Serenity S. Lee

Serenity S. Lee
  • Doctoral Student

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    2057 SH-DH
    3620 Locust Walk
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: identity, roles, relationships, work/nonwork, diversity

Links: Google Scholar


I study Organizational Behavior with an interest in how we (don’t) bring our “selves” to work. My research focuses on when and why workers experience identity tensions, often in response to workplace norms and expectations, and how they navigate such circumstances to beneficial or harmful effect. For instance, I have studied how minority employees face a dilemma in expressing their racial identity at work, how people react to situations that unexpectedly blur personal/professional boundaries with coworkers, and how organizational changes can catalyze identity work processes. I enjoy using both qualitative and quantitative methods (i.e., interviews, surveys, and experiments) in my research.

Prior to Wharton, I was a research associate in the Organizational Behavior unit at Harvard Business School and worked as a conflict resolution facilitator. I received my BA with honors in Psychology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

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  • Nancy Rothbard, Lakshmi Ramarajan, Ariane Ollier-Malaterre, Serenity Lee (2022), OMG! My Boss Just Friended Me: How Evaluations of Colleagues’ Disclosure, Gender, and Rank Shape Personal/Professional Boundary Blurring Online, Academy of Management Journal, 65, pp. 35-65.

    Abstract: We propose and test a relational boundary blurring framework, examining how employees’ evaluations of colleagues’ characteristics drive their decisions to connect with colleagues as friends online. We use a multi-method approach across four studies to investigate how self-disclosure of personal information, gender, and (a)symmetric rank shape warmth evaluations of colleagues and subsequent boundary blurring decisions on online social networks such as Facebook. Study 1, a large archival study using a nationally representative sample, shows that connecting as friends with colleagues online is prevalent. Study 2, examining employees across several industries, shows that people experience connecting as friends with colleagues online as boundary blurring. Two experimental studies show that employees are more likely to connect as friends online with colleagues who engage in more (rather than less) self-disclosure and are less likely to connect with bosses (rather than peers). Further, self-disclosure, gender, and rank interact such that employees are more likely to connect with female bosses who disclose more compared to those who disclose less and compared to male bosses, regardless of self-disclosure. Our work contributes to boundary management research by demonstrating that employees’ decisions to blur the personal/professional boundary online crucially depends on whom they are blurring the boundary with.

  • Courtney McCluney, Myles Durkee, Richard Smith, Kathrina Robotham, Serenity Lee (2021), To be, or not to be… Black: The effects of racial codeswitching on perceived professionalism in the workplace, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 97.

    Abstract: Black people engage in a variety of behaviors to avoid stereotyping and promote a professional image in the workplace. Racial codeswitching is one impression management strategy where Black people adjust their self-presentation to receive desirable outcomes (e.g., perceived professionalism) through mirroring the norms, behaviors, and attributes of the dominant group (i.e., White people) in specific contexts. In this study, we examine whether racial codeswitching enhances perceived professionalism for Black employees. We investigate Black and White participants' perceptions of racial codeswitching and subsequent evaluations of professionalism through manipulating three behaviors (e.g., adjusting style of speech, name selection, hairstyle) of a fictitious Black coworker in two, between-subjects experimental studies using audio and written stimuli. Results indicate that employees who engage in racial codeswitching are consistently perceived as more professional by both Black and White participants compared to employees who do not codeswitch (Studies 1 & 2). We also found that Black participants perceive the non-codeswitching employee as more professional than White participants (Studies 2a & 2b). Black and White participants' evaluation of specific codeswitching behaviors varied with both groups supporting adjustment of speech, opposing adjusting one's name, and diverging on wearing natural hairstyles (Studies 1 & 2). Although racial codeswitching is presented as an impression management strategy, it may reinforce White professional standards and generate social and psychological costs for Black employees. Implications of our work for impression management and impression formation are further discussed.

  • Courtney McCluney, Kathrina Robotham, Serenity Lee, Richard Smith, Myles Durkee, The Costs of Code-Switching in Harvard Business Review.

    Abstract: The behavior is necessary for advancement — but it takes a great psychological toll.


Current Courses (Spring 2024)

  • MGMT1010 - Intro To Management

    We all spend much of our lives in organizations. Most of us are born in organizations, educated in organizations, and work in organizations. Organizations emerge because individuals can't (or don't want to) accomplish their goals alone. Management is the art and science of helping individuals achieve their goals together. Managers in an organization determine where their organization is going and how it gets there. More formally, managers formulate strategies and implement those strategies. This course provides a framework for understanding the opportunities and challenges involved in formulating and implementing strategies by taking a "system" view of organizations,which means that we examine multiple aspects of how managers address their environments, strategy, structure, culture, tasks, people, and outputs, and how managerial decisions made in these various domains interrelate. The course will help you to understand and analyze how managers can formulate and implement strategies effectively. It will be particularly valuable if you are interested in management consulting, investment analysis, or entrepreneurship - but it will help you to better understand and be a more effective contributor to any organizations you join, whether they are large, established firms or startups. This course must be taken for a grade.

    MGMT1010202 ( Syllabus )

    MGMT1010204 ( Syllabus )