PhD Student Wins Academy of Management Award

Friday, August 11, 2017

Jirs MeurisKatz PhD student Jirs Meuris won the Academy of Management HR Division's 2017 Best Student Convention Paper Award. The Best Student Convention Paper Award is given to a student who is the sole or first author on the best paper accepted by the AOM’s Program Committee for their annual conference.

The winning paper, "The Price of Financial Precarity: Personal Finance as a Barrier to Work Performance," examines the impact of personal financial worry on work tasks. Meuris hypothesized that if employees are worried about their finances, then they take this burden with them to work, which takes attention and overall cognitive ability away from work-related tasks. 

“We partnered with a Pittsburgh-based transportation and logistics company to conduct our research,” Meuris says. “We studied the financial worry and driving performance of over 1,200 short-haul track drivers and found that if the drivers were worried about their finances, then they were significantly more likely to have a preventable accident because of decreases in their available cognitive capacity.”

Meuris conducted a second, experimental study to determine if the effect could be replicated. Participants were asked to imagine that their car broke down and that the repair would cost either a small or a large amount of money. Then they drove a route in a driving simulator.

Meuris found that people who had fewer financial resources at their disposal were more distracted by the large cost of the repair. That worry decreased their cognitive capacity and made them more dangerous drivers.

“Our research shows that companies have a self-interest in the financial well-being of their employees,” Meuris says.

Meuris presented the paper at AOM’s annual conference in Atlanta.

In addition to the AOM’s best paper award, Meuris was invited to present his paper, “Do Minimum Wage Increases Affect Organizational Performance? The Case of Skilled Nursing Facilities in the United States,” at the People and Organizations Conference hosted by the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business.

“It is an honor to be invited to present at this conference,” Meuris says. “It’s an excellent opportunity to present my work and meet with like-minded scholars who are committed to advancing research in the areas of work and employment.” 

Meuris is a doctoral candidate in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources Management expecting to graduate in May 2018. He works on this research with his advisor, Carrie Leana, the George H. Love Professor of Organizations and Management at the Katz School, and director of the Katz Center for Healthcare Management and academic director of the Executive MBA in Healthcare program.

Watch a video about the mentoring culture that exists between PhD students and faculty at Katz.