You are what you put on display: Byron’s research examining personalized workspaces to appear in Academy of Management Journal


Research co-authored by Kris Byron, associate professor and chair of the Department of Management at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, and Greg Laurence, an assistant professor of management at the University of Michigan, Flint, has been accepted for publication by the Academy of Management Journal.

The paper, titled, “Diplomas, Photos, & Tchotchkes As Symbolic Self-Representations: Understanding Employees’ Individual Use Of Symbols,” examines, through interviews, workspace inventories and observations, employees’ tendency to personalize their workspaces with photos, memorabilia and other objects—even when rules prohibit it—and what this practice tells us about an individual’s self-expression, and work relationships.  

According to the researchers, “…these objects symbolize who employees are and who they want to be. Through these symbolic self-representations, employees find common ground through shared non-work experiences, establish a common understanding of work roles, and share personal information about the self—all of which contribute to relationship development at work. Additionally, they focus attention on goals and establish a desired boundary between work and non-work ­ both of which contribute to employees self-regulation.”

Byron, who received her PhD from Georgia State University, is a 2012-2014 Whitman fellow and an affiliated faculty with the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University. Laurence received his MA (2004) from Syracuse’s Maxwell School, and his MBA (2003) and PhD (2011) degrees from the Whitman School of Management.