Fall 2017 Courses

Leadership Development
2nd Year MBA OB Core Course

This course builds upon the material from the 1st Year OB Core (OB 5620, Foundations for Leadership Effectiveness) and, importantly, from your time so far at Olin and during your summer work experiences. The focus of the course is on the attributes, behaviors, and tendencies of effective leadership. There are two primary objectives:

  • Gain new insights into your own beliefs and expectations regarding what constitutes effective leadership in groups, teams, and organizations. You will accomplish this through a mixture of classroom discussion, case analysis, and self assessment.
  • Learn about your own strengths and weaknesses in leading others. You will accomplish this in the classroom through controlled experiential exercises, which will be the basis for feedback from your peers. You will also reflect on your strengths and weaknesses as revealed in critical incidents from your summer work experiences.

Foundations for Effective Leadership / Organizational Behavior
1st Year MBA and PMBA OB Core Course

This course presents a framework for thinking about how individual attributes and interpersonal skills serve as a foundation for effective leadership in small groups and teams. Through experiential exercises and classroom discussions, this course will enable you to gain deeper insights into your current strengths as a leader and to identify developmental opportunities for the future. There are two primary objectives:

  • Deepen your self-awareness by enhancing your insights into (1) your personal characteristics and attributes; (2) your interpersonal, social, and leadership skills; and, (3) your approach in working within groups and teams.
  • Improve your leadership effectiveness by enhancing your capacity to (1) identify your own leadership strengths and weaknesses and (2) understand how your assets and liabilities combine with others’ assets and liabilities in team-based work.

Identity Literacy: An Introduction to Cultural Competence in a Diverse World
University 1st Year Undergraduate Course

This course provides students the opportunity to explore how identities form, intersect, and are negotiated within some of our nation’s most visible and controversial contemporary moments. In grappling with how identities are constructed and contested, you will be exposed to the processes of reflection, vocabulary, and concepts that will prepare you to engage with a variety of identity groups. You will also be introduced to the ways in which political, economic, and institutional structures interact with identity.

This course assumes that no matter what particular ideologies and attitudes you embody, you will encounter people whose identity differs from your own, and will need the knowledge and skills that are essential to having responsible, informed, and successful interactions. In fact, each course participant is likely to have multiple dominant and non-dominant identities that intersect: a student may be Native American but also part of the Christian majority, while another student may be from abroad but nonetheless have male privilege in the U.S. The course consequently is not intended to promote any particular identity as more deserving of understanding, but instead presents several of them as opportunities for you to develop a general framework for understanding difference, while reflecting on your own identity and acquiring the skills necessary for successful interaction in diverse social and professional settings.

In every profession, cognizance of the difference identity can make in how people interact with the world (and how the world interacts with people) is essential to being a good citizen, but also an effective member of a team, leader, or knowledgeable practitioner in one’s chosen field. What difference does understanding gender identity and expression make in the questions you ask as a doctor, or presumptions people make in everyday conversation? How important is it to know the difference class and race has made in the development of the cities we inhabit, and the choices we make about how we interact with the city? How can learning how to have dialogues (as opposed to debates) about complex social issues help us become better listeners, citizens, and professionals in whatever spaces we inhabit?

Finally, enrollment in this course is based on residential floors because “living the curriculum” enriches learning, and allows you to apply what you’ve learned to the relationships you build with your peers. Gaining knowledge about varied identities together we hope will enhance the mutual respect you have for each other, build an inclusive environment, and enhance your student experience at Washington University.

Organizational affective tone

Knight, A. P., Menges, J. I., & Bruch. H. (2018). Organizational affective tone: A meso perspective on the origins and effects of consistent affect in organizations. Academy of Management Journal, 61, 191-219.

Abstract. Grounded in an open systems perspective, we build and test new theory about how the kinds of industries in which an organization participates influences organizational affective tone and connects to workforce strain. We propose that the more an organization’s activities lie in consumer-centric industries (e.g., service, retail), the more positive and less negative the organization’s affective tone. We connect consumer-centric industry participation and affective tone by explaining how personnel policies and organizational structure generate and sustain consistent positive and negative affect throughout an organization. Additionally, we examine the effects of organizational affective tone on workforce strain. The results of a survey-based study of 24,015 human resource managers, top management team members, and employees of 161 firms largely support our predictions. We discuss the implications of considering macro contextual factors for understanding affect in organizations.

Resources and relationships in entrepreneurship

Huang, L., & Knight, A. P. (2017). Resources and relationships in entrepreneurship: An exchange theory of the development and effects of the entrepreneur-investor relationship. Academy of Management Review, 42, 80-102.

Abstract. We develop a theoretical model, grounded in exchange theory, about the process through which relationships between entrepreneurs and investors develop and influence the growth of new ventures. Our theory highlights the multifaceted relationships that entrepreneurs and investors share—comprising both affective and instrumental dimensions—and the bidirectional exchanges of social and financial resources that build these relationships over time. An exchange theory perspective sheds light on the emergence of different patterns of relationship development over time and how different kinds of resource exchange contribute to new venture growth, contingent on the core problems that a venture faces at a given stage of development. We discuss implications of an exchange perspective on resources and relationships in entrepreneurship for theory, research, and practice.

Using AppleScript to mail merge with attachments

Here is some code that is useful for sending batch emails with Mac Mail to recipients using information stored in a text file. This also enables attaching specific files to the message, again based on the information in the text file.

set mol_list to {}
-- This will ask you to select a file containing the intended recepients and their emails --
-- I also include in this file information needed to link to an attachment --
set theFile to choose file with prompt "Select a text file:"
set theFileReference to open for access theFile
-- Note that the line end here is an old Mac return (not MSFT carriage return) --
set theFileContents to read theFileReference using delimiter return
close access theFileReference

-- Now parse the file that was selected. Here I'm parsing a tab-delimited file. --
set text item delimiters to tab
-- Loop through the file one line at a time --
repeat with i from 1 to count of theFileContents
    set theLine to text items of item i of theFileContents
    copy theLine to the end of mol_list
    -- this identifies each column in the tab-delimited file --
    set stid to item 1 of theLine
    set first_name to item 2 of theLine
    set last_name to item 3 of theLine
    set email_add to item 4 of theLine
    -- specify the location of the file to attach --
    -- here I'm pasting together information from the tab-delimited file to point to the file for this particular recipient --
    set file_attach to "Macintosh HD:Users:USERID:file_" & stid & ".pdf"
    -- Set the message, again pasting together info from the recipient file --
    set message_content to "Dear " & first_name & ",
    This is my email to you containing your information.
    -- Now push this to Mac's mail software
    tell application "Mail"
        -- Create a new message with the message above and the subject --
        set theMessage to make new outgoing message with properties {visible:true, subject:"Set the subject here", content:message_content}
        -- Set the address for this recipient --
        tell theMessage
            make new to recipient at end of to recipients with properties {address:email_add}
        end tell
        -- Add the attachment to this recipient --
        tell content of theMessage
            make new attachment with properties {file name:file_attach as alias} at after last paragraph
        end tell
        -- Add a little delay to attach larger files to the email before sending --
        delay 2
        -- Send the message to this recipient --
        send theMessage
    end tell
end repeat

Using recurrence analysis to examine group dynamics

Knight, A. P., Kennedy, D. M., McComb, S. A. (2016). Using recurrence analysis to examine group dynamics. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 20, 223-241.

Abstract. This article provides an accessible introduction to recurrence analysis—an analytical approach that has great promise for helping researchers understand group dynamics. Recurrence analysis is a technique with roots in the systems dynamics literature that was developed to reveal the properties of complex, nonlinear systems. By tracking when a system visits similar states at multiple points in its life—and the form or pattern of these recurrences over time—recurrence analysis equips researchers with a set of new metrics for assessing the properties of group dynamics, such as recurrence rate (i.e., stability), determinism (i.e., predictability), and entropy (i.e., complexity). Recent work has shown the potential value of recurrence analysis across a number of different disciplines. To extend its use within the domain of group dynamics, the authors present a conceptual overview of the technique and give a step-by-step tutorial on how to use recurrence analysis to study groups. An exemplar application of recurrence analysis using dialogue-based data from 63 three-person student groups illustrates the use of recurrence analysis in examining how groups change their focus on different processes over time. This is followed by a discussion of variations of recurrence analysis and implications for research questions within the literature on groups. When group researchers track group processes or emergent states over time, and thus compile a time series dataset, recurrence analysis can be a useful technique for measuring the properties of groups as dynamic systems.

The impact of environment and occupation on the health and safety of active duty air force members

Erich, R., Eaton, M., Mayes, R., Pierce, L., Knight, A. P., Genovesi, P., Escobar, J., Mychalczuk, G., Selent, M. (2016). The impact of environment and occupation on the health and safety of active duty Air Force members: Database development and de-identification. Military Medicine, 181, 821-826.

Abstract. Preparing data for medical research can be challenging, detail oriented, and time consuming. Transcription errors, missing or nonsensical data, and records not applicable to the study population may hamper progress and, if unaddressed, can lead to erroneous conclusions. In addition, study data may be housed in multiple disparate databases and complex formats. Merging methods may be incomplete to obtain temporally synchronized data elements. We created a comprehensive database to explore the general hypothesis that environmental and occupational factors influence health outcomes and risk-taking behavior among active duty Air Force personnel. Several databases containing demographics, medical records, health survey responses, and safety incident reports were cleaned, validated, and linked to form a comprehensive, relational database. The final step involved removing and transforming personally identifiable information to form a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliant limited database. Initial data consisted of over 62.8 million records containing 221 variables. When completed, approximately 23.9 million clean and valid records with 214 variables remained. With a clean, robust database, future analysis aims to identify high-risk career fields for targeted interventions or uncover potential protective factors in low-risk career fields.

Spring 2017 Courses

Organizational Research Methods (PhD), January to May, 2017

This is an introductory PhD seminar on organizational research methods. In this course we will together critically examine the building blocks of rigorous research and publishing in the organizational sciences, across a range of research questions and specific research methods. We will do this through readings, class discussions, and exercises, as well as through writing and reviewing one another’s work.

Key Learning Objectives

  • Expose you to a range of methods commonly-used by organizational scholars, helping you to learn the language and foundations of dominant methodological approaches.
  • Improve your ability to critically consume organizational research from a variety of methodological approaches.
  • Provide you with different methodological tools that may be useful for your own research interests and questions.
  • Develop your ability to identify the strengths and weaknesses of research, as well as the tradeoffs that scholars make in the research and publication process.
  • Strengthen your ability to communicate your ideas, interests, and contributions through your writing.

Fall 2016 Courses

Foundations for Effective Leadership (MBA), August to September, 2016

The focus of this 1st year Core MBA course is you–your characteristics, your attributes, and your interpersonal skills. This course presents a framework for thinking about how individual attributes and and interpersonal skills provide leadership potential. Through experiential exercises and interactions with your colleagues, this course will enable you to gain deeper insights into your current strengths as a leader and developmental opportunities for the future.

Key Learning Objectives

  • Deepen your self awareness by enhancing your insight into (1) your personal characteristics and attributes; (2) your interpersonal, social, and leadership skills; and, (3) your approach in working in groups and teams.
  • Improve your leadership effectiveness by enhancing your capacity to (1) identify your own leadership strengths and weaknesses and (2) understand how your assets and liabilities combine with others’ in groups and teams.

The effects of group affect on social integration and task performance

Knight, A. P., & Eisenkraft, N. (2015). Positive is usually good, negative is not always bad: The effects of group affect on social integration and task performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100, 1214-1227.

Abstract. Grounded in a social functional perspective, this article examines the conditions under which group affect influences group functioning. Using meta-analysis, the authors leverage heterogeneity across 39 independent studies of 2,799 groups to understand how contextual factors—group affect source (exogenous or endogenous to the group) and group life span (one-shot or ongoing)—moderate the influence of shared feelings on social integration and task performance. As predicted, results indicate that group positive affect has consistent positive effects on social integration and task performance regardless of contextual idiosyncrasies. The effects of group negative affect, on the other hand, are context-dependent. Shared negative feelings promote social integration and task performance when stemming from an exogenous source or experienced in a 1-shot group, but undermine social integration and task performance when stemming from an endogenous source or experienced in an ongoing group. The authors discuss implications of their findings and highlight directions for future theory and research on group affect.

Group affect

Barsade, S. G., & Knight, A. P. (2015). Group affect. Annual Review of Organizational Behavior and Organizational Psychology, 2, 21-46.

Abstract. Over two decades of research has indicated that group affect is an important factor that shapes group processes and outcomes. We review and synthesize research on group affect, encompassing trait affect, moods, and emotions at a collective level in purposive teams. We begin by defining group affect and examining four major types of collective affective constructs: (a) convergence in group affect; (b) affective diversity, that is, divergence in group affect; (c) emotional culture; and (d) group affect as a dynamic process that changes over time. We describe the nomological network of group affect, examining both its group-level antecedents and group-level consequences. Antecedents include group leadership, group member attributes, and interactions between and relationships among group members. Consequences of group affect include attitudes about the group and group-level cooperation and conflict, creativity, decision making, and performance. We close by discussing current research knowns, research needs, and what lies on the conceptual and methodological frontiers of this domain.