Erica Anthony

Erica Anthony's research focuses on leadership, motivation, emotions, and deviance. (Photo by Mark Simons)

Engineered to Lead

Erica Anthony, PhD ’12, OBHR

Engineering has been called the art of making things work. Perhaps that’s part of the motivation for Erica Anthony’s pursuit of a doctorate in organizational behavior and human resources at Krannert.

While working as a systems engineer at Honeywell and in various professional positions with Sprint, Anthony became fascinated with the behaviors of workers and managers within organizations.

During her time at Sprint, for example, the wireless communications giant merged with Nextel. People were naturally concerned about their jobs because layoffs were occurring, Anthony says.

“The climate became a bit somber and a lot of employees were concerned about the status of their jobs. I also saw a lot of changes in leadership in our organization and was curious to know about the discussions that were taking place in boardrooms for those decisions to occur.”

Anthony’s work experience and the U.S. economic conditions have inspired her to focus on leadership in her research. Leaders are pivotal in setting the direction and vision for employees. One of Anthony’s current working papers follows that interest by focusing on leadership and motivation, particularly what is termed intrinsic motivation, or empowerment.


“The more enriching the interaction among department heads, the greater impact it has on their teams’ efficiency.”
“How are leaders empowered, and what does that empowerment mean for subordinates?” she asks. “Most of the existing research looks at what managers and supervisors can do to empower employees and make them more productive. But our work explores the leader aspect of empowerment –– how will leaders develop empowerment and how will their level of empowerment impact their subordinates.”

In another working paper, Anthony tackles leadership among mid-level leaders and teams. “It looks at cross-functional teams and how the lateral coordination among department heads are influential with affecting team performance.”

“We’ve found that it’s the quality of coordination among department heads, not the quantity, that makes the most difference,” she says. “The more enriching the interaction among department heads, the greater impact it has on their teams’ efficiency.”

In addition to leadership and motivation, Anthony’s research interests include workplace emotions and deviance –– potentially critical factors in these stressful times.

“When individuals are angry because they feel they haven’t been treated fairly, they may engage in covert or overt behaviors in an attempt to balance their perception of injustice,” she says. “My interests include all forms of deviance, from counterproductive work behaviors to aggression –– anything that could undermine an individual’s or an organization’s success.”

Anthony is excited about her future as a scholar. She is eager to begin her career as an educator for future business leaders and to continue her examination of the behaviors that have an impact on workplace efficiency. Her perspective is that improvements in efficiency translate to improvements in the bottom line.

To learn more about Erica Anthony, visit her PhD student directory page and read her Q&A profile on the Krannert School’s website.

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