Cum grano salis, with a Grain of Salt: Gender Differences in the Involvement of Superiors in Problem Formulation

Renate Kratochvil, Claudio Biscaro, Esther Tippmann, Phillip Nell, Andrew Parker

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


In this research, we examine female and male problem solvers seeking out superiors in problem formulation. Problem formulation is a critical activity: On the one hand, it unveils what causes a problem, such as loss of customers, and lays the groundwork for the development of an innovative and creative solution. On the other hand, digging into understanding problems rather than finding solutions can reflect negatively on an employee. We take a social role perspective to investigate who female and male problem solvers involve. We use data from 439 dyads that 113 problem solvers formed to solve non-routine problems. Using regression analysis, we reveal that (lower tenured) female problem solvers have a higher likelihood of involving superiors than males do. In addition, we are currently running two experiments to confirm our findings. These results extend the current understanding of why superiors are not always sought out, why social expectations play a role in the activity of problem formulation, and how female and male problem solvers approach problem solving differently.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2021
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes
EventDRUID21 Conference - Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark
Duration: 18 Oct 202120 Oct 2021
Conference number: 42


ConferenceDRUID21 Conference
LocationCopenhagen Business School
Internet address


  • Expectations
  • Gender
  • Problem formulation
  • Social role
  • Solutions
  • Superiors
  • Tenure

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