A PhD candidate at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business was chosen as a finalist in a dissertation proposal contest organized by one of the world’s top research associations.
Hyeun Jung Lee presented her work on Oct. 19, 2019, at the fall conference of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) in Seattle, Wash. She was one of eight finalists selected from an international pool of applicants.
The Best Dissertation Proposal Competition is the most prestigious contest available to doctoral students from INFORMS.
Lee’s research focuses on peer influence in organizations. “I am interested in returns in terms of performance — how my performance is affected by peer performance,” she says.
Lee mostly find positive effects when workers associate with high-performing peers. But the peer influence can cut both ways.
“My dissertation work shows that there may be detrimental sides to peer influence, and returns to peers may highly vary among different individuals in the organizations,” she says.
The first part of her dissertation is under review at Management Science. The paper draws conclusions from a multiyear field study at a Korean boarding school, where random roommate assignments occur in an environment of intense competition.
“I find that well-performing peers have negative consequences for the focal student's subsequent performance,” Lee says.
The second part of her dissertation focuses on gender effects. “In this paper I argue that returns from peers vary based on gender because females may find it more difficult to access the same information available to their peers — especially male peers,” she says.
Lee started her PhD program at Maryland Smith in fall 2014. She earned undergraduate and specialty master’s degrees from Seoul National University in Korea.