Zoë B. Cullen

Rock Center 210
Harvard Business School
60 N. Harvard
Boston, MA 02163

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: Harvard University

NBER Working Papers and Publications

December 2019The Old Boys' Club: Schmoozing and the Gender Gap
with Ricardo Perez-Truglia: w26530
The old boys’ club refers to the alleged advantage that male employees have over their female counterparts in interacting with powerful men. For example, male employees may schmooze with their managers in ways that female employees cannot. We study this phenomenon using data from a large financial institution. We use an event study analysis of manager rotation to estimate the causal effect of managers’ gender on their employees’ career progression. We find that when male employees are assigned to male managers, they are promoted faster in the following years than they would have been if they were assigned to female managers. Female employees, on the contrary, have the same career progression regardless of the manager’s gender. These differences in career progression cannot be explained by ...
October 2018The Salary Taboo: Privacy Norms and the Diffusion of Information
with Ricardo Perez-Truglia: w25145
The limited diffusion of salary information has implications for labor markets, such as wage discrimination policies and collective bargaining. Access to salary information is believed to be limited and unequal, but there is little direct evidence on the sources of these information frictions. Social scientists have long conjectured that privacy norms around salary (i.e., the “salary taboo”) play an important role. We provide unique evidence of this phenomenon based on a field experiment with 755 employees at a multibillion-dollar corporation. We provide revealed-preference evidence that many employees are unwilling to reveal their salaries to coworkers and reluctant to ask coworkers about their salaries. These frictions are still present, but smaller in magnitude, when sharing information...
July 2018How Much Does Your Boss Make? The Effects of Salary Comparisons
with Ricardo Perez-Truglia: w24841
The vast majority of the pay inequality in an organization comes from differences in pay between employees and their bosses. But are employees aware of these pay disparities? Are employees demotivated by this inequality? To address these questions, we conducted a field experiment with a sample of 2,060 employees from a multibilliondollar corporation. We make use of the firm’s administrative records alongside survey data and information-provision experiments. First, we document large misperceptions among the employees about the salaries of their managers and smaller but still significant misperceptions of the salaries of their peers. Second, we show that these perceptions have a significant causal effect on the employees’ own behavior. When they find out that their managers earn more than t...
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