Research

Working Papers

Decision-making in organizations: Selecting polysemantic laws, 2012. (with Eric Abrahamson)

All of the institutions with which corporations interact are housed with the legal system. Due to this, it is crucial to study not only business strategy but also legal strategy. We study the setting of the U.S. legal system and focus on the prosecutor as the focal actor. The prosecutor selects the statute or statutes used in a case and possesses the ability to switch statutes between the indictment and trial stage, which is crucial to her discretionary abilities. The corporate world is rife with examples of prosecutors using polysemantic statutes, defined here legal statutes that have several potential interpretations that can be utilized to the advantage of the focal actor, to increase their performance, or conviction rate. We explore this type of behavior and attempt to disentangle the processes that it involves. To do so, we employ a dataset of nearly 73,000 federal criminal cases in order to explore the relationship between polysemantic laws and conviction. We confirm our hypotheses that more polysemantic laws are associated with higher level of conviction, controlling for the skill of the prosecutor. Further, this relationship is moderated by the amount of fine involved in the case.

The people's hired guns? Experimentally testing the inclination of prosecutors to abuse the vague definition of crimes, 2012. (with Christoph Engel) Under review

Legal realists expect prosecutors to be selfish. If they get the defendant convicted, this helps them advance their careers. If the odds of winning on the main charge are low, prosecutors have a second option. They can exploit the ambiguity of legal doctrine and charge the defendant for vaguely defined crimes, like "conspiracy". We model the situation as a signaling game and test it experimentally. If we have participants play the naked game, at least a minority plays the game theoretic equilibrium and use the vague rule if a signal indicates that the defendant is guilty. This becomes even slightly more frequent if a misbehaving defendant imposes harm on a third participant. By contrast if we frame the situation as a court case, almost all prosecutors take the signal at face value and knowingly run the risk of losing in court if the signal was false. Our experimental prosecutors behave like textbook legal idealists, and follow the urge of duty. Click here for the appendix

Context and the crowding out of pro-social motivations, 2012.

The purpose of this experiment is to determine whether there are context effects on the crowding out of intrinsic motivation by economic incentives. In order to test this claim, MBA students are asked to play a version of the trust game. We introduce two contexts: an intra-firm and a business-to-business frame. In the former, participants are assigned the roles of manager and employee while in the latter they are assigned roles of Vice Presidents of different companies. The prediction of the study is that in the business-to-business treatment, crowding out will be less extreme due to the fact that reciprocal relationships are not expected to be based on intrinsic motives in that context. In other words, the context truly matters and determines the extent of crowding out that occurs.

The Multidivisional Structure: Did its International Diffusion Follow a Random Walk?, 2012. (with Bruce Kogut)

Many studies have been performed that examined the patterns of diffusion of the administrative innovation of the multidivisional form (M-form). A corporate structure consisting of a head office that coordinates the operations of divisions parsed by geographic area or industry, the M-form was first disseminated widely in the 1960s and observed by Chandler (1962). Although primarily conducted in the United States, many studies have focused on European patterns of diffusion. In this study, we seek to explore firm factors, contagion effects, and country level characteristics that influence the adoption of the M-form in three European countries and the United States. A debate has emerged among scholars about whether or not the diffusion of administrative innovations stems from what is commonly referred to as the Americanization of management practices (Meyer 2002, Kipping and Bjarnar 1998). This thesis stands in contrast to the idea that diffusion is a result of individual country characteristics. Here, we seek to contribute to this debate. By employing a multi-level analysis, we combine firm-level data with data about each country to derive conclusions that seek to explain some of the systematic country differences observed in patterns of diffusion of the M-form administrative innovation.

 

Teaching

This fall, I am teaching the Strategic Management course for Undergraduate Seniors at Manhattan College. This class is listed as MGMT 406. In this course, we focus on how managers analyze key environmental forces and then formulate, implement and evaluate strategies. We will consider various normative strategic planning models and discuss cases featuring small businesses, profit and non-profit firms, and multinational corporations.

I also have experience working with MBA, and Executive MBA students.

 

Links

Here are the webpages of my co-authors:

Christoph Engel----- Eric Abrahamson----- Bruce Kogut-----

 

And the link to my university webpage