Anjali M. Bhatt

PhD Program, Organizational Behavior
PhD Program Office
Graduate School of Business
Stanford University
655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305

Anjali M. Bhatt

Research Statement
Broadly, I am interested in how cultural diversity is enabled and sustained in organizational settings. My dissertation examines the dynamics of cultural transmission and boundary work between organizations and ensuing consequences for cultural diversity. Methodologically, I study these topics using a variety of computational methods, including both natural language processing and agent-based modeling.
Research Interests
Organizational Culture
Diversity & Inequality
Computational Social Science

Job Market Paper

Cultural Code Switching in a Post-Merger Organization
What explains differences in how individual employees culturally adapt following an organizational merger? While prior research on post-merger integration has largely focused on organizational characteristics that foreshadow post-merger cultural dynamics and performance, this paper explores individual-level variation in cultural adaptation following mergers. I propose that individuals’ post-merger cultural adaptation—specifically, the tendency to switch cultural codes—can be explained by the combination of their pre-merger conformity, which reflects their dexterity with perceiving and enacting multiple cultural codes, and their social status, which determines the incentives to code switching. I test these ideas by applying the tools of computational linguistics to a unique dataset of 1.5 million employee emails, personnel records, and qualitative interviews from an organizational merger of two U.S. regional banks. I develop a novel approach to measuring cultural code switching by exploiting a machine learning classifier to categorize the linguistic styles of messages as either breaching or conforming to existing cultural codes. Consistent with predictions, across five theoretically distinct sources of status, I find that lower status individuals are more likely to culturally code switch than higher status individuals. Moreover, greater pre-merger conformity is associated with higher rates of cultural code switching for low status individuals, but lower rates of code switching for high status individuals. I discuss implications for status-based theories of cultural boundary work, socialization processes in polycultural contexts, and post-merger cultural dynamics.
Working Papers
Cultural Carriers: A Model of Cultural Variation in Organizational Populations
What explains the diversity of organizational cultures in populations of organizations? While research on culture has made significant strides in understanding intra-organizational cultural processes, it has largely taken for granted the existence of variation in cultures across organizations. In this paper, I develop a formal model to understand cultural variation in populations as a function of demographic processes and cultural transmission both within and between organizations. Bridging cultural processes of worker recruitment, socialization, and turnover with labor market mechanisms, the model conceptualizes individuals as ‘cultural carriers’ that move between firms. Based on agent-based simulations of this model, I find that population-level dynamics have significant and surprising consequences, often disrupting the intentions of organization-level practices. For example, while intense managerial cultural practices may be effective at sorting individuals into culturally distinct organizations, less intense adoption of the same practices can significantly diminish cultural boundaries between organizations. Moreover, individual mobility may lead to inter-firm dynamics that are more effective at increasing cultural homogeneity within organizations than managerial attempts in isolated firms. Finally, the simulation findings differentiate the conditions that produce cultural strength versus cultural distinctiveness and suggest that the two should be thought of as different firm objectives.
Last Updated 16 Sep 2019