Face-Threatening Questions in Earnings Calls: First Analyst and Firm Status Effects on Subsequent Analysts Questions

event calendar icon

11 Oct 2023

09:00 -10:30

Times are shown in local time.

Open to: Members of the University of Cambridge

event map pin icon

Room W2.01 (Cambridge Judge Business School)

Trumpington St



United Kingdom

Join our Organisational Behaviour seminar

Speaker: Professor Alexandra Gerbasi, University of Exeter

About the seminar topic

Organisational Behaviour.

Earnings conference calls are high-stakes, high-visibility settings where executives work to claim (present) a positive ‘face’ (image) for the organisation. Yet, the face is not solely determined by executives. After providing opening remarks, executives engage with analysts in a question and answer (Q&A) session, during which analysts can attempt to extract information executives did not willingly provide in their opening remarks to help them make accurate earnings forecasts.

Different linguistic features may help analysts to extract this information. In particular, using challenging questions (i.e., challenging questions that are difficult to answer) helps reveal information but threatens the face of the conversational partner. Attacking the organisation’s face may have long-term consequences for analysts, including losing access to management, which can undermine their effectiveness. Thus, analysts are faced with the difficult task of how to question management. To this point, analysts’ questioning behaviour has been explained by examining firm- and call-level factors such as management’s remarks and company performance. We are shifting the focus by analysing peer effects that occur within earning conference calls.

Specifically, we are examining the effects of the first analyst’s questioning behaviour on the questioning behaviour of subsequent analysts. We aim to disentangle the moderating role of peer status in the spread (or amplification) of verbal aggressive questioning behaviour within conference calls.

Speaker bio

Alexandra Gerbasi joined the University of Exeter in 2017. Previously, she has held posts at the University of Surrey, Grenoble Ecole de Management and California State University, Northridge. She received her PhD in sociology from Stanford University and her undergraduate degree in history from Duke University.

Her research focuses on the effects of positive and negative network ties within the workplace, and their effects on performance, leadership, well-being, thriving, affect and turnover. In addition, her research addresses how individuals recognise opportunities for collaboration and advancement in their networks. Her research has appeared in Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, Journal of Organizational Behavior, The Leadership Quarterly, Social Psychology Quarterly, and Organizational Dynamics. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and Agence Nationale de la Recherche.


If you would like to register, or know more about this event, please email Luke Slater.