I am a computational social scientist and a management scholar at the Gies School of Business, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
I use computational methods to examine how firms balance competing organizational demands of financial performance and social responsibility. My dissertation work focuses on purpose and culture. Below is a list of my published articles and current projects.
An Eye for AI - Insights into the Governance of Artificial Intelligence and Vision for Future Research (2022)
(Deepika Chhillar & Ruth Aguilera)
Artificial intelligence is introducing significant structural and institutional changes by challenging existing laws and regulations, industry practices (e.g., standard settings), emerging organizational forms (e.g., platforms), new forms of labor (e.g., algorithmic auditors), and leadership roles (e.g., shifting authority regimes and new professional roles). In our article, we've talked about how we can harness AI's power through governance so as to help solve societal problems without amplifying existing inequalities or creating new ones. Based on a review of contemporary research, we address three fundamental governance questions - What are the sources of AI's bias and opacity? Why do we need AI to be fair and transparent? And most importantly, what can organizations and policy makers do to mitigate AI's pitfalls as they design and approve AI-based products and services?
Manuscripts under Review
Cultural Conundrums - Unveiling Implicit Associations Between Organizational Cultures and Wrongdoing (Title altered for peer review)
(Deepika Chhillar, Geoffrey Love, & Matthew Kraatz)
This study investigates how cultures of firms that engage in wrongdoing differ from those that do not. Our novel approach of comprehensively capturing the multifaceted nature of culture and identifying its implicit associations with deliberate wrongdoing helps develop new insights into this relationship. Specifically, we measure wrongdoing via financial restatements and litigations, and draw on employee accounts of organizational life from reviews posted on Glassdoor to measure cultural features. Using a machine-learning approach, we examine data obtained from more than 450 large US-based public firms over a six-year period. Through abductive analysis, we identify four cultural themes that are strongly associated with wrongdoing. The resulting insights aid in building and testing theory, offer warning signs for practitioners, and can guide the discovery of causal forces.
Duality of Purpose - When does organizational purpose align with employee experiences?
The concept of purpose has been receiving significant attention in the management discourse, due to its potential to address various organizational challenges. Purpose is both a superordinate goal encompassing multiple stakeholders’ nonfinancial objectives and an internal managerial tool to foster engagement and motivation. Yet there has been limited empirical research on purpose claims, employees’ experience of purpose, and the relationship between the two. This paper investigates factors that influence employees experience of purpose and presents a systematic analysis of purpose claims and experience in large US-based public firms (S&P 500) over six years (2015–2020). It draws from Glassdoor data (textual analysis), Wayback Machine (archival data), RepRisk data, and 10-k reports. Employees of organizations that emphasize prosocial values and engage in fewer ESG violations are more likely to experience purpose, suggesting the significance of aligning corporate action with social and ethical goals. Investigating these dynamics contributes to a deeper understanding of how organizational and leaders’ actions shape individuals' experiences of purpose, ultimately informing strategies for fostering meaningful and purposeful work environments.
Selected Work in Progress
Organizational Purpose and Social Performance - Do actions speak louder than words?
In this working paper, I empirically measure and explore the connections between organizational purpose and corporate social performance. The study aims to investigate whether firms that possess a profound sense of purpose are more inclined to demonstrate social responsibility, while also examining the factors that influence this relationship. To assess corporate social performance, I utilize the RepRisk dataset, which captures a firm's environmental, social, and governance (ESG) violations. The preliminary findings of this study indicate that organizations whose employees experience a deep sense of purpose, i.e., widespread and sustained employee experience of purpose, display more socially responsible organizational behavior over time. Additionally, ESG violations, especially on the part of leadership, can dampen the sense of purpose experienced by employees. The results highlight how organizations’ social responsibility and purpose-driven management are co-constituted.
In the final chapter of my dissertation, I conduct a qualitative study that spans four years (2017-2020), focusing on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on an ed-tech startup. In my analysis, I drew data from three primary sources - semi-structured interviews, archival sources, including fact sheets and photographs, and in-situ observations. The study's findings indicate that managers adopted creative and original methods to replicate a comparable cultural environment (as in a co-located setting), distinct from traditional solutions employed by larger incumbent organizations. Furthermore, the research indicates that the transitional phase influenced the workforce differently, based on socio-economic differences among employees. Findings from this research contribute to our understanding of the challenges faced by small enterprises in the face of radical change, particularly within the context of emerging economies.