Yixuan Li
Assistant Professor of Management Yixuan Li

University of Florida management professor receives NSF CAREER Award

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Assistant Professor of Management Yixuan Li is among the latest recipients of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award, the research foundation’s most prestigious award that supports early-career faculty.

Li is the first faculty member from the UF Warrington College of Business to receive the award, earning nearly half a million dollars in research funding for her project, “Leveraging Unified Diversity through Human Resource Management.”

Li’s research project focuses on a critical challenge in today’s increasingly diverse workplace – how organizations navigate the tension between diversity and unity. While most research focuses on one of these aspects at a time, either the differences among organizational members (diversity) or organizational oneness (unity), Li’s innovative project will study the diversity-unity paradox.

“In order for organizations to progress they need both informational diversity, which is differences in member knowledge bases and perspectives, and organizational unity, in which members have a perception of oneness,” Li explained. “Together, they enable organizations to have an enriched knowledge reservoir and concerted actions among members.”

Li’s study will introduce the concept of unified diversity, which captures an organization’s ability to elicit diverse viewpoints and perspectives while simultaneously sustaining oneness. Through this research, Li’s work will highlight ways in which organizations can harmonize diversity and unity, guiding individuals, organizations, and broader societal entities on how to harness unified diversity to enhance learning and maintain a competitive edge in the contemporary business landscape.

Over the next five years, Li will complete a series of studies for theoretical development and empirical testing, including qualitative interviews, computational modeling, and qualitative and quantitative survey studies.

In the first phase of her research, she’ll conduct qualitative interviews with professional HR managers to establish a clear conceptualization of unified diversity. In the second phase, Li will use computational modeling and qualitative surveys with HR professionals to understand the joint function of diversity and unity. In the third phase, Li will use multi-wave survey data from HR professionals and employees to examine antecedents and outcomes for unified diversity in order to clarify organizational dynamics that lead to and result from unified diversity.

The set of findings will help pinpoint effective management practices and organizational designs that promote unified diversity.

With a research focus on diversity management – the intersection of diversity, equity and inclusion with strategic human resource management – Li is looking forward to the theoretical implications of her work as well as the practical insights for organizations.

“I view this award as both a recognition of my work and a resource that facilitates my ongoing research,” Li said. “This award will not only advance the development of my research pipeline but also allow me to disseminate findings to a broader audience to enhance practical impacts.”