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Dr. Miriam Erez: Professor Emeritus, Vice Dean MBA Programs, Technion: Israel Institute of Technology

April 8, 2014

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 4.A, Idea: Women in Academia (Part Three)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: April 8, 2014

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2014

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,107

ISSN 2369-6885

Dr. Miriam Erez

1. In terms of geography, culture, and language, where does your family background reside?  How do you find this influencing your development?

I was born in Israel. My father came to Israel in a youth movement in 1925, as a pioneer who wanted to build an independent state for the Jewish people, and their dream was realized 1948 with the establishment of Israel as an independent state.

My mother’s older brother did the same, and his family followed him and came to Israel in 1931, when my mother was 11 years old.

2. What do you consider a pivotal moment in your upbringing? Did this influence your entering into the your field?  If so, how?

A pivotal moment was when my parents moved to a suburb of Haifa, when I was 8 years old. In this community the emphasis was on contribution to the society at large and to the local community in particular, including the absorption of new immigrants who managed to survive the holocaust and to come to Israel. This has strongly influence my own personal development.

3. Your current responsibilities lie in research and teaching under The Mendes France Chair of Management & Economics.  What does this role imply?  What courses do you teach at present?  In particular, what research have you conducted up to present through this position?

I do not anymore hold the Mendes France Chair… because I am a professor emeritus now.  However, I am still the Vice Dean for the MBA programs, the advisor to the Technion President on the promotion of women students and faculty, I am the chair of the National Council for the promotion of women in science and technology, and the founder and chair of the Knowledge Center for Innovation, which I established after I received the Israel Prize in 2005, and I felt I want to contribution to the Israeli society by enhancing innovation in the Israeli industry.

4. An aging workforce stands as a major problem for the economy of advanced industrial nations, especially in the long-term.  According to Tanova and Boltom in 2008, traditional factors contributing to ‘voluntary turnover’ are the ‘ease of movement’ and the ‘desirability of moving’ with regards to work.  Furthermore, you found new results about the contributory factor of ‘job embeddedness’.  In a paper entitled Why People Stay: using Job Embeddedness to Predict Voluntary Turnover (2001), you state, “The personal and organizational costs of leaving a job are often very high.”  Can you define ‘job embeddedness’?  Why does voluntary turnover occur in spite of the ‘very high’ costs?  In particular, what does this mean for advanced industrial nations with an aging work force?

Embeddedness conveys the meaning of being part of workplace, part of the community and part of the physical surrounding. One of our poets – Saul Tcernichovsky, wrote that a “Man is nothing but his native landscape format”.   What this means is that we are shaped by, and become part of the place in which we work, we live as part of the social community, and as part of the physical landscape. Our research findings showed that indeed, people who have a stronger sense of embeddedness are less likely to change their workplace and their social community.  This paper highlights the existence of forces that attenuate the likelihood of turnover, and that it is not only the level of work satisfaction which explains the tendency to stay or quit jobs.

5. Of particular interest in the area of life, but within your area of expertise as well – work, you published a paper in 2013 called Emotion Display Norms in Virtual Teams.  You incorporated a conceptual framework from A dynamic multi-level model of culture: From the microlevel of the individual to the macro level of a global culture (2004).  This describes the connections of nested relationships between cultures and values from the individual to the global level.  What were the findings of this 2013 paper?  In addition, in an increasingly diverse, multi-cultural, and international world and subsequent work environment, how much does understanding multi-cultural and contextual differences in emotion matter for virtual collaboration? 

We are only now starting to learn the effect of a virtual, multicultural environment on human communication, on the social identity – from a local identity to a global identity, and on team cooperation and team performance. The 2013 paper on emotion display norms showed that there is going to be a global culture, with global emotion display norms. Namely, when working in the global work context, people from different cultures perceive the emotional display norms in a similar way, namely, more positive and less negative than in their own culture. While there is going to be a consensus among members from different cultures about the emotion display norms in the global context, there is still a high variation in the perceived emotion display norms in different cultures.  My prediction is that individuals and teams are going to function at two contextual environments, in their local cultural environments, in which they activate their local identity and display emotions in line with their cultural norms, and at the same time, they also function in a global context, in which they activate their global identity and display emotions similar to others who come from other cultures.

6. You co-authored an interesting paper in 2005 highly relevant to entrepreneurs in the world of international business called Culture and International Business: Recent Advanced and Future Directions.  It looks into the changing nature of international business.  In particular, you ask if global business will change, and if the various differences in values and culture might create a standard set of ‘business practices’.  The paper was meant to draw out the basis for future directions of research.  What future directions did you derive from the research?

Similar to my answer to point #6, we are going to live in two contexts – the immediate local cultural context, and the more distant, global work context. As a result, we are going to develop two identities – local and global identity, and two sets for emotional and behavioral norms – one for the local culture and one for the global culture. Hence, the world is going to be more complex and individuals will have to learn which emotion to display and which identity to activate, depending on the salience of the local versus global context. Furthermore, it will be interesting to study which identity dominates in case of identity conflicts.

7. In a hypothetical perfect world with plenty of funding and time, and if guaranteed an answer, what single topic would you research?

I would study how to enhance the level of creativity and innovation in a global work environment of a growing complexity, and through cooperation, in order to come up with solutions to human problems in all the spectrum of life, in all parts of the world, and to share the benefit of innovation in a more egalitarian way.

8. What do you consider the controversial topic in your field at this time?  How do you examine the issue?

The controversial topic in my field pertains to the increasing level of diversity in the workplace, as a result of globalization, and to the impact of team and organizational diversity on innovation.

I initiate studies on the meaning of creativity in different cultures, and studies on the interaction effect of culture and the work context on creativity. For example, in our 2013 paper we studied the level of innovation of culturally diverse teams versus homogenous teams when working under very specific instructions versus general ones and we found, that the level of creativity is higher under general versus specific instructions for both culturally heterogeneous versus homogenous teams. This is not the case when performing and “execute” task that has one correct answer.  In this case, homogeneous teams work better than heterogeneous teams when performing a task under general instructions, but there are no differences between the two types of teams when working under specific instructions.

9. You have spent time speaking on the plights of women in the academy.  In particular, the low enrollment and graduation rates of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.  What is the set of causes for this plight?

We are in a period of change from a traditional society with a clear sex role differentiation – women at home, men at work, to a modern egalitarian society with equal opportunities to make choices for both men and women. The change is already observed in medicine, where the percentage of men and women is equal today, but there were times when women were not allowed to be admitted to medical schools. But another related reason for it is that women have a higher social motivation than men, and better social skills than men, and as a result, they are more attracted to jobs that allow them to interact with others and to contribute to the society. Today we find that the gap between technology and socially oriented work is getting smaller. For example, there is a strong relationship between having IT knowledge and skills, and facilitating social interactions via social networks. Also there is a strong relationship between medical instruments and helping people to improve their quality of life.  In addition, there is a shortage of engineers and scientists today, and the job opportunities and the high salaries relative to social science jobs, will eventually attract more women and companies will pay more attention to make the workplace more friendly to women.

10. If any, what responsibility do academics and researchers have for contributing to society and culture?

Academics and researchers have a huge responsibility for contributing to society and culture. They are responsible for the education of the new generations, they are responsible for developing new knowledge in all fields of science and technology, and consequently, they are responsible to the quality of life and well-being of humanity.
11. Who most influenced you? Why them?  Can you recommend any books or articles by them?

It is hard for me to answer it. I was influenced by different people and different books in different periods of my life. I believe that I was also influenced by the interaction with my family members and with my students as I have developed as a person, as an educator and as a researcher.

12. Where do you see your field in the next 5, 10, and 25 years?  With respect to more representation of women, where do you see the demographics of men and women?  Especially, what about the high-end of the achievement?

I think that the direction of our field of social sciences in general and of organization behavior in particular is going towards a higher level of complexity, a stronger emphasis on methodology, and a new direction towards studying the physiological correlates of emotions, thoughts and behaviors.

Bibliography

1)  Erez, M. [The Open University]. (2012, December 2). Prof. Miriam Erez: Statistical Overview of Women in Science in Israel and Abroad. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9kOOoM-n2g

2)  Erez, M., and Gati, E., (2004). A dynamic multi-level model of culture: From the microlevel of the individual to the macro level of a global culture. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 53, 583-598.

3)  Glikson, E., & Erez, M. (2013). Emotion display norms in virtual teams. Journal Of Personnel Psychology, 12(1), 22-32. doi:10.1027/1866-5888/a000078

4)  Govindarajan, V. and Gupta, A.K. (2001) The Quest for Global Dominance: Transforming Global Presence into Global Competitive Advantage, Jossey-Bass: San Francisco.

5)  Hofstede, G. (1980) Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values, Sage: Newbury Park, CA.

6)  Leung, K., Bhagat, R., Buchan, N.R, Erez, M., and Gibson, C.B. (2005). Culture and International Business: Recent Advanced and Future Directions.  Journal of International Business Studies 36, 357-378

7)  Mitchell, T.R., Holtom, B.C., Lee, T.W., Sablynski, C.J. and Erez, M. (2001). “Why People Stay: Using Job Embeddedness to Predict Voluntary Turnover”. Academy of Management Journal, 44, 1102-1122

8)  Tanova, C., & Holtom, B. C. (2008). Using job embeddedness factors to explain voluntary turnover in four European countries. International Journal Of Human Resource Management, 19(9), 1553-1568. doi:10.1080/09585190802294820

9)  Yarron, H. M. et al [The Open University]. (2012, December 17). Panel Discussion: The Road to the Top: Paved with Dubious Intentions?. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6ccvZMtqF8

License

In-sight by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, In-sight, and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-sight with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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