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Washington University in St Louis Olin Business School

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Timothy Gubler, PhD, Strategy

Research Interests:
My research is focused on the interplay between organizations and individuals in determining organizational performance. My research interests fall broadly in the following areas: Organizational strategy, micro-foundations of strategy, strategic human capital, incentives in organizations, organizational design, theories of the firm, and entrepreneurship.

Job Market Paper Title: “The Impact of Social Structure on Employees and Firms: Evidence from the Utah Real Estate Industry”

Abstract: Social structure is argued by many to reduce hazards from incomplete and asymmetric information in market transactions. This paper investigates the impact of formal social institutions on real estate agent performance and value appropriation by pairing data from the Utah Multiple Listing Service with hand-collected data on LDS (Mormon) church boundaries. By using a novel approach that exploits exogenously assigned LDS church boundaries, I find that social structure can result in market efficiency improvements that create value for firms and improve agent performance. However, I find that the creation and appropriation of value is influenced by outside economic factors, such as incentives, as well as market competition. Additional collected data on exogenous church boundary shocks will allow me to investigate the impact of social structure on value creation and capture over time.

Other Completed Papers
Title: "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Retirement Planning Predicts Employee Health Improvements," with Lamar Pierce. Forthcoming in Psychological Science.

Abstract: Are poor physical and financial health driven by the same underlying psychological factors? We document that the decision to contribute to a 401(k) retirement plan predicts whether or not an individual will act to correct poor physical health indicators revealed during an employer-sponsored health examination. Using this examination as a quasi-exogenous shock to employees’ personal health knowledge, we examine which employees are more likely to improve health, controlling for differences in initial health, demographics, job type, and income. We find that existing retirement contribution patterns and future health improvements are highly correlated. Those that save for the future by contributing to a 401(k) improved abnormal health test results and poor health behaviors approximately 27% more than non-contributors. These findings are consistent with an underlying individual time discounting trait that is both difficult to change and domain interdependent, and that predicts long-term individual behaviors on multiple dimensions.

Title: "Motivational Spillovers from Awards: Crowding Out in a Multi-Tasking Environment," with Ian Larkin and Lamar Pierce. Revision requested at Administrative Science Quarterly.

Abstract: This paper argues that employee award programs can have complex and widespread effects that critically depend on individual differences in motivation. We present a theoretical framework that details how the impact of an award critically depends on three dimensions: heterogeneous worker motivation, multiple job tasks, and award eligibility. Data from an attendance award program implemented at one of five industrial laundry plants shows evidence consistent with our theory. Although the award program improved attendance for those workers with existing problems, it did so only while they retained award eligibility. Furthermore, we find evidence that these reward-motivated employees exploited the rules by calling in sick to retain eligibility. In contrast, workers who had demonstrated perfect attendance show evidence that the award crowded out intrinsic and other internal motivations, reducing their performance on the awarded task. Most strikingly, these internally-motivated employees show signs of negative motivational spillovers—long-term productivity decreases following the award program implementation. Our paper suggests that even purely symbolic awards can generate gaming and crowding out costs that spill over to the most important productive tasks.

Faculty Advisor(s):
Lamar Pierce

Previous Employment:
Company Manager - Gubler Electric, Inc.

Education:
  • 2008, BA Economics, Brigham Young University
  • 2013, MS Business Administration, Washington University in St. Louis

Hometown:
Orem, Utah


Curriculum Vitae
Website | Email