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Want to Learn How Things Really Work at Your New Job? Talk to the People at the Bottom

Two people chat over coffee.
Mar 10 2021
Fellow, Research, Stanford, Students

What are typical work hours here?

Do teammates do things together outside work?

If I have an idea for changing something, what’s the best way to raise it?

Those are questions a new member of any organizational team might have.

How they get those questions answered has been a topic of interest to Dale T. Miller, Stanford Graduate School of Business professor of organizational behavior; Jennifer Dannals, who received her PhD from Stanford GSB in 2018 and is now an assistant professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth; and Emily Reit, a current Stanford GSB doctoral student.

Those are questions a new member of any organizational team might have.

“A common assumption is that people just copy the behavior of the highest-ranking leaders in a group, rather than paying attention to anyone else,” Dannals says. “That’s always rubbed me the wrong way, partly because I hadn’t done that as a PhD student within the academic hierarchy. I believed lower-ranked people matter more in our perceptions of social norms.”

“Clearly, leaders have many avenues of influence,” Miller says. “But in this case, we thought lower-ranking people might have an advantage.”

Study co-leads are, Jennifer Dannals, a 2014 Lieberman Fellow, and Em Reit, a 2020 Lieberman Fellow.

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