​Interdependence Promotes the Strengths of Employees from Working-Class Contexts
TWCF Number
Project Duration
May 1 / 2017
- June 15 / 2019
Core Funding Area
Big Questions
North America
Amount Awarded
Grant DOI*

* A Grant DOI (digital object identifier) is a unique, open, global, persistent and machine-actionable identifier for a grant.

Nicole Stephens
Institution Northwestern University

This project builds on the idea of intelligence as a set of competencies that develops based on the skills necessary to be effective in a given environment. In particular, Dr. Nicole Stephens’s team will focus on the strengths that people from working-class contexts bring to a professional workplace environment.

The team hypothesizes that people from working-class contexts may be competent in different ways from those in conventional professional settings. Settings that match their interdependent skills might better serve people from working-class backgrounds. They also hypothesize that employees from working-class contexts will experience greater fit and performance in organizations that expose them to interdependence rather than independence. Specifically, these employees will benefit from the degree to which they are exposed to interdependence in: (a) the overarching culture of the organization, and (b) their roles, reward structures, and daily activities within the organization.

To test these hypotheses, the team will survey professional employees at two organizations with different levels of independence and interdependence. They will assess employees’ social class contexts and cultural models of self, their organization’s culture, and their professional experiences and performance. They will present our findings at academic conferences and publish them in academic journals. This project might lead to interventions that can help diverse organizations leverage the interdependent forms of competence common among their employees from working-class contexts.

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