Moore School accounting Ph.D. student Grazia Xiong has decided to focus her dissertation topic on workplace giving to understand how charitable incentives motivate employees and how to add value to their meaning of work and society.
From Xi’an, China, Xiong received her Bachelor of Arts in Italian Language and Culture Studies from Xi’an International Studies University in 2010. She later went on to obtain her Master of Science in Accounting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2016.
Xiong said she decided to further her studies in accounting because the subject provides a perfect balance between people and numbers. She said its ability to facilitate and influence decision-making in the business world fascinates her. When she came across the Moore School accounting Ph.D. program, she said it seemed like the perfect fit for her as she would have the opportunity to further explore a topic about which she is passionate.
“At the Moore School, we have highly productive and well-respected accounting scholars,” Xiong said. “The opportunity to learn from world-class scholars such as my advisor [Drew Newman] and to call them ‘mentors’ is invaluable. In fact, in 2020, South Carolina was ranked No. 3 in experimental accounting research worldwide.”
Since enrolling in the Moore School Ph.D. program, Xiong has also chosen to concentrate her dissertation topic around workplace giving. Workplace giving is when employees donate their time or money for charitable purposes with explicit employer endorsement such as paid volunteer time off or corporate gift matching.
“Specifically, I am interested in the behavioral effects of the nature of employees’ compensation contracts on both their workplace giving and work performance,” she said. “I decided on this topic because I have always been interested in how to better motivate employees, how to increase the meaning of work and how to add value to others and the society through our everyday effort choices.”
Xiong said she found the topic of workplace giving interesting because it is of growing importance around the globe, yet little is understood about its behavioral implications on individual employees.
“I want to contribute to this scientific conversation while hopefully also offering useful insights to organizations regarding implementing and managing workplace giving programs,” she said.
Through her research, Xiong hopes to show how monetary and non-monetary incentives are both critical aspects of work design because they influence our productivity, creativity and commitment.
“The real-world application of my research is to provide meaningful insights that can help firms design their incentive systems in order to maximize productivity while contributing to the greater good of our society above and beyond monetary measures.”
Xiong said her experience developing a dissertation topic in the Ph.D. program has been a very rewarding and empowering experience.
“Over the past four years, I have started multiple new research projects and was able to collaborate with senior co-authors who are experts in their field,” she said. “Learning from respected and thoughtful scholars on a daily basis is very motivating.”
After graduation in May 2022, Xiong said she wants to obtain a tenure-track position from a research institution that values behavioral accounting research. She hopes that she can continue to add value to academia through rigorous research and service while teaching the next generation of accountants.
“In 10 years, I hope to help train the next generation of accounting scholars and repay the investment that is being invested in me today at the Moore School,” she said.