Serenity S. Lee

Serenity S. Lee
  • Doctoral Student

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    2057 SH-DH
    3620 Locust Walk
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: identity, the social self, positive relationships, humanizing work


I study Organizational Behavior with an interest in the interplay of workers’ identities and the work context. In particular, my research focuses on when and why workers experience identity collisions and how they navigate such circumstances to beneficial or harmful effect. I use both qualitative and quantitative methods (i.e., interviews, surveys, and experiments) in my work.

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

Continue Reading


  • 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.