A Strong Accent on Service

For his investigation of job performance evaluations of migrants in service jobs, organizational researcher Prof Dr Florian Kunze has received an award for international research papers, presented by the Academy of Management division on “Organizational Behavior”.

Most people feel they can realize in seconds whether somebody they meet is “not from around here”. Besides visual appearances, which can easily lead amiss, the most important factor here is language, as it is very hard for non-native speakers to overcome speaking with an accent. Customers will thus quickly notice if a service employee is a migrant. Even short interactions on the job may then lead to discrimination.

"The Politics of Inequality" PI Florian Kunze and his colleague Dr. David Dwertmann (Rutgers School of Business) took the example of service employees in a large logistics company to investigate how customers react to having their mail delivered by migrants. They compared the behavior of customer groups with low and high shares of migrants and asked: how much are service employees discriminated against by different groups of customers? Do customers who are migrants themselves complain more – or less? Is there such a thing as an encompassing, supra-national “migrant social identity”? Kunze and Dwertmann tackled these questions by analyzing demographic data of employees and customer groups and comparing with customer complaints about more than 14,000 delivery personnel.

The results of the unpublished study will be made publicly available in the near future. They have now been presented for the first time at the Academy of Management (AOM) 79th annual meeting in Boston, USA. Each year, approximately 7,000 organization and management researchers present their findings here.

At this meeting, Kunze and Dwertmann have received the Best Paper with International Implications Award in the division “Organizational Behavior”. The division currently has 6,000 members from 65 countries and hands out six awards at AOM annual meetings. The Best Paper with International Implications Award is granted for studies that provide excellent new insight in business and management practice outside the U.S.

Moreover, the study was one of five finalists for the prestigious Carolyn Dexter Award, which the AOM annually grants to the best international research paper.


  • The Best Paper with International Implications Award is annually awarded for the best research paper on business and management practices outside the U.S. by the division for “Organizational Behavior”.
  • Award-winning publication (unpublished as of yet): David Dwertmann, Florian Kunze (2019): More than Meets the Eye: The Role of Migration Background for Social Identity Effects. Best Paper Proceedings, Academy of Management Conference.
  • Prof. Dr. Florian Kunze is Professor of Organisational Studies, Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Konstanz, as well as Principal Investigator at the Konstanz Cluster of Excellence „The Politics of Inequality“.
  • Dr. David Dwertmann is Assistant Professor of Management at Rutgers School of Business in Camden, NJ.
  • The Academy of Management was founded in 1936 as the scientific society of organizational and management research. It currently has approximately 20,000 members worldwide, with its main office in New York publishing several highly regarded journals.