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2019 Annual Meeting Highlights


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How Trump and Brexit Affect Workplace Diversity

The Trump administration’s efforts to block Muslims and Latin Americans from entering the United States and the rise in racial, ethnic, and religious discrimination will be the focus of a discussion at the Academy of Management’s 2019 Annual Meeting. Researchers from American University of Beirut, EGADE Business School, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Minnesota State University, Nottingham Trent University, Universidad Anáhuac Mexico, and the University of Pretoria will explain the consequences for migrants and ethnic minorities and the implications for workplace diversity. The discussion, “Implications of Brexit and Trumpism for Ethnic Minority Migrants in the Workplace,” also will cover nationalist movements in Italy, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.


Amazon’s Quest for Efficiency Can Deliver Problems to Workers deliveries have become lightning-fast, but some of its workers have been struck with the consequences. At the Annual Meeting, a researcher from ICFAI Business School (IBS) Hyderabad will explain how performance targets were so strict that some workers apparently urinated in bottles to save time on bathroom trips. Wages were so low that some U.K. workers resorted to living in tents near Amazon warehouses. “The case raises the question of how Amazon, which was one of the world’s most valuable companies … could be forced to improve the working conditions of its workers, and whether consumers had a role to play in bringing about a positive change. This case … throws light on how the relentless focus on efficiency results in the exploitation of labor,” according to the researcher’s paper, “Dark Side Case:, Inc., and the Human Cost of Fast Shipping.”


Literally Fitting in May Be an Overlooked Factor for Fat Employees

Employees, especially women, who do not match common business-world assumptions about productivity and body size might face disadvantages. But discussions about how fat employees literally fit in at the workplace are rare. Researchers from Radboud University, the University of Copenhagen, and Utrecht University interviewed 22 Dutch female employees who identify themselves as “fat.” The researchers found that the employees face significant problems related to meeting some basic space needs, as well as the costs of tailor-made business clothes, orthopedic office chairs, and the need for roomier (or multiple) airline seats. Researchers will explain their findings in “What if I Don’t Fit? How Fat Employees Become the Organizational Other through Clothing and Seating.”


Hiring More Female Leaders May Not Boost Diversity

Many corporations are putting more women in top management roles to improve diversity up and down the pay scale. Does it work? Researchers from Texas A&M University and the University of Cambridge analyzed data from 195 of the largest U.S.-based law firms in their paper, “The Paradox of Diversity at the Top.” They found that increasing the number of female leaders reduced hiring prospects and increased attrition for women in junior ranks. The researchers will offer recommendations for business leaders to counter this tendency.


How Employees with Autism Can Benefit Organizations

Many people on the autism spectrum, even those with college degrees, are jobless or underemployed. Because people with autism may lack certain communication and social skills, few organizations have recognized the knowledge, skills, and abilities these employees can offer. Experts from Cornell, Hofstra, Saint Joseph’s, Tulane, Vanderbilt, and Western universities will discuss “How Can Organizations Promote the Inclusion of Individuals on the Autism Spectrum?” at the Annual Meeting. The experts will cover recruitment, selection, training, coaching, and mentoring. They also will explain ways managers can discern job-specific qualifications of applicants and employees on the autism spectrum.


Cultivating Healthy Work Cultures for LGBT Employees

Although some organizations have started adapting human resources polices to meet the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees, harassment and discrimination are still commonplace. A recent U.S. survey shows that 78% of transgender employees reported harassment at work, and 47% reported discrimination in hiring, promotions, or firings. Panelists from George Washington University, Macquarie University, Marquette University, Ramapo College of New Jersey, the University of Memphis, the University of Sydney, and Villanova University will discuss “Organizational Implications of Perceptions of LGBT Employees,” and how organizations and coworkers can foster inclusivity with LGBT employees.


Why Coworkers Shun Idea Thieves

Pablo Picasso and Steve Jobs are just two famous creative giants who openly credit stealing ideas for their successes. But a Cornell University researcher conducted multiple online studies among hundreds of participants and found that “idea thieves are subjected to worse character evaluations than a thief who has stolen money.” The researcher will discuss her paper, “How Bad Is It to Steal Ideas? Costs for a Thief and Implications for Workplace Dynamics,” and explain why coworkers are less likely to help idea thieves.


Cell Phone Breaks May Be Draining Your Brain

Everybody seems to be reaching for their cell phones between tasks and even mid-task. Researchers from Rutgers University conducted an experiment among 414 undergraduate students and asked them to take a break from doing a difficult task (solving anagrams) by choosing items to buy on paper, on a computer, or on their phones. Students who used their phones experienced the most mental fatigue and were least capable of accomplishing the tasks after the break. In their study, “Reach for Your Cell Phone at Your Own Risk: The Cognitive Costs of Media Choice for Breaks,” the researchers found that in some cases, taking cell phone breaks was no better than not taking a break at all.


Fewer, Irregular Work Hours Can Spur Turnover and Slash Productivity

Fewer average weekly working hours and changing schedules from week to week can make things difficult for low-wage retail employees and their families. Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have found that such schedules can also hurt company performance. By analyzing data on more than 77,000 employees at more than 1,500 stores over 52 weeks at a large specialty retailer, the researchers found that inconsistent hours and low weekly hours increase employee turnover and decrease productivity, at both the individual and store levels. “Having a typical employee, who works 16 hours per week, instead work 26 hours per week, without changing the total hours worked at the store, can increase their sales per hour between 12% and 20%,” according to the researchers. “A labor strategy with fewer employees, each getting more hours and more consistent schedules, would not only create better jobs, but also help companies lower their turnover costs and improve productivity.” The researchers will discuss details of their findings in “The Effect of Unstable Schedules on Employee Turnover Productivity.”


CEOs’ Political Ideologies May Affect the CEO-Worker Pay Gap

These days, CEOs who take home hundreds of times the pay of their average workers have been the focus of recent news coverage. But how CEOs’ political ideologies may play a role is rarely studied. Researchers from City University of Hong Kong and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam analyzed data from a sample of U.S. public firms. They found that politically liberal CEOs tend to prefer a relatively smaller CEO-worker pay gap, but conservative CEOs seem less likely to do so. “CEO political ideology is a critical factor in influencing pay inequality,” the researchers wrote in their paper, “Is Red or Blue More Likely to Make a Fat King and Lean Beggar? The Effect of CEO Political Ideology.”


Automation May Hit African-Americans and Latinos Hardest

Automation will affect all Americans, but it will have a significant effect on African-American and Latino workers who are more likely to be employed in the 10 occupations that are expected to be automated within the next two decades. Problems will include growing skills and wage gaps. Researchers from Alabama A&M, Coastal Carolina, and Harvard universities will discuss their paper, “Preparing Minority Workers for the Future of Work with Automation,” and provide strategic solutions for these employees.


Was Nestlé’s Child Slavery Admission Just a Media Deflection?

To widespread surprise, in November 2015, Nestlé announced finding slavery in its seafood supply chain in Thailand. Many industry observers applauded Nestlé for the admission, but others wondered whether Nestlé’s admission was just an attempt to fend off child labor allegations in other parts of its business. Before November 2015, Nestlé also had been facing allegations of using child labor in its cocoa supply chain in Ivory Coast. Researchers from ICFAI Business School (IBS) Hyderabad will discuss their paper, “Dark Side Case: Nestlé and Modern Slavery,” at the Annual Meeting.


Technology Solutions for Refugees

For more than 68 million refugees worldwide, decreasing amounts of aid and increasing intolerance in host countries is making survival even more difficult. Among refugees, Syrians are reportedly the most tech-savvy, which has raised questions related to smartphones and privacy, safety, and government intervention. A discussion titled “Refugees and Information Technology: Greater Opportunities or Novel Concerns?” at the 2019 Annual Meeting will include business leaders, entrepreneurs, information technologists, and researchers from the American University of Beirut, the American University of Sharjah, the Centre for Socio-Eco-Nomic Development (CSEND), Lancaster University, McMaster University, Nazareth College, Rochester Refugee Resettlement Services, Tilburg University, the University of Basel, and the University of Oslo. They plan to lay the groundwork for policies and research to address refugees and technology.


Leadership from Beyond the Grave

What do founders Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, William Cooper Procter, and Bill Hewlett and David Packard have in common? They’re “organizational ghosts” whose memories are alive and well and still influencing the companies they created. Researchers from Boston College, Brigham Young University, HEC Montreal, Lancaster University, Newcastle University, Université du Québec à Montréal, Université TÉLUQ, University College London, the University of Bath, and the University of the Pacific, will explain how such figures, as well as the founders of Delta Airlines and centuries-old Japanese firms, are kept alive by their successors. The discussion, titled “Organizational Ghosts: How Historic Leaders Live on Beyond the Grave,” will focus on how these founders serve as sources of motivation, accountability, and legitimacy.


Translating #MeToo into Fair and Inclusive Organizations

Against a backdrop of #MeToo and #TimesUp, researchers from Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Toronto will explain how the relationship between sex and power can promote work environments that are hostile to women. These researchers will discuss “Sex and Power in the Workplace: Understanding Barriers to Gender Inclusion in the #MeToo Era,” and ways business leaders and victims’ advocates can foster justice and inclusion in organizations.


How AI Affects Hiring, Democracy, and the World’s First Trillionaires

Managers and organizations are adapting to artificial intelligence and its consequences on a global scale. Researchers from Columbia University, INSEAD, New York University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Warwick will explain how randomness in human decision-making offers a solution to detecting human biases in machine learning, and how organizations can address the ways AI can hurt social equality and democracy. The discussion, “Machines vs Humans: How Can We Adapt Organizations to AI?” also will cover AI biases in recruiting and hiring due to male dominance in the IT industry, and how AI will help create the world’s first trillionaires.

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