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Dr. Liat Eldor

THE WHARTON SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA

OVERVIEW

I study how modern features of employee-organization relationship can create competitive advantage for organizations and affect their bottom-line, business results. In particular, I am interested in exploring effects at the unit/firm level of analysis, and how OB/HR phenomena at the collective level affect business results.

In my research, I integrate OB theories with HR-related topics to provide a comprehensive research view of contemporary organizational phenomena and to address challenges organizations face nowadays in their constant race to create competitive advantage. I employ a wide array of methodological- qualitative and quantitative- methods (e.g., interviews, text analysis, multi-level hierarchical and FX models) in panel-data, longitudinal, and experimental filed studies. The contexts range from leading retail chains to global high-tech companies (e.g., TATA, a multinational conglomerate company headquartered in India) and public service agencies. The themes that guide my work include employee-organization relationship, work engagement, new arrangements of work, socialization, and leadership.

My research work has been published in top-tier journals such as Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Management Studies, Harvard Business Review, and Journal of Organizational Behavior as well as several ongoing papers that under revision and submission processes in Academy of Management Review, Journal of Applied Psychology, and Administrative Science Quarterly. Prior to entering academia, I have held various HR leading roles in the high-tech industry.

In my recent study “Agent Temps Hurt Business Performance,” forthcoming in Academy of Management Journal, I integrate social identity theory with the topic of non-standard work arrangements to examine the now common blended workplace, where standard employees work side by side with temporary agency workers. In contrast to the common assertion that the use of an agency workforce benefits organizations by allowing them to respond faster to changing market conditions, we find greater use of agency temps actually hurts business performance. The explanation for this relationship is that agency workers have a negative effect on the identification that regular employees have with their workplace (using social identity theory and status-based argument) which, in turn, reduces their performance and that of the stores where they work. Applying insights from the diversity literature about blurring boundaries between racial groups, I also introduce two workplace-level buffering strategies, one business-oriented (shared instrumental values), and the other social (integration practices) that moderate the detrimental effects of a blended workplace on the identification of standard employees and business performance.

In my “Leading by Doing” study, also forthcoming in Academy of Management Journal, I explore whether leading by doing, where supervisors actually manifest the desired behaviors rather than simply telling subordinates what to do, is more effective in cultivating firm-level engagement, productivity, and service quality. While the idea of leading by example is commonly advocated, perhaps surprisingly, there have been no empirical studies testing it nor any efforts to establish it as an academic construct. This study is also novel in that, while most research on the effects of leadership has focused on the employee level, my study looks at organization-level outcomes. In this solo-authored paper, I argue and demonstrate that leading by example is distinct from other verbally-oriented leadership approaches such as charismatic leadership- where the leader articulates the desired expectations but does not illustrate them in a practical way. Using two-time-point panel data derived from different sources, the findings provide evidence that leading by example improves productivity and service quality after taking into account the potential influence of charismatic leadership.

Currently, I am working with colleagues at Wharton to compare the common situation where vacancies are filled from within the organization by lateral moves versus when they are filled by bringing in an outsider. In contrast to what appeared to be the growing consensus, we find that external hiring is actually more effective measured by business results in these supervisory roles.

In another collaborative research project at Wharton, I am exploring the combined signaling effects of the prior professional and leadership experience of managers and founders in start-up companies on investors’ decision making and the likelihood of a successful fund raising.

Lastly, I am engaged in several experimental field research projects, which aim at rethinking the processes of HR practices of socialization, talent management, and leadership development as a result of the COVID-19. The focus is on how HR practices can be efficiently delivered and effectively implemented in this new context.

Liat Eldor

REFEREED PUBLICATIONS

Eldor, L. (accepted, 2020). Leading by doing: Does leading by example impact productivity and service quality? Academy of Management Journal, Forthcoming.2020-08-27T20:14:24+00:00

Abstract

This paper presents a research model for the creation of organizational value through leading by example. I argue that leading by example serves as a unique value-creation driver by enhancing engagement, productivity, and service quality at the business level. Using a strategy-based resource management framework, I also argue that there are synergies between leading by example and the manifestation of organizational core values. My theory is grounded in the strategy-based notion that combining organizational resources—leading by example (practical element) and organizational core values (conceptual element)—optimizes employee engagement, which in turn enhances productivity and service quality. I examine my model empirically using two-time-point panel data derived from three different sources (employees, financial data, and secret shoppers) in a sample of 233 retail stores. The findings provide evidence that leading by example improves productivity and service quality (after taking into account the potential influence of charismatic leadership). The indirect effect of leading by example on productivity and service quality (through engagement) is even stronger where manifestation of organizational core values is high. Contributions to theory, research, and practice are presented.

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Eldor, L., & Cappelli, P. (accepted, 2020). Agency temps hurts business performance: An integrated indirect model. Academy of Management Journal, Forthcoming.2020-08-27T20:14:38+00:00

Abstract

The use of agency temps in the workplace has been the subject of considerable research interest, much of it focused on the effects that using temps have on the job attitudes of regular employees. We advance this stream of research by examining the effects of using agency temps on business performance. We find first that when otherwise identical workplaces make greater use of temporary help provided by agencies, the identification of the employee or “regular” workforce with their workplace declines because the perceived status of the workplace declines. This, in turn, leads to lower store-level service quality and sales. This effect is independent of the notion suggested in earlier studies that temp workers threaten the job security and opportunities for advancement of regular employees. Finally, we find that these negative effects can be mitigated by workplace-level strategies associated with shared instrumental values and social integration practices. We examine these relationships using a range of employee and store-level data sources over time from a retail chain.

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Eldor, L. (2020). How collective engagement creates competitive advantage for organizations: A Business‐Level model of shared vision, competitive intensity, and service performance. Journal of Management Studies, 57(2), 177-209.2020-08-27T20:14:50+00:00

Abstract

We argue that collective engagement can serve as a unique value‐creation capacity at the business level by linking shared vision and service performance. We also propose that competitive intensity will be a market indicator by which management can enhance the effect of shared vision on collective engagement, and indirectly strengthen service performance (through collective engagement). Furthermore, we argue that this distinctive value‐creation capability, embedded in collective engagement, generates competitive advantage; specifically, one that competing organizations will struggle to replicate. We examine our moderated‐mediation model by using a three‐time‐point method derived from five different sources in 198 retail‐service branches. Our findings indicate that collective engagement, fueled by shared organizational vision, improves service performance. Furthermore, as this conditional indirect effect of shared vision on service quality and customer satisfaction was solely generated through collective engagement rather than other mechanisms (i.e., commitment and involvement), it creates a competitive advantage for engagement‐oriented organizations.

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Eldor, L., Westring, A. F., & Friedman, S. D. (2020). The indirect effect of holistic career values on work engagement: A longitudinal study spanning two decades. Applied Psychology: Health and Well‐Being, 12(1), 144-165.2020-08-27T20:15:01+00:00

Abstract
Background
In contrast to earlier assumptions that the “ideal worker” should embrace traditional notions of career success, there is growing recognition that possessing holistic career values may be beneficial in the work domain as well. However, there is little empirical evidence to support this argument. We hypothesised that individuals who at the time of their university graduation possessed holistic career values would display stronger personal life satisfaction 20 years later, which in turn would enhance their work engagement (i.e. an individual’s perceptions of the extent to which the work environment possesses engaging characteristics).

Methods
Data from a longitudinal study of 158 university students who completed two questionnaires, one in 1992 and the other 20 years later, supported our hypotheses.

Results
We found that individuals who possessed holistic career values displayed stronger personal life satisfaction 20 years later, which in turn enhanced their work engagement. We further found that this indirect effect of holistic career values on work engagement (through personal life satisfaction) is conditionally moderated by work–family interference.

Conclusions
Cultivating a holistic career perspective among employees is beneficial for both employee well‐being (i.e. personal life satisfaction) and the flourishing of their organisations (i.e. work engagement).

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Cappelli, P. & Eldor, L. (2019). Where Measuring Engagement goes wrong. Harvard Business Review, July 2019.2020-08-27T20:57:50+00:00

Abstract

Surveys to assess how engaged workers are in their jobs are highly popular among employers, who hope the results will help them improve employee productivity and creativity and reduce turnover. But consultants and academics have long differed in their conclusions about how much can be inferred from the results of these surveys. Based on our own work as academics we caution business leaders implementing such a survey: it may not tell you anything about your employees that you can do much about.

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Eldor, L. (2018). Public service sector: The compassionate workplace – the effect of compassion and stress on employee engagement, burnout, and performance. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 28(1), 86-103. Best Doctoral Student Research Conference Paper Award (2017) of the Academy of Management – Public and Nonprofit Division (AOM-PNP), Annual Meeting 2017, Atlanta, Georgia.2020-08-27T19:52:06+00:00

Abstract

This study seeks to investigate the effect of compassion in the public service workplace. Our compassion model is based on public service sector employees who receive compassionate feelings such as affection, generosity, caring, and tenderness from their supervisors. A longitudinal study of 166 public service employees, their supervisors and 333 of their clients (citizens) was conducted in Israel. In this longitudinal study, we found evidence that receipt of compassion from supervisors (at time 1) in the public service workplace was positively associated with employees’ sense of work engagement, and negatively related to their work burnout (at time 2). Furthermore, receipt of compassion (at time 1) was also found to impact public service employees’ organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) and knowledge sharing (at time 2) as rated by their supervisors, as well as their service-oriented performance of compassionate behavior toward clients (at time 2), rated by the citizens. Finally, we found evidence for compassion acting as a mechanism for coping with common stressful public service conditions such as demanding citizens and administrative workload, which are inherent in this sector. Compassion in the public service workplace may therefore be salient in effecting public service work performance, and as such should be consciously targeted by public sector managers and policy makers.

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Eldor, L., Fried, Y., Westman, M., Levi, A. S., Shipp, A. J., & Slowik, L. H. (2018). The experience of work stress and the context of time: Analyzing the role of subjective time. Organizational Psychology Review, 7(3), 227-249.2020-08-27T20:16:18+00:00

Abstract

Scholars have generally neglected the importance of the subjective aspects of time in the field of work stress. In this paper we analyze the joint effects of employee perceptions of subjective time and cultural, organizational, individual, and situational factors on employee experiences of stress. By explicitly considering the role of subjective time in stress research, we develop several propositions and discuss recommendations for future research. We discuss implications for organizational practice in reducing stress, revolving around the manipulation and experience of time.

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Eldor, L. (2017). Looking on the bright side: The positive role of organizational politics in the relationship between employee engagement and performance at work. Applied Psychology, 66(2), 233-2592020-08-27T20:16:26+00:00

Abstract

Scholars have largely focused on the negative consequences of organisational politics for employees’ performance. In contrast, we maintain that organisational politics has positive aspects and moderates the relationship between employee engagement and behaviors at work such as knowledge sharing, creativity, proactivity, and adaptivity. Using data from 253 high‐tech employees and their supervisors in Israel, our findings demonstrate that perceptions of organisational politics strengthen the relationship between employee engagement and these behaviors. When engaged employees perceive their workplace to be political, they are more proactive, creative, and adaptive, and more likely to share their knowledge with their peers. These findings confirm the challenge/opportunity stressor theory regarding perceptions of organisational politics and suggest that whether politics is viewed as positive or negative depends on the employees’ point of view. For those who are engaged and more actively involved in their jobs, politics can be regarded as a challenge and even an opportunity for obtaining more resources to improve their performance. Implications for the development of theory and practice in this area are discussed.

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Eldor, L., & Harpaz, I. (2016). A process model of employee engagement: The learning climate and its relationship with extra-role performance behaviors. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 37(2), 213-235.2020-08-27T20:16:34+00:00

Abstract

Employee engagement has recently been introduced as a concept advantageous to organizations. However, little is known about the value of employee engagement in explaining work performance behaviors compared with similar concepts. The learning climate, defined as the organization’s beneficial activities in helping employees create, acquire, and transfer knowledge, has also been proposed as an antecedent of employee engagement. Using data from a sample of 625 employees and their supervisors in various occupations and organizations throughout Israel, we investigated employee engagement as a key mechanism for explaining the relationship between perceptions of the organization’s learning climate and employees’ proactivity, knowledge sharing, creativity, and adaptivity. We also tested whether employee engagement explained the relationship more thoroughly than similar concepts such as job satisfaction and job involvement. Multilevel regression analyses supported our hypotheses that employee engagement mediates the relationship between the perceived learning climate and these extra‐role behaviors. Moreover, engagement provides a more thorough explanation than job satisfaction or job involvement for these relationships. The implications for organizational theory, research, and practice are discussed. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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Eldor, L., & Vigoda-Gadot, E. (2015). The nature of employee engagement: Rethinking the employee–organization relationship. International Journal of Human Resource Management,28(3), 526-552.2020-08-27T20:16:42+00:00

Abstract

Research interest in the new concept of employee engagement has grown dramatically in recent years. Employee engagement represents a work-related state of mind characterized by feelings of vigor, fulfillment, enthusiasm, absorption and dedication. However, scholars are still ambivalent about its theoretical contribution to explaining the employee–organization relationship. The goal of the study is to strengthen the theoretical foundation of the employee engagement concept in light of this relationship. We first compared employee engagement to other close concepts such as psychological empowerment and psychological contract. We then examined its contribution to the explanation of work centrality over and above psychological empowerment and psychological contract. Our study is based on an interactive sample of 593 employees from both private and public organizations in Israel. Our findings demonstrate that employee engagement is distinct from psychological empowerment and psychological contract and has an incremental value for work centrality over and above psychological empowerment and psychological contract. Implications of our findings are discussed the light of the employee–organization relationship.

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Vigoda-Gadot, E., Eldor, L., & Schohat, L. M. (2013). Engage them to public service: Conceptualization and empirical examination of employee engagement in public administration. The American Review of Public Administration, 43(5), 518-538. PNP Best Article Honorable Mention from Best Article Award Committee (2014) of the Public and Nonprofit Division of the Academy of Management (AOM-PNP), Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.2020-08-27T20:16:51+00:00

Abstract

This article deals with the emerging concept of Employee Engagement (EE) and its meaning for public administration research and theory. Generically, EE reflects a positive, fulfilling, affective-motivational, work-related state of mind characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption. In an attempt to understand whether the concept of EE is meaningful for public administration research and theory, we examine its essence and foundation using a comparative method. First, we compare EE with two well-established employee–organization relationship (EOR) concepts: Affective Commitment (AC) and Job Involvement (JI). Second, we compare EE in public versus private sector employees, and finally, we compare the concept in employees and managers in the public sector. Our study is based on an interactive sample of 593 employees and managers from both the private and public sectors in Israel. The results support several hypotheses. First, EE is an empirically distinct construct compared with other EOR concepts. Second, EE is higher among public sector employees than private sector employees. Third, EE is higher among public managers than public employees. Implications of our findings and recommendations for future theoretical and empirical studies of EE are discussed.

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Book Chapters

  • Cappelli. P., & Eldor, L. (forthcoming, 2021). Contracting, engagement, and the “gig” economy. In J. Meyer & B. Schneider (Eds.), Research agenda for employee engagement in the changing world of work, forthcoming.

  • Eldor, L. (2016). The Positive Role of Organizational Politics. In Vigoda-Gadot, E., & Drory, A. (Eds.). Handbook of Organizational Politics: Looking Back and to the Future (pp. 217-243). Cheltenham, UK; Edward Elgar.

Awards

  • Best Doctoral Student Research Conference Paper Award of the Academy of Management.
    From the Public and Nonprofit Division (AOM-PNP), Annual Meeting 2017, Atlanta, Georgia.

  • Israel Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2015, $51,000.

  • Scholarship for post-doctorate studies in Europe under Email II Erasmus Mundus Program.
    From the European Commission at the Catholic University of Leuven, Department of Psychology, 2015, Belgium, EURO 22,000.

  • Scholarship for Post-Doctorate Studies in Europe under EDEN Erasmus Mundus Education Network Program.
    From the European Commission, 2015, EURO 12,800.

  • PNP Best Article Honorable Mention
    From the Best Article Award Committee of the Public and Nonprofit Division of the Academy of Management (AOM-PNP), 2014’s Annual Meeting.

  • Vigoda-Gadot, E., Eldor, L., & Isaak, V. Research Grant.
    From the Israel National Institute for Health Policy and Health Services: The Effect of Ethical climate and Employee Engagement on Quality of treatment and Service in Healthcare Organizations, 2015, NIS 200,000.

  • Excellence Scholarship.
    From the Rector of University of Haifa and Graduate Studies Authority, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

  • The Shirom Award for Doctoral Proposal and Special excellence.
    From the Recanati Foundation Dissertation Grant Award, 2013, Tel Aviv University, NIS 18,000.

  • Winner of the 2013 Israeli Industrial Relations Research Association Award.
    For the Best Master Organizational Psychology Thesis, NIS 3,000.

  • Paper Publication Award for Peer-Reviewed Publishing during Ph.D studies.
    From the Graduate Studies Authority, 2013, University of Haifa, NIS 3,000.

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