My Research Focus
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My Research Focus
Frankie J. Weinberg, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Management &
Dean Henry J. Engler, Jr. Distinguished Professor
Loyola University New Orleans College of Business
I focus on investigating deep-level psychological mechanisms that improve the outcomes of interpersonal relationships at work. As illustrated in the figure below, my research centers on how intra-individual perceptions and processes inform models of leadership, interpersonal connections with others, and career trajectory. This research stream provides insights to guide effective management practice by providing conceptual and empirical evidence that serves to improve the effectiveness of individuals working in groups and dyadic relationships, and has led to publications in a number of well-respected outlets, including The Journal of Management, Communication Research, and The Leadership Quarterly.
Figure 1: Research Agenda
My research agenda revolves around the intersection of intra-individual perceptions
and processes, interpersonal connections, leadership, and careers.
My research foundations
As with most academics in the early stages of their careers, my initial research was heavily influenced by the focal areas to which my advisors have largely contributed – mentoring and other forms of leadership, social networks, and personal epistemologies. The research projects that I developed along these lines explored important questions regarding how homogeneity, diversity, and time spent together influence the effectiveness of team and dyadic relationships, and the ways in which different approaches to learning and knowledge may affect these relationships. Early examples of this research include two longitudinal investigations of the complexities involved in team and mentoring relationships (Balkundi, Harrison, & Weinberg, 200915*; Weinberg & Lankau, 20111). These studies respectively provide initial evidence of the mediating influence of social networks and transactive memory on team performance, and of the important influence that psychosocial support and time together have on mentoring satisfaction and effectiveness. My more recent work that was inspired by these foundations includes the introduction of models for understanding why individuals may be motivated to engage in knowledge-sharing behaviors in teams and mentoring relationships (Weinberg, 20155; Weinberg, Mulki, & Lankau, 20154).
Building on my research foundations
My current research continues to examine elements of diversity and connections between organizational members. I remain fascinated by the processes through which we make decisions, and how these decisions both influence and are influenced by various elements of our work and our interactions with others. Thus, as my research matures, I have begun to tackle these questions more systematically through the conceptualization and evaluation of models designed to capture the intersection of perceptions, biases, and context on workplace interactions.
While some of my recent work focuses on direct path relationships that perceptions and context have on behavioral and career outcomes (e.g., Weinberg, Mulki, & Locander, 20148; Locander, Mulki, & Weinberg, 20146; Trevino, Ralston, Weinberg, Crowley-Henry, et al., working document14), the majority of my research focuses on the convergence of these themes to arrive at compelling discussions of social construction and decision processes. For instance, I recently introduced and tested a model that explores how lone wolf tendencies among workers appear to be, at least in part, socially-created, resulting from of a lack of social learning experiences and interpersonal connections at work (Locander, Weinberg, Mulki, & Locander, 20157). Further, the intersection of leadership and interpersonal connections are exemplified in my ongoing conceptual work with Felipe Massa (working document12) that focuses on metaphor use as an effective means of leadership communication and in my recent publication in Leadership Quarterly (Weinberg & Locander, 20143) which develops a model through which mentors may engage in spiritual leadership by supporting a protégé’s inner-life needs and providing a meaningful work experience and a context of connectedness. Both of these models tackle the dyadic complexities involved in communicating to individuals whose approaches to and understanding of workplace phenomena may vastly differ from those of the leader.
Finally, motivated to provide scientific validity to the recent discussions regarding desirable communication among men and women at work, and excited to extend the discussion of how deep- and surface-level diversity interact to predict important workplace outcomes, I have introduced the concept of gendered communication style to empirical organizational analysis. Despite its popularity in both the feminist communication literature and in the media, this concept had not yet been tested in organizational settings. To engage this project in a manner that facilitated both strong conceptual design and practical significance, I pulled together a unique team consisting of a women’s studies scholar and a strategic management scholar as collaborators. In our study, recently accepted for publication in Communication Research, we developed a measurement instrument and initial findings whereby, after controlling for the subjects’ sex, we were able to determine that masculine and feminine communication styles have differential effects on hierarchical and non-hierarchical career success outcomes (Weinberg, Treviño, & Cleveland, forthcoming2). This study unlocked opportunities to better understand expectations for and benefits of gendered communication, and I am presently undertaking two further investigations in this area.
Current work and implications
My research direction now delves into new frontiers that consider the dynamics between individuals, their colleagues, and their work contexts. For example, I have teamed up with researchers at the University at Buffalo on a series of studies that investigate the role that social networks play on career trajectory and leadership emergence (e.g., Chiu, Balkundi, & Weinberg, working document10; Ghahremani, Weinberg, & Balkundi, working document16) and with a colleague at Wake Forest University on a longitudinal, matched-pairs analysis that examines shared perceptions between coaches and their clients, and how differences in these perceptions affect skill development and job performance (Lankau & Weinberg, working document11). From a practical standpoint, the results from these studies highlight some factors regarding how intra-individual perceptions influence interpersonal connections, and reveal potential guidelines for designing effective dyadic and team partnerships.
With regard to my current work with the gendered communication construct, I have teamed up with a colleague at Tulane University to explore the interactions of an employee’s sex, gendered communication, and the sex composition of their workplace to reveal further insight into how ‘who the communicator is’ and ‘who the audience is’ affect how masculine and feminine communication impact career success (Weinberg, Smith, & Treviño, working document9). Another study brings together a team of scholars from over 30 countries to investigate the effects that societal differences have on gendered communication and workplace outcomes (Weinberg, Treviño, Ralston, Crowley-Henry, et al., working document13). A major consequence from these studies is that we will gain a better understanding of the generalizability of gendered communication, its effects across various cultures and occupations, and under which circumstances communicating in either masculine, feminine, or androgynous manners may demonstrate particular benefits and predict positive outcomes. A further avenue where gendered communication research would be beneficial includes examining communication by top executives and its relationship with company performance, a task for which I am currently preparing by learning best practices with regard to qualitative research design. Looking forward, I see a great deal of potential for this research stream to inform our understanding of how and why some people advance, and the way in which we evaluate the emergence and success of men and women as leaders of their respective organizations.
New avenues emerging from and expanding on my past and present work
My vision for the future is to be valued worldwide for my expertise in developing and advancing organizational knowledge and practice.
My commitment to this vision motivates me to become a world leader in connecting people and ideas from diverse theoretical frameworks in the interest of advancing critical organizational perspectives. One reason why my research has been well-received across broad audiences is owing to the pioneering, interdisciplinary approach that I take to my academic inquiry. Moving forward, I intend to continue to forge further collaborations with scholars from disciplines outside my areas of expertise. Such partnerships will enable us to capitalize on the theoretical and practical research achievements of a broad spectrum of behavioral research and create added value that advances the development of organization theory. In addition to the benefit that these interdisciplinary perspectives bring to my research and to my classroom discussions, they have also opened doors for me to work with a broad range of research-oriented students. Although my current university does not offer a Ph.D. program, I have been mentoring and working regularly with a number of doctoral students at other institutions as well as a select group of Loyola’s top scholars, and I have appreciated the opportunities to engage fresh perspectives while providing vocational and psychosocial support to these budding researchers. I look forward to continuing these initiatives and building further opportunities for collaborative student work in the future. It is my hope that my forthcoming work in the areas of leadership, gendered communication, and social networks will pave the way for collaboration with a broad spectrum of both novice and seasoned colleagues.
* superscript numbering refers to the associated manuscript number in Figure 2, which appears in the full .pdf version of my research statement, available here: Research Focus of Frankie J. Weinberg, Ph.D.