Gareth Keeves’s research interests include impression management and impression formation in the context of corporate leadership. His first stream of research draws from social and psychological theories to examine interpersonal interactions between top managers. His second stream of research examines the linguistics of organizational communications, using computational linguistics to characterize the nature of company filings. His research has been published in Administrative Science Quarterly and the Academy of Management Journal and has been cited by media outlets including the Washington Post, Quartz, Human Resource Executive and the Boston Globe. He is also the founder and CEO of Menai Insight (https://www.menaiinsight.com/), a company characterizing and standardizing the content and structure of company regulatory filings to facilitate research on corporate governance and corporate communications.
Education: PhD in Strategy, University of Michigan, Ross School of Business
Abstract: Using survey data from CEOs and other top managers at large and mid-sized public companies in the U.S., as well as from journalists, we explore how ingratiation, a fundamental means of building and maintaining one’s social capital, may trigger behavior that damages the social capital of the person being ingratiated. Although ingratiation, such as flattery or opinion conformity, may elicit positive affect from its target, we suggest it can also elicit a specific form of negative affect toward the target, which in turn can trigger interpersonal harm-doing. Focusing on ingratiation by top managers toward the CEO, we find that ingratiating managers are likely to develop feelings of resentment toward the CEO and that ingratiation may be especially likely to elicit resentment among top managers when the CEO is a racial minority or a woman. We also find that negative affect from ingratiation can induce interpersonal behavior that has the potential to damage the social capital of the influence target, as feelings of resentment that result from ingratiatory behavior can trigger social undermining of the CEO in the manager’s communications with journalists.
Abstract: In this paper we examine white male managers’ intrapsychic and behavioral responses to the appointment of a female or a racial minority CEO at their firm. Drawing from intergroup relations literatures we theorize how and why the appointment of a minority-status CEO is likely to impact the amount of help that white male top managers provide to their fellow executives. We first explain how white male managers’ negatively-biased perceptions of racial minority and female CEOs lead them to experience a diminished sense of organizational identification following the appointment of a minority-status CEO. We then examine how this diminished sense of organizational identification is likely to reduce white male managers’ general propensities to provide help to other executives at the firm. We finally consider how reduced identification might have especially strong negative implications for the amount of help that white male managers provide to colleagues who are racial minorities or women. Our results consistently support our theoretical expectations that, following the appointment of a female or racial minority CEO, white male top managers tend to experience a diminished sense of organizational identification, and in turn provide less help to colleagues, with this reductionparticularly pronounced for help provided to minority-status colleagues.
Book Chapters: Handbook of Middle Management Strategy Process Research, Chapter Title: The Role Of Issue-Selling In Effective Strategy Making Susan Ashford, Madeline Ong, Gareth Keeves. (2017).
Introduction: Writing in 1993, Jane Dutton and Susan Ashford joined a group of scholars advocating a more active role for middle managers in the strategy process (e.g., Bower, 1970; Burgelman, 1983; Westley, 1990; Wooldridge & Floyd, 1990). The strategy literature at that time relied on the top-down logic inherent in many classic writings on strategy (e.g., Ansoff, 1965; Chandler, 1962) and a romanticized view of leadership (Meindl & Ehrlich, 1987), portraying strategy formulation as something undertaken exclusively at the very top levels of organizations and subsequently disseminated down to middle-level managers (and those below them) who passively awaited direction and guidance. Dutton & Ashford (1993) proposed, in contrast, that middle managers often have an active interest in the strategy that gets formulated and engage in active efforts based on that interest to influence it. This chapter explores the literature that has dealt with this idea since 1993. Harvard Business Review: Executives Who Flatter Their CEOs Are More Likely to Criticize Them to the Press (Keeves, Westphal & McDonald, 2017).