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Mark A. Conley

Affiliated Research Fellow, Associate Professor - EDHEC Business School

Emma is an affiliated research fellow with the House of Innovation and a postdoctoral researcher affiliated with the Engineering Design and Industrial Economics and Management departments at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on business strategies in relation to innovation.

Her doctoral work focused on factors affecting performance of entrepreneurial teams, specifically looking at companies in real time and how predictive factors vary as early stage companies’ development matures. Her research explored team relationships (such as identity, commitment, and conflict) of entrepreneurial teams and their effects on team performance. The work was done in collaboration with top entrepreneurial scholars at SSE and other leading universities in Europe and followed companies for over several years across numerous incubators in the Nordics and CEE.

Emma holds a PhD from Stockholm School of Economics (SSE), an MS Business Administration from Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, an MSc Management Sciences from Said Business School, University of Oxford, and a BA Economics from Johns Hopkins University. She also worked as a research associate at Harvard Business School researching management control systems and entrepreneurship. Prior research focused on work commitment and employee turnover, and economic policy enforcement in emerging industries.

Selected Publications

The Motivation of Mission Statements: How Regulatory Mode Influences Workplace Discrimination

We (Kanze, Conley & Higgins)  investigated whether the way in which an organization pursues its goals can influence ethical violations, such as employment discrimination. We tested this hypothesis among US franchises, which employ a considerable amount of low-income workers. We performed a linguistic analysis of franchise mission statements to determine how they pursue goals. Discriminatory behavior is associated with franchises whose mission statements motivate employees to embrace urgent action (locomotion mode) over thoughtful consideration (assessment mode). Two experiments reinforced the causal role of locomotion and the absence of assessment in workplace discrimination. Also see a practical description of this research in HBR: https://hbr.org/2020/02/research-organizations-that-move-fast-really-do-break-things. Preregistration, raw data, and code for those experiments are posted on the Open Science Framework: https://osf.io/9tzdr/

We Ask Men to Win and Women Not To Lose (Kanze, Huang, Conley & Higgins 2018 - "Best Article" Winner in Academy of Management Journal; also Kanze, Huang, Conley & Higgins, 2017 in HBR)

My colleagues and I (Kanze, Huang, Conley & Higgins) showed how entrepreneurs seeking investors must communicate in the lexicon of a gain-framed goal orientation, signalling no concerns for potential losses, in order to best raise venture capital funding. Although this method of communication may seem deceitful or indirect, it is absolutely appropriate in low-information high-uncertainty meetings, where investors rely on heuristics to guide their decisions.  We tested this hypothesis about gain frames using an archival study of a strategic and high-stakes setting: venture capital pitch competitions.   At these events, competitors pitch their startups using only the motivational lexicon associated with approaching gains and avoiding non-gains. Afterwards, potential investors ask men questions reflecting that orientation towards potential gains, but they ask women questions oriented towards potential losses. These question and answer exchanges are predictive of funding outcomes, even when controlling for other established funding variables. Following this observational study with an experiment using laymen and another using real angel investors, our research identifies an actionable verbal remedy that entrepreneurs can use during these crucial interactions.

Value from Fit with Distinct Motivational Field Environments (in Basic and Applied Social Psychology; Conley & Higgins, 2018)

For almost forty years gun ownership and the motivational underpinnings of why guns are valued has received little attention in psychology. Using motivation science theories that explain value creation (regulatory focus and regulatory fit), we tested for fit between fundamental motivations and gun ownership. Our field experiments at American gun shows demonstrate a motivational fit, congruency between gun ownership and the motivation to avoid, prevent, and maintain vigilance. By verbally manipulating regulatory focus, we isolated how guns are valued more by prevention motivations than by promotion. We speculate that prevention similarly motivates gun rights advocacy. Our research is agnostic regarding the legal and moral components of the gun rights debate. Instead, we examine the malleability of gun value as a function of regulatory focus and regulatory fit, and also provide evidence for fit effects with distinct motivational environments. Raw data and code are posted on the Open Science Framework: https://osf.io/u6ykj/

Highlighted Research