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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: “Social Affiliations and Performance in Organizations: The Impact of Church Boundaries on Real Estate Agents in Utah”

Abstract: This paper investigates how social structures and transacting with social affiliates impact real estate agent opportunities and performance in the residential real estate industry in Utah. By using a novel approach that pairs data from the Utah Multiple Listing Service with hand-collected data on geographically assigned LDS (Mormon) church boundaries, I identify listings for which agents and sellers share a common church affiliation. I then explore the impact of this affiliation on agent performance and transaction outcomes. First, I find that listing for church affiliates allows agents to engage in more valuable transactions at lower levels of experience and reputation, and to avoid less valuable transactions. Second, I find agents exert more care and effort when working for affiliates, and eventually sell comparable homes for 2-3% more without significantly increasing time on market. I also find evidence, however, that agents leverage social affiliations in ways not beneficial to the seller. Agents increase dual agency approximately 15% when listing for social affiliates, and are more likely to reduce selling price when experiencing financial need. Overall my results suggest that agents and firms increase revenues on transactions by at least 17% when listing for social affiliates.

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