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Current Projects

The Dynamics of Organisational Culture: Evidence from Seeding Altruism in Banking

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, firms, especially banks, have spent large sums to fund initiatives with the intended aim to shape culture yet whether these initiatives have driven real changes in attitudes is still an open question. In 2018 a partner of ours, a multinational bank with over 250,000 employees across c. 70 countries, launched a new volunteering program where employees can sign-up for and propose new opportunities to volunteer. We worked with our partner, sharing administrative data and devising a randomization strategy which randomly varied treatment intensity across offices and then, within each office, assigning teams to either treatment or control. Treatment teams received an email informing them of the new volunteering platform. The combination of our randomization strategy and our 18-month study span allows us to study the joint evolution of prosocial behavior, values, beliefs and work performance. From this experiment, we hope to bring at least two key projects, which bring together network theory and adoption of altruistic behavior and changes in culture, to the academic and practitioner frontier.

Purpose and Productivity

Our multinational consumer goods partner has made significant public commitments to achieving purpose-led performance. One element of this commitment is its international rollout of purpose workshops, all-day sessions aimed at inducing white collar workers to reflect on their own sense of purpose which individuals are then encouraged to use as a heuristic for decision-making both at and outside of work. Owing to the company wanting to evaluate the business case of purpose and the Lab’s interest in the economic effects of this behavioral reorientation, we found natural alignment between our practitioner and research questions. Working with our partner’s Strategy and Leadership team, we have convinced country HR directors across 14 countries, for over 3000 employees, to randomize the rollout of the workshops. In evaluating its effects, we will bring together bespoke survey data, administrative HR data and individual and team level productivity data, collected through bilateral liaisons with country level personnel.  

Automation, Unemployment and Re-envisioning the Nature of Work

This project aims to harness the disruption, associated with automation, that blue collar workers face as a potential opportunity to reskill and retrain – but, crucially, to have this retraining decision guided by the chance to achieve social impact within the community. In the face of significant anxiety about the future, workers’ mindsets can become closed to retraining opportunities. But by proposing an intervention, embedded within a multinational consumer goods company, that fosters a “Purposeful change” towards a career which is grounded in opportunities to make a community contribution, we hope to enable a shift in mindset. We are currently in the middle of designing an intervention within a factory in Leeds (UK) – working closely with blue collar workers to create a combination of reflective workshops and active experimentation (through community volunteering). Through this project we hope to provide a scalable private sector solution which can help vulnerable stocks of talent shift into forms of work which are both in demand locally and not susceptible to the threats of automation.

Unlocking the Gains from Diversity: Managerial Skill in Diverse Teams

Over the past 250 years, innovation has been at the center of long run economic growth. Indeed, basic principles of growth dynamics demonstrate that to continually expand the growth of prosocial activity requires more than just more talent doing good but also new, more efficient ways of doing good. This logic motivates a separate workstream of ours, on innovation. Building off our existing body of work, establishing that a diverse team is not necessarily always conducive to greater productivity and innovation, we leverage our long-standing data sharing agreement with our multinational consumer goods partner, to embed a field experiment with a messaging intervention targeted at managers that communicates the potential gains to diversity.  We hope to bring together data on creativity, from functions such as Marketing, and innovation, from functions such as R&D, to investigate how specific managerial skills can unlock team frictions driven by diversity and heterogeneity.

Projects in Progress: Brands with Purpose

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