Adam M Grant

Adam M Grant
University of Pennsylvania | UP · Management Department

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58
Publications
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Publications

Publications (58)
Article
Managers face hard choices between process and outcome systems of accountability in evaluating employees, but little is known about how managers resolve them. Building on the premise that political ideologies serve as uncertainty-reducing heuristics, two studies of working managers show that: (1) conservatives prefer outcome accountability and libe...
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Researchers have suggested that both ambiguity and values play important roles in shaping employees' proactive behaviors, but have not theoretically or empirically integrated these factors. Drawing on theories of situational strength and values, we propose that ambiguity constitutes a weak situation that strengthens the relationship between the con...
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Despite the widespread assumption that extraverts are the most productive salespeople, research has shown weak and conflicting relationships between extraversion and sales performance. In light of these puzzling results, I propose that the relationship between extraversion and sales performance is not linear but curvilinear: Ambiverts achieve great...
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Employees make decisions every day about whether to contribute to others--and their willingness to help is crucial to group and organizational effectiveness. But in a competitive, often zero-sum, world of work, generosity can be a dangerous path. How can leaders foster it without cutting into productivity, undermining fairness, and allowing employe...
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In the human quest for meaning, work occupies a central position. Most adults spend the majority of their waking hours at work, which often serves as a primary source of purpose, belongingness, and identity. In light of these benefits to employees and their organizations, organizational scholars are increasingly interested in understanding the fact...
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We develop theory about how growing at work is an interpretive accomplishment in which individuals sense that they are making progressive self-change. Through a study of how employees interpret themselves as growing at three organizations, we develop a theoretical account of how employees draw from contextual and personal resources to interpret the...
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OBJECTIVE: To study value change, this research presents an intervention with multiple exercises, designed to instigate change through both effortful and automatic routes. Aiming to increase the importance attributed to benevolence values, which reflect the motivation to help and care for others, the intervention combines three mechanisms for value...
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When and why does the experience of helping others at work spill over into positive affect at home? This paper presents a within‐person examination of the association between perceived prosocial impact at work and positive affect at home, as well as the psychological mechanisms that mediate this relationship. Sixty‐eight firefighters and rescue wor...
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We investigate how, why and when activating economic schemas reduces the compassion that individuals extend to others in need when delivering bad news. Across three experiments, we show that unobtrusively priming economic schemas decreases the compassion that individuals express to others in need, that this effect is mediated by dampened feelings o...
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Research shows that reflecting on benefits received can make people happier, but it is unclear whether or not such reflection makes them more helpful. Receiving benefits can promote prosocial behavior through reciprocity and positive affect, but these effects are often relationship-specific, short-lived, and complicated by ambivalent reactions. We...
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Do people give more when benefits to others and oneself are emphasized? We propose that mixing egoistic and altruistic reasons reduces the likelihood of giving by increasing individuals' awareness that a persuasion attempt is occurring, which elicits psychological reactance. In Experiment 1, university alumni were less like-ly to give money to thei...
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Although transformational leadership is thought to increase followers' performance by motivating them to transcend self-interest, rhetoric alone may not be sufficient. I propose that transformational leadership is most effective in motivating followers when they interact with the beneficiaries of their work, which highlights how the vision has mean...
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Diseases often spread in hospitals because health care professionals fail to wash their hands. Research suggests that to increase health and safety behaviors, it is important to highlight the personal consequences for the actor. However, because people (and health care professionals in particular) tend to be overconfident about personal immunity, t...
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Although initiative is thought to contribute to higher performance, researchers have called for a more comprehensive understanding of the contingencies for this relationship. Building on self-determination theory, we propose that initiative is more likely to predict performance when individuals experience autonomous and not controlled motivation. A...
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Although ideological messages are thought to inspire employee performance, research has shown mixed results. Typically, ideological messages are delivered by leaders, but employees may be suspicious of ulterior motives—leaders may merely be seeking to inspire higher performance. As such, we propose that these messages are often more effective when...
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Aristotle proposed that to achieve happiness and success, people should cultivate virtues at mean or intermediate levels between deficiencies and excesses. In stark contrast to this assertion that virtues have costs at high levels, a wealth of psychological research has focused on demonstrating the well-being and performance benefits of positive tr...
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Evidence establishes that employees often expand their roles to take on broader responsibilities in response to direct requests from others. However, surprisingly little research has investigated the interpersonal influence processes through which individuals convince others to expand their roles. We develop a conceptual framework to explain how se...
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Although many scholars believe that intrinsic motivation fuels creativity, research has returned equivocal results. Drawing on motivated information processing theory, we propose that the relationship between intrinsic motivation and creativity is enhanced by other-focused psychological processes. Perspective taking, as generated by proso-cial moti...
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Aristotle proposed that to achieve happiness and success, people should cultivate virtues at mean or intermediate levels between deficiencies and excesses. In stark contrast to this assertion that virtues have costs at high levels, a wealth of psychological research has focused on demonstrating the well-being and performance benefits of positive tr...
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Full-text available
Scholars have identified benefits of viewing work as a calling, but little research has explored the notion that people are frequently unable to work in occupations that answer their callings. To develop propositions on how individuals experience and pursue unanswered callings, we conducted a qualitative study based on interviews with 31 employees...
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As public service motivation research gains momentum, important questions emerge regarding its origins and consequences that are not addressed by existing research. The authors identify some fundamental public service motivation assumptions, including critical gaps in our current understanding of its basic tenets. The authors then discuss specific...
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Although research has established that receiving expressions of gratitude increases prosocial behavior, little is known about the psychological mechanisms that mediate this effect. We propose that gratitude expressions can enhance prosocial behavior through both agentic and communal mechanisms, such that when helpers are thanked for their efforts,...
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This special issue introduces new cross-disciplinary, cross-level, and cross-cultural perspectives on job design. The authors examine job design from the viewpoints of organizational behavior, sociology, economics, corporate strategy, entrepreneurship, and evolutionary psychology. They consider job design in the context of interpersonal interaction...
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Although evidence suggests that negative task and self-evaluations are associated with emotional exhaustion, little research has examined factors that buffer against these effects. We propose that perceived prosocial impact, the experience of helping others, compensates for negative task and self-evaluations by focusing attention on positive outcom...
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Although core self-evaluations have been linked to higher job performance, research has shown variability in the strength of this relationship. We propose that high core self-evaluations are more likely to increase job performance for other-oriented employees, who tend to anticipate feelings of guilt and gratitude. We tested these hypotheses across...
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Although death awareness is pervasive in organizations and can have powerful effects on employees' experiences and behaviors, scholars have paid little attention to it. We develop a theoretical model of the nature, antecedents, and consequences of death awareness at work. We differentiate death anxiety and reflection as distinct states that strengt...
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Although quasi-experiments can facilitate causal inferences by combining good internal validity with high external validity, organizational scholars underutilize them. In this article, the authors aim to encourage the novel use of quasi-experimentation by identifying five of its key benefits: (a) strengthening causal inference when random assignmen...
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Although scholars often assume that individuals seek out experts when they need help, recent research suggests that seeking help from experts can be costly. The authors propose that perceiving potential help providers as accessible or trustworthy can reduce the costs of seeking help and thus encourage individuals to seek help from experts. They fur...
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Researchers have discovered inconsistent relationships between prosocial motives and citizenship behaviors. We draw on impression management theory to propose that impression management motives strengthen the association between prosocial motives and affiliative citizenship by encouraging employees to express citizenship in ways that both "do good"...
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The authors propose that in mission-driven organizations, prosocially motivated employees are more likely to perform effectively when trust cues enhance their perceptions of task significance. The authors develop and test a model linking prosocial motivation, trust cues, task significance, and performance across 3 studies of fundraisers using 3 dif...
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Although proactive behavior is important in organizations, it is not always appreciated by supervisors. To explain when supervisors reward proactivity with higher overall performance evaluations, we draw on attribution theory. We propose that employees' values and affect send signals about their underlying intentions, which influence supervisors' a...
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Considerable research has examined how procedural injustice affects victims and witnesses of unfavorable outcomes, with little attention to the “performers” who deliver these outcomes. Drawing on dissonance theory, we hypothesized that performers' reactions to procedural injustice in delivering unfavorable outcomes are moderated by prosocial identi...
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Many scholars assume that the fundamental questions about work design have been answered. However, a global shift from manufacturing economies to service and knowledge economies has dramatically altered the nature of work in organizations. To keep pace with these important and rapid changes, work design theory and research is undergoing a transform...
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After we highlight the importance of job design in scholarship and practice, we provide a selective history of the major theoretical perspectives and empirical findings in the job design literature. Our review includes economic perspectives on the division of labor, the human relations movement and the emergence of job enrichment, the job character...
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Many scholars assume that the fundamental questions about work design have been answered. However, a global shift from manufacturing economies to service and knowledge economies has dramatically altered the nature of work in organizations. To keep pace with these important and rapid changes, work design theory and research is undergoing a transform...
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As the organizational literature on specific proactive behaviors grows, researchers have noted inefficiencies and redundancies in the separate study of different proactive behaviors when their underlying nature, antecedents, processes, and consequences may be similar. We develop a framework designed to generalize across specific manifestations of p...
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Researchers have assumed that employee support programs cultivate affective organizational commitment by enabling employees to receive support. Using multimethod data from a Fortune 500 retail company, we propose that these programs also strengthen commitment by enabling employees to give support. We find that giving strengthens affective organizat...
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Public service employees often lack opportunities to see the prosocial impact of their jobs—how their efforts make a difference in other people's lives. Drawing on recent job design theory and research, I tested the hypothesis that the motivation of public service employees can be enhanced by connecting them to their prosocial impact. In a longitud...
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Researchers have obtained conflicting results about the role of prosocial motivation in persistence, performance, and productivity. To resolve this discrepancy, I draw on self-determination theory, proposing that prosocial motivation is most likely to predict these outcomes when it is accompanied by intrinsic motivation. Two field studies support t...
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Does task significance increase job performance? Correlational designs and confounded manipulations have prevented researchers from assessing the causal impact of task significance on job performance. To address this gap, 3 field experiments examined the performance effects, relational mechanisms, and boundary conditions of task significance. In Ex...
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Although employees are increasingly interested in jobs that enable them to do good, we know relatively little about how jobs are structured to provide these opportunities. To fill this gap, I report three studies that examine the dimensions and psychological consequences of two prosocial job characteristics that enable employees to make a positive...
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Service employees often perceive their actions as harming and benefiting others, and these perceptions have significant consequences for their own well-being. We conducted two studies to test the hypothesis that perceptions of benefiting others attenuate the detrimental effects of perceptions of harming others on the well-being of service employees...
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Leading theories of job design have neglected to incorporate the important context of time into their premises, hindering these theories' explanatory power and utility. We demonstrate how systematically incorporating the context of time, in relation to the specific example of career dynamics, will improve our understanding of job design. We discuss...
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Although managerial practices are often structured with the explicit goal of improving performance by increasing employee well-being, these practices frequently create tradeoffs between different dimensions of employee well-being, whereby one aspect of employee well-being improves but another aspect of employee well-being decreases. We call attenti...
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We tested the hypothesis that employees are willing to maintain their motivation when their work is relationally designed to provide opportunities for respectful contact with the beneficiaries of their efforts. In Experiment 1, a longitudinal field experiment in a fundraising organization, callers in an intervention group briefly interacted with a...
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This article illustrates how work contexts motivate employees to care about making a positive difference in other people's lives. I introduce a model of relational job design to describe how jobs spark the motivation to make a prosocial difference, and how this motivation affects employees' actions and identities. Whereas existing research fo-cuses...
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Ethical challenges abound in HRM. Each day, in the course of executing and communicating HR decisions, managers have the potential to change, shape, redirect, and fundamentally alter the course of other people's lives. Managers make hiring decisions that reward selected applicants with salaries, benefits, knowledge, and skills, but leave the remain...
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Social mechanisms are theoretical cogs and wheels that explain how and why one thing leads to another. Mechanisms can run from macro to micro (e.g., explaining the effects of organizational socialization practices or compensation systems on individual actions), micro to micro (e.g., social comparison processes), or micro to macro (e.g., how cogniti...
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hriving describes an individual's experience of vitality and learning. The primary goal of this paper is to develop a model that illuminates the social embeddedness of employees' thriving at work. First, we explain why thriving is a useful theoretical construct, define thriving, and compare it to related constructs, including resilience, flourishin...
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for the development of the process model of thriving that we draw on in this paper. We also thank the other members of the Best Self Research Lab (Laura Morgan Roberts, Jane Dutton, Emily Heaphy, and Brianna Barker) for their research on the reflected best self.