Shu Zhang

Postdoctoral Research Scholar
Management Division
Columbia Business School
3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
Tel: 212-854-2836



Biography Research Publications Teaching


I am a Postdoctoral Research Scholar in Management at Columbia Business School with Profs E. Tory Higgins and Michael Morris. My research revolves around motivation and culture, and their implications for building effective leaders and managers in organizations. Here is my CV.


My research primarily focuses on how a precedent affects decisions and behaviors, and its implications for organizational leaders and managers. In particular, I adopt motivational and social cognitive lenses to study the impacts of a precedent on individual decision-making, interpersonal behaviors, and cross-cultural interactions. One stream of my research investigates the motivation behind repeating a precedent, such as the managing methods used by a former boss or a prior decision made by oneself, even when the precedent is unpleasant, ineffective, or unethical. In another stream of research, I study how concepts and scripts associated with one culture, such as language and communication style, set the precedents that automatically interfere with enacting concepts and scripts associated with another culture. My current work is taking an important step forward to bridge these two streams of research by evaluating the role of self-regulation in cultural essentialism, a source of preference for the precedent culture and resistance to new cultures.

Peer-Reviewed Publications

  • Zhang, S., Cornwell, J.F., & Higgins, E.T. (2013). Repeating the past: Prevention focus motivates repetition, even for unethical decisions. Psychological Science, in press.

    • Highlighted in Psychological Science, 2013. “Crimes and misdemeanors: Is there a slippery slope?”
    • Highlighted in APS Observer, 2014. “Ethical violations: When one thing leads to another”
  • Zhang, S., Morris, M.W., Cheng, C.-Y., & Yap, A.J. (2013). Heritage-culture images disrupt immigrants’ second-language processing through triggering first-language intrusion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 110, 11272-11277.

    • Highlighted in Science, 2013. “Trying to learn a foreign language? Avoid reminders of home.”
    • Highlighted in PNAS, 2013. “Images from home can disrupt foreign lanugage skills.”
    • Commentary in Kroll, J.F., & McClain, R. 2013. What bilinguals tell us about culture, cognition, and language. PNAS, 110: 11219-11220.
    • Media mention in Scientific American, Wall Street Journal, etc.
  • Zhang, S., Higgins, E.T., & Chen, G. (2011). Managing others like you were managed: How prevention focus motivates copying interpersonal norms. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 647-663.

  • Zhang, S., Chen, G., Chen, X.P., Liu, D., & Johnson, M. (2012). Relational versus collective identification within workgroups: Conceptualization, measurement development, and nomological network building. Journal of Management, doi:10.1177/0149206312439421.

  • Liu, D.*, Zhang, S.*, Wang, L., & Lee, T.W. (2011). The effects of autonomy and empowerment on employee turnover: Test of a multilevel model in teams. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96, 1305-1316. (* Equal contribution)

  • Mason, M.F., Zhang, S., & Dyer, R. (2010). Male susceptibility to attentional capture by power cues. Journal of Experimental and Social Psychology, 46, 482-485.

  • Siegel, P., Brockner, J., Wiesenfeld, B., & Zhang, S. (2010). Hedging your bets: Uncertainty about continued success reduces people’s desire for high procedural fairness. Best Paper Proceedings at the Academy of Management Meeting (OB Division), QC. 
  • Zhang, S., & Chen, G. (2004). Decision-making defects and learning strategies in complex systems. Enterprise Management (Chinese Core Journal of Management), 11, 48-51.

  • Zhang, S., & Chen, G. (2004). Leadership styles and career track of Guofan Zeng. Leadership Science (Chinese Core Journal of Management), 24, 36-37.


  • Instructor, Social and Organizational Psychology (Undergraduate), Columbia University, Summer 2013. Teaching evaluations: 4.5 / 5
  • Guest Lecturer, Culture & Multicultural Teams (Master), Columbia University, Fall 2012. Teaching evaluations: 4.6 / 5
  • Trainee, Teaching Practicum, Columbia University, Fall 2012.
  • Teaching Assistant, Columbia University.

    • Managerial Negotiations (EMBA) for Prof Elke Weber Spring 2012
    • Managerial Negotiations (EMBA) for Prof Ko Kuwabara Fall 2011
    • Power & Influence (MBA) for Prof Eric Abrahamson Spring 2009
    • Leadership Development (MBA) for Prof Modupe Akinola Spring 2009
    • Leadership Development (MBA) for Prof Malia Mason Fall 2008
    • Leadership (MBA) for Prof Malia Mason Summer 2008
    • Power & Influence (EMBA) for Prof Eric Abrahamson Spring 2008

Visits since Aug 2010:
Last update: 08/04/2013 22:03:03 -0400