We’ve heard about the financial aspects of the recent economic crisis, but what about the human capital side? A down economy, with bottom lines suffering and massive unemployment, presents a host of potential problems and opportunities for corporate managers. Employees may behave differently than in rosier times, and it takes canny management to be alert to the new dynamics. For instance, those workers fortunate enough to have jobs may nonetheless have been subjected to pay freezes or even cuts, a sure drag on incentive. How then does their employer hope to motivate them to do more than just “mail it in”? And with corporate profits squeezed, pressured employees may be more focused on their losses than their gains, a mindset that could tempt them to stretch ethical boundaries more than they might have when gains were the norm. As for those companies who are, or expect to be, in a hiring mode, they have an unusually large pool of job applicants from which to choose. Should an applicant’s relevant experience automatically make him or her a better hire, or are there unforeseen complexities when they bring their experience to the new organization?

The following excerpts of three papers by Stern faculty present research that will provoke a thoughtful contemplation of the dynamics of human organizational behavior and how to manage it.