UCL School of Management

Research seminar

Kai Chi (Sam) Yam National University of Singapore


Sam Yam, National University of Singapore Business School


Wednesday, 17 July 2019
11:00 – 12:30
Research Group
Strategy and Entrepreneurship

UCL School of Management is delighted to welcome Sam Yam, National University of Singapore Business School,  to host a research seminar discussing ‘How do employees and customers perceive and interact with robots and machines? Archival, qualitative, experience sampling, and experimental field evidence from India, Japan, and the United States’.


I will present a number of working projects in this talk. In the first project, I will present studies that explore the link between exposure to robots and machines and its impact on job insecurity and downstream behavioral implications. Using archival data from 185 metro areas in the United States, I find that areas with the highest rates of automation also have the highest rates of job site searches. A pre-registered experiment replicated the effect of exposure to automation/robots on greater job insecurity. Finally, in an experience sampling study conducted in an automobile manufacturing company in India, I find that daily adoption of artificial intelligence and robot is positively associated with a sense of job insecurity, which then leads to daily burnout and work withdrawal.

In the second project, I will present some contrasting qualitative and quantitative evidence on the interaction between robots/machines and employees. In a qualitative study conducted in the world’s first robot-staffed hotel in Japan (http://www.h-n-h.jp/en/), contrary to my expectations, employees react with extreme positivity towards their robot colleagues. In a follow-up quantitative test of the model developed from our qualitative study, I find that robots in the workplace is more of a mixed blessing. On the one hand, daily interaction with robots leads to greater work-goal progress, which then leads to great job performance. On the other hand, however, interaction with robots also leads to greater self-esteem threat and reduces task performance, especially for employees with high core self-evaluation.

In a final, preliminary project, I will present two pre-registered experimental field studies conducted in the same hotel in Japan. I find that not all robots are created equal, and customers reported significantly lower satisfaction with humanoid robots compared to non-humanoid robots. Another experimental field study furthermore reveals that imbuing robots with human agency can significantly affect how customers perceive and respond to service failures and successes – human agency reduces satisfaction with robots when they succeed but mitigates dissatisfaction when robots fail. Theoretical and practical implications will be discussed.  


Sam Yam is an Assistant Professor of Management at the National University of Singapore Business School. He received his Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior, with a focus on Business Ethics, from the University of Washington. He also holds an M.A. in Child Development and an M.S. in Organizational Behavior. Sam’s research focuses primarily on behavioral ethics, leadership, and humor. His work has been published in outlets such as Academy of Management AnnalsAcademy of Management JournalAcademy of Management ReviewJournal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Personality and Social PsychologyOrganizational Behavioral and Human Decision Processes, and Personnel Psychology.

Open to
Last updated Tuesday, 9 July 2019