reported levels of happiness from over 262,000 Americans and their relationship to thousands of other attributes for demographics, lifestyle traits, media behaviors, and other characteristics.

happy facesCivicScience has published the study’s large set of aggregate cross-tabulations to allow researchers, journalists, and other individuals to analyze characteristics that are most correlated with happiness and unhappiness.

It is available for the public to download at: http://info.civicscience.com/profilinghappy/

“Even though many studies have looked at particular aspects of happiness, we believe this may be the largest empirical study ever conducted about human traits and attributes that most strongly align with happiness,” said John Dick, founder and CEO of CivicScience. “Given that May is Mental Health Awareness month, we believe these insights are well timed and should provoke more discussion and societal thinking about things that relate to happiness, and to unhappiness too.”

Examples of some key findings in CivicScience’s Profiling Happy study include:

  •     Aggregate Happiness: The good news is that overall, the general population is six times more likely to say they are happy than unhappy.
  •     Income: Many higher income traits are closely associated with greater happiness, particularly when looking at how one “splurges” on oneself.
  •     Employment: Happiness in one’s job is one of the strongest correlations with overall happiness, and being unhappy in a job more greatly associates with unhappiness than being unemployed.
  •     Health: Those who say they are healthy overall are 11X more likely to be happy, while those who say they are not healthy are 133% more likely to be unhappy.
  •     Age: Beginning with 30 to 34 year-olds, every age group gets progressively happier than the general population, peaking among those aged 65 and older.

Hundreds of additional attributes ranked by happiness are published in the full online report.

Lamar Pierce, Associate Professor of Organization and Strategy at Olin School, Washington University in St. Louis (and a CivicScience academic advisor), stated: “One of the project’s goals is to harness the collective expertise of the many researchers and thought leaders who study the roots of happiness. These data represent the tremendous potential for CivicScience to facilitate expanding our knowledge on consumers, health, beliefs, and broader public welfare.”

Added CivicScience’s John Dick, “While we’re excited about many of the insights the study uncovered, we hope other researchers, students, writers, designers, deep-thinkers, and even comedians will find things that we missed. We can’t wait to see what people uncover.”

CivicScience invites the public to review the data, talk about it on social sites using the hashtag #profilinghappy and to submit infographics based on the data for inclusion on the company’s blog.

About the methodology for this study:

The consumer sentiment data in the Profiling Happy report were collected from January 1, 2013 to April 24, 2015 from 262,674 respondents who answered CivicScience web polls hosted by a network of hundreds of diverse, third-party publisher sites. Respondents voluntarily answered the polls with no financial incentives. All respondents included in this report answered the question “How happy are you today?” as well as questions about gender and age group, to ensure the data is weighted for U.S. Census representativeness for those demographics. Respondents also answered any number of other possible poll questions spanning a range of topical categories — from core demographics to personal finances, media consumption, shopping preferences, politics and ideology, health and wellness, lifestyle, and more. For any given question highlighted in this report, a minimum of 2,000 respondents were collected. Respondents were further filtered and sorted by other statistical models (refer to the Glossary in the full report).

About CivicScience

CivicScience, Inc. provides the leading intelligent polling and real-time insights platform, the InsightStore™. Its proprietary platform powers the world’s opinions and quickly gets that data to the decision makers who care. Every day, CivicScience polls ask millions of people questions related to thousands of topics, while its powerful data science and big data technology analyzes current consumer opinions, discovers trends as they start, and accurately predicts future behaviors and market outcomes. CivicScience polls run on hundreds of premier websites, in addition to its own public polling site at http://www.civicscience.com. CivicScience’s InsightStore™ is used by leading enterprises in marketing research, advertising, media, financial services, and political polling.

For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/05/prweb12716463.htm

Image: sciondriver, happiness, Flickr Creative Commons




USA Today, July 13, 2014: “Retirement saving makes one wealthy, healthy”
Workers who are saving for retirement are more inclined to take care of their health than those who aren’t salting away money in their nest egg, according to a study conducted by Lamar Pierce, an associate professor at Olin Business School at Washington University, and doctoral candidate Timothy Gubler. The reason has to do with something called time discounting – a person’s tendency to value smaller immediate rewards over future desired results. See also: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Business Insider, World Science, WUSTL News