Just Diverse Among Themselves: How Does Negative Performance Feedback Affect Boards’ Expertise vs. Ascriptive Diversity? 

Organization Science 34 (2), 2023 (with Yonghoon G. Lee and Sun Hyun Park)


We investigate how negative performance feedback affects board diversity, which is instrumental in shaping a firm’s strategic change. When a firm underperforms compared with its aspiration, its board is motivated to promptly address the underperformance. The board needs to not only help search for strategic alternatives but also quickly build consensus around its strategic reorientation. These two motivations lead the board to value two dimensions of diversity among its members differently. On the one hand, to understand the problem of underperformance and find a solution, the board is motivated to seek new expertise, avoiding redundancy in the pool of expertise already represented in the boardroom. This results in a higher level of diversity in director expertise. On the other hand, the urgent need to build consensus prompts the board to value trust and solidarity and to avoid potential conflict among directors. Because people perceive others with similar ascriptive backgrounds as trustworthy, changes in the board of an underperforming firm are likely to yield a lower level of diversity in its members’ ascriptive backgrounds. These changes in board are affected by the committee chairs of the board whose power and influence are significant in the boardroom. Analyses of the boards of 733 U.S. listed manufacturing firms show that when a firm underperforms compared with its aspirations, it increases the board expertise diversity, but decreases the board ascriptive diversity. When chairs on the board are gender or racial minorities, the negative association between underperformance and the board ascriptive diversity is weakened. 

Anchored Differentiation: The Role of Temporal Distance in the Comparison and Evaluation of New Product Designs

Organization Science 32(6), 2021 (with Tian Heong Chan  and Yonghoon G. Lee)


A new design can be compared with its contemporaries or older designs. In this study, we argue that the temporal distance between the new design and its comparison play an important role in understanding how a new design’s similarity with other designs contributes to its valuation. Construing the value of designs as a combination of their informational value and their expressive value, we propose the “anchored differentiation” hypothesis. Specifically, we argue that expressive value (which is enhanced by how much the new design appears different from others) is emphasized more than informational value (which is enhanced by how much the new design appears similar to others) compared with contemporary designs. Informational value, however, is emphasized more than expressive value when compared against designs from the past. Therefore, both difference from other contemporary designs (contemporary differentiation) and similarity to other past designs (past anchoring) help increase the value of a new design. We find consistent evidence for our theory across both a field study and an experimental study. Furthermore, we show that this is because temporal distance changes the relative emphasis on expressive and informational values. We discuss our contribution to the growing literature on optimal distinctiveness and design innovation by offering a dynamic perspective that helps resolve the tension between similarities and differences in evaluating new designs.

Academy of Management Journal 60(1), 2017 (with Balagopal Vissa and Michael Pich)


How do founding team members allocate task positions when launching new ventures? Answering this question is important because prior work shows both that founding team members often have correlated expertise, thus making task position allocation problematic; and initial occupants of task positions exert a lingering effect on venture outcomes. We draw on status characteristics theory to derive predictions on how co-founders’ specific expertise cues and diffuse status cues drive initial task position allocation. We also examine the performance consequences of mismatches between the task position and position occupant. Qualitative fieldwork, combined with a quasi-experimental simulation game and an experiment, provides causal tests of the conceptual framework. We find that co-founders whose diffuse status cues of gender (male), ethnicity (white), or achievement (occupational prestige or academic honors) indicated general ability were typical occupants of higher-ranked positions, such as chief executive officer role, within the founding team. In addition, specific expertise cues that indicated relevant ability predicted task position allocation. Founding teams created more financially valuable ventures when task position occupants’ diffuse status cues were typical for the position; nonetheless position occupants with high diffuse status cues also appropriated more of the created value. Our results inform both entrepreneurship and status characteristics literature.

Prevalence of voice handicap among nurses in intensive care units due to occupational noise during pandemic

Front. Public Health, Sec. Occupational Health and Safety 11, 2023 (with Ziwei Song and PJ Lee)

Background: Healthcare workers have been identified as being at risk of occupational voice disorders. Among them, nurses working in intensive care units (ICUs) are particularly vulnerable due to the risk factors that are associated with their exposure to high levels of noise. Thus, this study aimed to determine the prevalence of voice disorders among ICU nurses.

Methods: A questionnaire was administered to 100 ICU nurses from four hospitals in China. The questionnaire assessed vocal-related symptoms, perceived voice handicap, frequently heard noise sources, and the quality of communications.

Results: Results indicate that the most frequently reported voice symptoms were ‘voice tiredness’ and ‘voiceless’. Nurses working more than 50 h per week experienced voice symptoms more frequently than nurses working for 40–50 h per week. The median value of the perceived voice handicap score (VHI-30) was 23, indicating mild voice handicap, while 24% of the nurses reported severe voice handicap. Longer working hours and working at patient wards were significantly associated with higher VHI-30 scores. The nurses also reported that the quality of verbal communication with patients and colleagues and voice problems worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Conclusion: More than 20% of nurses reported severe voice handicap, however, voice handicap among ICU nurses did not appear universally to all nurses. Further research is necessary to identify the risk factors associated with voice disorders and the mechanism behind such heterogeneity among ICU nurses.

Book chapters:

What does a status of financial advisors do in endorsing corporate acquisitions

Forthcoming at Advances in Mergers and Acquisitions, vol. 23 (with Yonghoon G. Lee)