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October 24, 2002 Marylène Gagné wins first Junior Researcher Award



Marylène Gagné

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj


by Brad Hunter

Maryène Gagné is the first recipient of the Distinguished Junior Researcher Award, a new honour established by the John Molson School of Business (JMSB) to recognize and retain promising junior faculty.

“I look at this award as a nice pat on the back,” said Gagné, an assistant professor in the JMSB’s Department of Management. “In the type of work we do as academics, you don’t often get positive feedback like this, so it’s very satisfying to be recognized with this award, especially so early in my career.”

Danielle Morin, associate dean at the JMSB and organizer of the Distinguished Junior Researcher Award, said several aspects of Gagné’s work in organizational behaviour caught the attention of the selection committee. Along with Gagné’s publication record, the committee was impressed by her research accomplishments, particularly since she only finished her PhD in social psychology three years ago.

“The work she is doing in organizational behaviour and motivation is becoming an increasingly important area of study in management,” Morin said. “As well, she has shown a great deal of initiative. She’s already been quite successful in obtaining external funding, and she is very active in the department with things like supervising students.”

Organizational behaviour concerns how people function in the workplace, both individually and in teams; researchers study such factors as motivation, attitudes, and group dynamics.

“Basically, what I do is look at how an organization manages its people, how this management affects motivation, and how motivation affects performance,” Gagné said.

A particular area of interest for her is the difference between intrinsic motivation (performing a task because you enjoy doing it) and extrinsic motivation, where tasks are performed solely to receive a reward or avoid punishment.

She is currently examining how organizations can use intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to encourage employees to go beyond their job descriptions and perform extra tasks voluntarily.
Gagné joined the John Molson School of Business in June 2001 after leaving the University at Albany, State University of New York, where she was an assistant professor in industrial/organizational psychology. It was an easy decision to return to Quebec.

“The extensive contacts the business school has give me much better access to organizations to do my research, which is something I was really looking forward to when I came here,” she said.

“I also benefit from the experience of my more senior colleagues with in-depth knowledge in areas like finance, marketing and other fields, which gives me a much better understanding of what goes on in the business world. I’m learning a lot.”

She has also discovered that working in a business school gives her instant credibility with organizations she approaches regarding research opportunities.

Being in Montreal presents “endless” research possibilities because of the sheer number of companies located in the region.

Although Gagné has not made a final decision on how she will use the $5,000 grant that comes with the research award, she said it’s likely the money will be used to continue an ongoing study into what’s known as social loafing.

“Social loafing is when people work in a group and put in less effort than they would have if they were working alone,” she explained.

“Right now, I’m looking at the role intrinsic and extrinsic motivation plays in this.”The Distinguished Junior Researcher Award will be presented to Gagné at convocation on June 13.

The selection committee has given honourable mention to Khaled Soufani, an assistant professor in the Department of Finance.