Seed funding projects

The following four projects have received seed funding in 2018:

Turning the Blind Eye– Dynamics of Leadership and Team Behavior in Ethical Decision Making

Main applicant:  Simon Tobias Karg

When do leaders decide to turn the blind eye to cheating from their own group? To date, two competing explanations exist, one focusing on virtuous leadership characteristics such as will power, moral identity, and a low risk-taking propensity. Others, however, posit that structural forces such as incentive structures or decision processes in an organization will override any leader’s good intentions. While both explanations are likely to be true to some degree, the dynamics of how these two factors play out are to date poorly understood.
The current research project aims to study these interactions between the macro influences of the environment, and the micro aspects of leadership as well as group behavior. Using a newly developed game, we will employ both computational agent-based modelling, and behavioral online and laboratory experiments to investigate how such dynamics play out theoretically and in real life. Developing a better understanding of what drives ethical decision making in these contexts will help us to identify best practices that minimize unethical behavior of teams and leaders in organizations of all kinds.


Bonuses: The Effect of Loss Aversion Manipulation on Employee Compensation

Main applicant: Panos Mitkidis

In the turmoil of literature for and against utilising monetary incentive schemes (bonuses) to motivate employees and increase organisational performance, an alternative employee compensation structure based on Loss Aversion is proposed. Designing an appropriate incentive structure is a fundamental part of modern organisations, as it is a cost effective method for managing the myriad factors related to increasing organisational performance. It is predicted that employing loss aversion with bonuses should result in an increased performance. Through combining this alternative incentive structure with the Yerkes-Dodson Law, a two-dimensional experimental design is constructed with prepayment and post-payment of bonuses of varying monetary magnitude. Within this study, a simple mechanical key-pressing test will be used to test the participant’s performance, across all four conditions. This task requires the participants to press the V and N keys on a keyboard for a duration of four minutes, and rewards the participants based on their performance and ascribed conditions.


How do social norms influence whistleblowing behavior?

Main Applicant: Dimitrios Batolas

Incidents of organizational wrongdoing have featured heavily in headlines in recent years. High-profile revelations pertain to fraud (Enron), bribery (Walmart), deception (Wells Fargo) have raised concerns about the emergence of unethical behavior in public and private organizations. Such scandals came in the spotlight because of individuals who decided to blow the whistle. Understanding how individuals go from loyal employees to whistleblowers may enable managers to create a culture that encourages the reporting of misconduct. Handling the whistleblowing internally allows the organizations to fix the problem before it goes public and likely harm them. Hence, an organizational structure (macro) that encourages individual’s reporting behavior (micro) may prove beneficial for an organization.
This research aims to examine the willingness to blow the whistle when individuals are confronted with a moral dilemma involving a conflict between competing social norms such as fairness and organizational loyalty. In our experiments, participants read hypothetical scenarios (vignettes) describing an organizational wrongdoing. Characteristics of these wrongdoings, vary in order to determine the effect of wrongdoing on participants’ decision to report it. Vignettes contain three experimental manipulations: severity (high vs low), reporting channel (internal vs external), and social norms (fairness vs organizational loyalty). Our findings may have implications for encouraging the reporting of organizational wrongdoings as it can foster voluntary cooperation with internal disclosure channels by implementing whistleblowing schemes.


Livestock breeding in the Maasai Mara: A Tragedy of the Commons

Main applicant: Erik Larsen

For grass areas to sustain, there has to be a balance between grassing and growth of grass. The Maasai Mara area is threatened by exploitation since the grass areas constitute a commons in the sense that they can be used by everyone and there is no management of them as such. As a result, the areas are overexploited. Here, we aim to develop a micro-macro approach, where thorough a field study, a lab study, and a simulation model, we will understand the problem and develop solutions for solving the tragedy of the commons.