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Steven Karau

Steven Karau, Gregory A. Lee Professor of Management

Steve Karau teaches courses in organizational behavior and human resources. He conducts research on a range of organizational behavior issues, with a special focus on motivation within groups, team performance, ethical issues in management, gender differences in leadership, and personality. He has published more than 40 articles in a variety of top management and psychology journals, including the Journal of Business Ethics, the Journal of Business Research, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Psychological Bulletin, and Psychological Review, and his articles are frequently cited by other scholars. He is probably best known for his theoretical contributions as co-developer of the Collective Effort Model of individual motivation on group tasks (with Kip Williams of Purdue University) and Role Congruity Theory of prejudice toward female leaders (with Alice Eagly of Northwestern University).

Professor Karau’s research has received media coverage from a variety of sources, including local television and radio, the APA Monitor, the Wall Street Journal, and the primetime ABC News program 20/20. The 20/20 program highlighted Karau’s more than 20 years of research on "social loafing," which is a tendency for people to reduce their efforts when working in a group compared to when they work individually. For the program, Karau conducted several brief replications of classic experiments on social loafing while camera crews filmed the action.

Dr. Karau received his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Purdue University. Before coming to SIU, Karau previously taught at the University of Toledo, Clemson University, and Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Karau says he chose SIU for its blend of high quality research resources, diligent students, and friendly, relaxed environment.

Steven Karau

Office: Rehn Hall, 211A
Phone: 618-453-7890


  • Motivation losses and gains in groups
  • Group dynamics and team performance
  • Ethical issues in management
  • Gender differences in leadership
  • Individual differences in organizational behavior and academic motivation


Karau, S. J. (Editor) (2020). Individual motivation within groups: Social loafing and motivation gains in work, academic, and sports teams. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Karau, S. J., & Wilhau, A. J. (2020). Social loafing and motivation gains in groups: An integrative review. In S. J. Karau (Ed.) Individual motivation within groups: Social loafing and motivation gains in work, academic, and sports teams (pp. 3-51). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Byun, G., Lee, S., Karau, S. J., Dai, Y. (2020). The trickle-down effect of empowering leadership: A boundary condition of performance pressure. Leadership and Organization Development Journal, 41, 399-414.

Byun, G., Karau, S. J., Dai. Y., & Lee, S. (2018). A three-level examination of the cascading effects of ethical leadership on employee outcomes: A moderated mediation analysis. Journal of Business Research, 88, 44-53.

Karau, S. J., & Williams, K. D. (2017). Social facilitation and social loafing: Revisiting Triplett’s competition studies. In J. R. Smith & S. A. Haslam (Eds.), Social psychology: Revisiting the classic studies (2nd edition, pp. 11-26). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Walker, S. C., & Karau, S. J. (2016). The influence of nonconscious processes on perceptions of downsizing and terminations. Journal of Social Psychology, 156, 397-412.

Jia, H. H., Jia, R., & Karau, S. J. (2013). Cyberloafing and personality: The impact of the Big Five traits and workplace situational factors. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, 20, 358-365.

Smrt, D. L., & Karau, S. J. (2011). Protestant work ethic moderates social loafing. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 15, 267-274.

Komarraju, M., Karau, S. J., Schmeck, R. R., & Avdic, A. (2011). The Big Five personality traits, learning styles, and academic achievement. Personality and Individual Differences, 51, 472-477.

Karau, S. J., & Elsaid, A. M. M. K. (2009). Individual differences in beliefs about groups. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 13, 1-13.

Wood, M. S., & Karau, S. J. (2009). Preserving employee dignity during the termination interview: An empirical examination. Journal of Business Ethics, 86, 519-534.

Komarraju, M., Karau, S. J., & Schmeck, R. R. (2009). Role of the Big Five personality traits in predicting college students’ academic motivation and achievement. Learning and Individual Differences, 19, 47-52.