Wee wins best dissertation award from Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Elijah Wee, an assistant professor of management at the University of Washington Foster School of Business, has received the S. Rains Wallace Dissertation Award from the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP).

SIOP, the influential professional association, recognized Wee’s doctoral work demonstrating that employees can help end a cycle of supervisory abuse by making themselves essential to their abusive boss.

Wee’s dissertation generated the paper “Moving from Abuse to Reconciliation: A Power-Dependence Perspective on When and How a Follower Can Break the Spiral of Abuse,” published in the December 2017 issue of the Academy of Management Journal.

The major insight of his doctoral work concerns the role of power dynamic in abusive supervision. Wee found that when an abusive boss holds all the power—and an organization’s preventive polices prove ineffective—the environment is conducive to abuse. And downtrodden employees have traditionally had little recourse but to quit the job, seek solace in damaging behaviors such as drinking, or just learn to take it on the chin.

But Wee discovered that by flipping the power dynamic, even a bit, an employee can bring an end to supervisory bullying over time. And when an abusive manager recognizes his reliance on an employee, he is more likely to reconcile and repair the damaged relationship.

“Our study challenges the conventional notion of the follower as passive and defenseless against the spiral of abuse,” Wee says.

Wee joined the Foster School’s Department of Management and Organization in 2017, after earning his PhD at the University of Maryland.

His dissertation previously received the Smith Outstanding Dissertation Award from the University of Maryland and was a finalist for the Alvah H. Chapman Jr. Outstanding Dissertation Award from Florida International University. Wee was named the Allan N. Nash Outstanding Doctoral Student by the University of Maryland Smith School of Business.

In 2017 he won the Best Paper with Practical Implications Award from the Organizational Behavior Division of the Academy of Management.

Wee’s research interests include power and status dynamics, creativity and employee innovation, and organizational change.