Areas of Expertise (6)
Information Technology and Business Analytics
Women in IT
Social Media Analytics
Nishtha Langer is an associate professor of business analytics at the Lally School of Management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She teaches graduate and undergraduate students on aligning firms’ information technology (IT) strategy and business strategies for sustained competitive advantage, exploring new markets, and enabling grounded management and economic principles through the use of IT and business analytics.
IT’s organizational and societal impact is multidisciplinary and wide-ranging. Professor Langer is deeply influenced by the interdisciplinary research ethic of Herb Simon in “following the problem” in analyzing the value of key IT investments and resources. Her research benefits from her rigorous academic training at Carnegie Mellon University, combined with over five years of IT experience in India and the U.S. Using theory and techniques from different disciplines such as economics, operations management, marketing, analytics, and organizational behavior, she is interested in empirically analyzing how firms can use their IT capital and IT human capital most effectively. More recently, her research examines the biases in IT labor markets and the societal and business value of social media platforms such as Twitter.
Professor Langer's research has been published in top-tier journals, including Management Science, Information Systems Research (ISR), MIS Quarterly, and Journal of Management Information Systems, among others, and widely presented and acclaimed by both academic and industry audiences. Her recent publication examining gender and promotions in the IT industry has been featured on INFORMS’ Resoundingly Human podcast and elsewhere.
Before joining Rensselaer, Professor Langer was an assistant professor of information systems at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. She was also a visiting faculty member at the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to joining Gies, she worked as a systems analyst at Arbella Insurance in Boston, and as a systems engineer at Tata Infotech Ltd. in India (now part of Tata Consultancy Services). She earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Delhi College of Engineering and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Management (with specialization in information systems) from the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University.
Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business: M.S., Information Systems 2003
Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business: Ph.D., Information Systems 2007
Delhi College of Engineering, Delhi, India: B.E. 1997
First Class with Distinction
Media Appearances (5)
Academic Minute - Women in IT
National Public Radio radio
On Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Week: Women in IT jobs face many challenges. Nishtha Langer, assistant professor of business analytics, says despite this, they may be more likely to get promoted than their male counterparts.
How to Future-Proof Your Job Through Career Change
Tech professionals who are interested in transitioning to a tech career where they can work from home on a full-time basis must ensure they have the right skills to be successful. Dr. Nishtha Langer is an assistant professor of Business Analytics in the Lally School of Management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. As well, she has been studying a variety of research topics on IT for more than 20 years, and she has more than five years of IT experience in both India and the U.S. “[Make] sure you have the skills that you need to work in this type of environment because there are challenging environments, there is no guarantee of employment, there could be uncertainty in the projects you are doing, and working from home means that you are traversing a lot of boundaries,” said Dr. Langer. “My own research looks at tactical intelligence, which is basically street smarts. You should be a problem solver.”
The path to success for women in IT
Resoundingly Human podcast online
We’d like to think that our performance at work, regardless of our sex, is the primary deciding factor in deciding whether or not we are recognized for our work with a promotion. You do a good job, you earn recognition, right? Unfortunately, according to new research in the INFORMS journal Information Systems Research in certain fields this might not actually be the case. For this episode I am joined by Nishtha Langer, professor with the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to discuss her study “Onwards and Upwards? An Empirical Investigation of Gender and Promotions in IT Services.”
The Promotion Pathway for Women in Information Technology
WIA Report online
A new study led by Nishtha Langer, an assistant professor of business analytics at the Lally School of Management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, explores how gender affects the likelihood of career advancement in the information technology industry. The researchers analyzed archival promotion data, as well as demographic, human capital, and administrative data for 7,004 employees at a leading IT services firm for the years 2002–2007.
Equal Work, Unequal Growth? Promotions and Recognition for Women in IT
Do women who work in the IT industry face gender bias in promotions? Do performance improvements affect promotions differently for women than they do for men? Are there mechanisms that women can use to climb the organizational ladder faster, or even at the same rate as men? These are the questions that Nishtha Langer addresses in this opinion piece, based on her research with co-authors Ram Gopal and Ravi Bapna. Langer is a professor of business analytics at the Lally School of Management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Onward and Upward? An Empirical Investigation of Gender and Promotions in Information Technology ServicesInformation Systems Research
N. Langer, R.D. Gopal, and R. Bapna
The shaky ascent of women up the organizational ladder is a critical factor that may contribute to the lack of women in information technology (IT). In this study, we examine the effect of gender on the likelihood of employee promotions. We further examine whether women get an equal lift in promotion likelihood from performance improvements, work experience, and training as men. We analyze archival promotion data, as well as demographic, human capital, and administrative data for 7,004 employees at a leading IT services firm located in India for the years 2002–2007 and for multiple levels of promotion. We develop robust econometric models that consider employee heterogeneity to identify the differential effect of gender and performance on promotions. We find that, contrary to expectations, women are more likely to be promoted, on average. However, looking deeper into the heterogeneous main effects using hierarchical Bayesian modeling reveals more nuanced insights. We find that, ceteris paribus, women realize less benefit from performance gains than men, less benefit from tenure within the focal firm, but more benefit from training than men. These results suggest that despite the disparity in returns to performance and experience improvements, women can rely on signaling mechanisms such as training to restore parity in promotions. We find that the effects of gender and performance vary with the level of employee promotion; although not as much as men, women benefit more from performance gains at higher organizational levels. Our findings suggest several actionable managerial insights that can potentially make IT firms more inclusive and attractive to women.
Inclusion is not a Slam Dunk: A Study of Discrimination in Leadership within the Context of AthleticsThe Leadership Quarterly
W.G. Obenauer and N. Langer
Racial bias continues to act as one of the most thought provoking and controversial topics in our society. Even as organizations implement steps and policies to minimize discriminatory practices, evidence of bias in organizational decision-making persists. While much research has been devoted to the study of racial bias in hiring and promotion decisions, this study focuses on the effect of biases on employment outcomes of minority leaders after they have been hired or promoted to leadership positions that are comparable in quality to those of their white peers (i.e. no glass cliff present). More specifically, we investigate how discrimination influences performance rewards and employment separation decisions pertaining to minority leaders. The study uses archival data from the National Basketball Association collected from the year 2003 to 2015. From this data set, we utilize measures of head coaches' objective performance, reward allocation, and their likelihood of employment separation to find limited support for the hypotheses that minority leaders are given less time in position to achieve success and that when they do achieve success, they may be less likely than white leaders to be recognized for their accomplishments. Our findings suggest that in addition to researching selection processes, understanding why racial minorities are underrepresented in leadership positions also requires insight into the employment outcomes experienced by minority leaders.
Impact of Formal Controls on Client Satisfaction and Profitability in Strategic Outsourcing ContractsJournal of Management Information Systems
N. Langer and D. Mani.
The reach and impact of outsourcing has grown rapidly to include a variety of strategic objectives. Significant issues of cooperation and coordination in strategic outsourcing necessitate investments in formal controls that specify and monitor execution of the outsourced task to mitigate unforeseen contingencies and improve predictability in the attainment of desirable goals. In this study, we investigate the nature of formal controls in strategic outsourcing contracts and their impact on client satisfaction and financial performance. Specifically, using rich field data on 390 strategic outsourcing contracts, we examine the differential impact of output controls, activity controls, and capability controls on client satisfaction and vendor profitability. We find that activity and capability controls are positively associated with client satisfaction and profitability; in contrast, output controls differentially impact satisfaction and profitability, reflecting potential tradeoffs between the two outcomes. Our results, in addition to contributing to the research in control theory, provide actionable insights for technology vendors into the appropriate strategy and tactics required to compete efficiently and effectively in strategic services markets.
Does Whom You Know Matter? Unraveling the Influence of Peers’ Network Attributes on Academic Performance.Economic Inquiry
T. Jain and N. Langer
This paper examines how students' network size, distance, prestige, and connections to influential individuals impact academic performance. Larger and closer networks facilitate information exchange, but may also increase distractions that decrease productivity. We resolve this ambiguity using administrative data from a business school that features random assignment of students to multiple overlapping sets of peers, allowing us to calculate degree, closeness, eigenvector, and Katz‐Bonacich centrality for each node. We find that increasing closeness centrality within the network negatively affects student performance measured by grade point average, suggesting that synergy reduction and information processing costs outweigh benefits from greater information access.
Project Managers' Practical Intelligence and Project Performance in Software Offshore Outsourcing: A Field Study.Information Systems Research
N. Langer, S.A. Slaughter, and T. Mukhopadhyay
This study examines the role of project managers' (PM) practical intelligence (PI) in the performance of software offshore outsourcing projects. Based on the extant literature, we conceptualize PI for PMs as their capability to resolve project related work problems, given their long-range and short-range goals; PI is targeted at resolving unexpected and difficult situations, which often cannot be resolved using established processes and frameworks. We then draw on the information processing literature to argue that software offshore outsourcing projects are prone to severe information constraints that lead to unforeseen critical incidents that must be resolved adequately for the projects to succeed. We posit that PMs can use PI to effectively address and resolve such incidents, and therefore the level of PMs' PI positively affects project performance. We further theorize that project complexity and familiarity contribute to its information constraints and the likelihood of critical incidents in a project, thereby moderating the relationship between PMs' PI and project performance.
Human Capital Investments and Employee Performance: An Analysis of IT Services IndustryManagement Science
Ravi Bapna, Nishtha Langer, Amit Mehra, Ram Gopal, Alok Gupta
The rapid pace of technological innovation necessitates that information technology (IT) services firms continually invest in replenishing the skills of their key asset base, the human capital. We examine whether human capital investments directed toward employee training are effective in improving employee performance. Our rich employee level panel data set affords us the opportunity to link formal training with performance at the individual employee level. Using a dynamic panel model, we identify a significant positive impact of training on employee performance. A unit increase in training is linked to a 2.14% increase in an employee's performance. Interestingly, we find that in the IT sector, skills atrophy and consequently high-experience employees reap higher returns from training, which highlights the uniquely dynamic nature of IT knowledge and skills. We also find that general training that an employee can utilize outside the focal firm improves employee performance. However, specific training pertinent to the focal firm is not positively linked to performance. On the other hand, although domain and technical training both enhance employee performance individually, the interaction between the two suggests a substitutive relationship. Thus, our findings suggest that the value of training is conditional on a focused curricular approach that emphasizes a structured competency development program. Our findings have both theoretical and practical significance. Most important, they justify increased human capital investments to fuel future growth in this important component of the global economy.