Hui Liao

Hui Liao

Dr. Hui Liao is the endowed Smith Dean's Professor in Leadership and Management at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business. Before joining Maryland, she was on the faculties of the Rutgers University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She received her Ph.D. with concentrations in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources from the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management, and her BA in International Economics from the Renmin University of China.

Fearless Idea 15: Break the Spiral of Abuse

An abusive boss can make work miserable for anyone, prompting defiant employees to retaliate or flee. New research co-authored by Smith School professor Hui Liao shows a third option. "Targets of humiliation, intimidation and verbal attacks can balance the dynamics over time and influence supervisors to mend strained relationships," Liao says. "Sometimes that won’t happen, but a follower has more power than he or she might realize." Breaking the spiral of abuse starts with the understanding that bullies rely on an imbalance of power in their favor, but the needle can move in any dyad. Read more...

Unethical Business with a Smile: Why Friendly Isn’t Enough

Don’t let your guard down just because a customer service agent has a disarming smile. New research from Smith School professor Hui Liao shows that companies can be friendly and unscrupulous at the same time. "Service climate is distinct from ethical climate," she says. “It’s possible to do harm, but to do it in a nice way.” Some companies even use flattery and attentiveness to compensate for their failure to protect customer interests. “Service providers may amplify superior service behavior to distract customers from unethical acts,” Liao says. Read more...

The Freedom to Gripe About Your Job

Want to talk about who is overpaid or underpaid at your office, or gripe about long hours or working conditions? You can, according to the National Labor Relations Board. But a well-run company with fair compensation practices shouldn't be overly worried if its employees talk about pay, says Smith School professor Hui Liao. She says pay gaps, particularly those based on merit, can motivate people. Read more...

Creating a Culture of Self-Starters

Companies in which employees feel empowered to solve problems on their own, rather than simply follow rules, outperform peers where that doesn't happen — and employees at such companies feel a sense of self-mastery, which improves morale. But can you create such a culture — and, if so, how? There are at least two paths to building a company of self-starters, suggests new research by Smith School professor Hui Liao. Read more...

Shaming Your Highly Paid CEO

Can U.S. companies be embarrassed out of paying their CEOs hundreds of times what the average worker makes? The SEC wants to find out. By a 3-2 vote, the agency recently ordered that companies begin disclosing the ratio of their CEO’s pay to that of the median employee. The rule’s backers believe it's indefensible that CEO pay has grown in the last-half century from 50 times what the average worker makes to roughly 300 times, even as middle-class wages have stagnated. Smith School professors Hui Liao and Michael Faulkender have differing viewpoints. Read more...

Managers: Beware of Gender Faultlines

Do you have gender "faultlines" in your organization? New research co-authored by Smith School professor Hui Liao suggests that such fissures appear when gender differences solidify into cliques. And this tends to occur when members of one gender share other demographic traits and professional interests, such as age, job responsibilities and time served. For example, the men in one organization might be young techies, while the women might tend to be middle-aged marketers. Or vice versa. What's important is that several qualities align in addition to gender, creating a stronger sense of in-group identity among men and women. Read more...

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Robert H. Smith School of Business