Abstracts on Social Influence

The Expanding, Lop-Sided Universe of Social Influence and Law Research

Ode to the Sea: Workplace Organizations And Norms Of Cooperation

Shady characters: The implications of illicit organizational roles for resilient team performance

Punctuated incongruity: A new approach to managing tradeoffs between conformity and deviation

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The Expanding, Lop-Sided Universe of Social Influence and Law Research
Linda J. Demaine, Arizona State University

This chapter explores “social influence and the law,” which we conceptualize as consisting of three parts: (1) social influence in the legal system, (2) the legal regulation of social influence in our everyday lives, and (3) law as an instrument of social influence. Within each part, we identify the primary topics that psychologists have studied empirically and review the existing research. The review thus highlights the many and varied contributions of psychologists related to social influence and the law. The review also reveals a marked imbalance in the social influence and law literature—the vast majority of psychological research falls within the first part, despite the fact that the latter parts capture equally or more important topics from both legal and psychological viewpoints. We end the chapter by explaining this uneven distribution of efforts and urging psychologists to take a broader approach to social influence and the law.

 
Ode to the Sea: Workplace Organizations And Norms Of Cooperation
Uri Gneezy, University of California, San Diego

The functioning and well-being of any society and organisation hinges on norms of cooperation that regulate social activities. There is no empirical evidence on how such norms emerge and in which environments they thrive remains a clear void in the literature. We compare behaviour in Brazilian fishermen societies that differ in the workplace organisation. In one society (by the sea), fishermen are forced to work in groups, whereas in the adjacent society (on a lake) fishing is inherently an individual activity. We report that the sea fishermen trust and cooperate more and have greater ability to coordinate group actions than their lake counterparts.

 
Shady characters: The implications of illicit organizational roles for resilient team performance
Celia Moore, Bocconi University

In this paper we theorize about illicit roles and explore their effects on resilient team performance. We define an illicit role as one whose occupants specialize in activity forbidden by the law, regulatory bodies, or professional societies, in the belief that doing so provides a competitive advantage. Using longitudinal data on professional hockey teams, we examine the enforcer - a player who specializes in the prohibited activity of fighting. We find that team performance is more disrupted by the injury of an enforcer than by the injury of occupants of other formal roles on the team. In addition, team performance recovers more slowly after this setback to the extent the team tries to replace an enforcer, and the performance disruptions associated with his exit are magnified as a function of his experience with his team. We use these findings to develop new theory about organizational roles that operate outside official channels and formal structures. We suggest that such role occupants are more difficult to replace than their formal counterparts, in part because to enact these roles effectively requires experience in the local social context.

 
Punctuated incongruity: A new approach to managing tradeoffs between conformity and deviation
Shefali Patil, University of Texas at Austin

Micro and macro scholars alike have long warned about ‘‘incongruent’’ work environments that sow confusion by sending inconsistent normative signals to employees. We argue that these warnings rest on the debatable assumption that employees do not have cognitive bandwidth and emotional resilience to do more than single-mindedly pursue internally consistent goals. Challenging this assumption, we argue that employees in today’s complex knowledge economies often face tasks that require balancing opposing risks such as those of conforming too closely to standard practices against those of deviating too far. Given this reality, we explain how congruity can sometimes be maladaptive and incongruity, adaptive. Congruent combinations of process accountability and collectivism can trigger excessive conformity and congruent combinations of outcome accountability and individualism can induce excessive deviation. But incongruent combinations can motivate employees to rethink tacit assumptions and explore better ways of reaping the benefits of conformity (deviation) at a lower cost of the other value. That said, managing tradeoffs can be exhausting—and congruity affords needed guidance. Organizations should therefore introduce incongruity in carefully calibrated quasi-experimental doses. The likelihood of successful implementation of this advice hinges on managers’ ideological resistance to incongruity as well as their ability to mobilize employee ‘‘buy in.’’ Our chapter highlights the dialectical interplay between incongruity which encourages mindfulness and congruity which provides a respite from the burdens of choice.