Professor Andrew Knight presents his research on managing millenials.

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​Leadership Research

The Bauer Leadership Center is dedicated to supporting the research and scholarly activities by providing tools and resources that enhance leadership research and allow our faculty to remain at the forefront of research excellence.

Research and Case Work Seed Funding

The Bauer Leadership Center supports the scholarly activities of WashU Olin PhD students by providing them with tools and resources to enhance their leadership research. For more information contact For more information about funding, contact

Jasmine HuangJasmine Huang, PhD ’19 (expected), Organizational Behavior “Examining the Drivers of Managers’ Blame and Credit Behaviors in the Workplace”
Listen to podcast: Vice Chancellor of International Affairs and Bank of America Professor of Leadership, Kurt Dirks, interviews Jasmine

Elizabeth LuckmanElizabeth Luckman, PhD ’18, Organizational Behavior “The Influence of Images of God on our Implicit Leadership Theories”

Global Consortium of Leadership Centers

In an effort to advance the science and practice of leadership, the Bauer Leadership Center has worked to create a global consortium of organizations. The inaugural summit, held in the Netherlands on November 5 and 6, 2018, included representatives from these schools: INSEAD (France, Singapore), Goethe University (Frankfurt), University Groningen (Netherlands), Aarhus University (Denmark), Leiden University (Netherlands), Utrecht University (Netherlands) and WashU Olin (USA). The Bauer Leadership Center will host the consortium’s next meeting on November 5 and 6, 2019.

Academic Conferences

When Work is a Calling | October 10-11, 2019

The “Calling Community Conversation” is a first-of-its-kind meeting of about 15 of the top scholars who study work as a calling. This is a field of research that has seen steady growth in recent years in terms of the quantity of studies produced. The objectives of the gathering are to foster dialogue among scholars who have conceptualized calling in slightly different ways, to explore new opportunities for collaboration, and to discuss how to position research on calling to be impactful in the future. Participants will come from North America, Europe and Australia.

Organizational Higher Purpose Conference | November 8-9, 2019

This invitation-only conference will consider the power of organizational purpose and how it relates to personal and organizational outcomes. Researchers who have investigated the topic and practitioners who have undertaken the journey will provide insights and perspectives in a series of expert panels on different aspects of higher purpose. Designed for senior leaders who want to learn more about higher purpose and how it can benefit their organizations, you’ll be invited to participate in the discussion, exchange of ideas, and contribute to the insights that emerge from the day. cohosted with Wells Fargo Advisors Center for Finance and Accounting Research (CFAR) and Barry Wehmiller Cos, Inc.

Contributing Faculty

The Center highlights faculty members whose research is relevant to its mission of advancing science and practice. Examples include:

Professors Stuart Bunderson and Anjan Thakor report findings of a recent survey of 1,019 U.S. individuals to learn about their commitment to and perceived value from a personal and organizational higher purpose. One striking survey finding is that when an organization has a written higher purpose statement, its employees tend to trust their leaders to be socially responsible and to make better business decisions, i.e. employees have a more positive view of corporate governance.

Thakor-video Professor Anjan Thakor and co-author Robert E. Quinn provide a framework that can help managers create a purpose-driven organization. In their consulting work with hundreds of organizations and in their research—which includes extensive interviews with dozens of leaders and the development of a theoretical model—they have come to see that when an authentic purpose permeates business strategy and decision making, the personal good and the collective good become one. Positive peer pressure kicks in, and employees are reenergized. Collaboration increases, learning accelerates, and performance climbs.

Publication: Creating a Purpose-Driven Organization, Harvard Business Review, July – August 2018; Olin Faculty Anjan Thakor, Director of Doctoral Programs & CFAR and John E. Simon Professor of Finance. Coauthor Robert E. Quinn, Professor Emeritus of Management and Organizations, University of Michigan

Professor Stuart Bunderson and Bret Sanner, assistant professor of management, Shenandoah University, challenged the prevailing view that hierarchies are perceived as an obstacle to innovation. Their research suggests that hierarchy, when used in the right way and at the right time, can be critical for team learning and innovation. “To ask when hierarchy is important to team learning and innovation is really the same as asking when it is useful to have informal leaders driving the process.”

Publication: The Truth about Hierarchy,” MIT Sloan Management Review, Winter 2018 issue. Olin Faculty: Stuart Bunderson, co-director of the Bauer Leadership Center and George and Carol Bauer Professor of Organizational Ethics and Governance

video Professors Radhakrishnan Gopalan and Todd Milbourn shed light on the costs of linking compensation to performance targets. While linking executive compensation to specific performance goals is an accepted and widely used practice that provides strong incentives to top management intended to make pay contracts more transparent, the researchers have discovered a dark side to performance-based contracts. Based on analysis of executive pay and performance at the 750 largest firms by market capitalization between 1998-2012, they discover what happens when managers try to game the system to meet, beat, or lowball performance goals.

Publication: Comp Targets That Work, Harvard Business Review, September–October 2017; and “Compensation Goals and Firm Performance,” Journal of Financial Economics, Volume 124, Issue 2, May 2017. Olin Faculty: Todd Milbourn, Hubert C. and Dorothy R. Moog Professor of Finance; Radhakrishnan Gopalan, professor of finance; John Horn, senior lecturer in economics. Coauthors: Benjamin Bennett, Air Force Institute of Technology; Carr Bettis, Arizona State University.

Professor Markus Baer coauthored research demonstrating that competition between teams is stimulating to the creativity of teams composed largely or exclusively of men but detrimental to the creativity of groups composed exclusively of women. Their study also revealed that within-group collaboration was responsible for this effect—groups of women collaborated less and groups composed of men collaborated more as competition between groups heated up.

Publication: Intergroup Competition as a Double-edged Sword: How Sex Composition Regulates the Effects of Competition on Group Creativity, Organization Science, 892–908, December 2013. Olin Faculty: Markus Baer, associate professor of organizational behavior. Coauthors: Roger T. A. J. Leenders, Tilburg University; Greg R. Oldham, Tulane University; Abhijeet K. Vadera, Indian School of Business.

video Professor Lamar Pierce has examined how firm investments in technology-based employee monitoring impact both misconduct and productivity. The study used detailed theft and sales data from 392 restaurant locations of five firms that adopted a theft monitoring information technology (IT) product. Implementation not only reduced theft but also increased employee productivity—server tips increased by $0.58 per hour, suggesting that without the additional income from theft, the servers focused on increased efforts toward productivity. Pierce believes these findings can be applied to other workplaces and industries where managerial solutions such as IT monitoring can realign incentives, dramatically reduce corrupt behavior, and benefit both firms and employees.

Publication: Cleaning House: The Impact of Information Technology on Employee Corruption and Productivity, Management Science, Vol 61, Issue 10, 2299-2319, May 2015. Olin Faculty: Lamar Pierce, professor of strategy. Coauthors: Andrew McAfee, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Daniel C. Snow, Brigham Young University.