NUS Business School professor Sam Yam recognised as top early career scientist in behavioural science

Singapore — Associate Professor Sam Yam Kai Chi from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School has been recognised as a rising star in the fields of organisational behaviour and psychological science, winning two of the most prestigious international awards for his early-career contributions.

The Association for Psychological Science (APS), which represents more than 30,000 researchers from over 80 countries, has named Assoc Prof Yam the recipient of its 2022 Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions. Widely regarded as the most prestigious early career award in psychology, past winners have gone on to become endowed chaired full professors in institutions like Harvard, Stanford and Yale.

Assoc Prof Yam is also the recipient of the 2022 Distinguished Early Career Contributions – Science Award from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP). Awarded by the premier professional association for the scientific study of the workplace, this award is widely regarded by academics as the most prestigious early career award in organisational behaviour and human resources (OBHR).

Both awards are given for the entire body of work in an academic’s early career, defined as a period of seven years from the time he or she receives a PhD. They recognise the quality and quantity of research work, while also highlighting the impact the work has had on society.

Assoc Prof Yam’s research interests include leadership, business ethics, and the future of work. His recent studies on leadership provided a fine-grained analysis on how the pandemic has affected political leaders’ support across the world, with significant implications for the outcome of elections. He also studies companies’ responsibilities towards society, highlighting the importance of building a positive social image, as well as the pitfalls of not having a good corporate citizenship strategy.

Assoc Prof Yam said, “When we study how people behave in groups or the psychology behind that behaviour, we can better understand the psychology of management. My research helps leaders identify implicit biases, and guides them on how to better attract and retain talent, as well as drive organisational performance and growth. These insights are all the more relevant in today’s world, where the pandemic and shifting social and technological norms are rapidly changing how we work.”

In 2016, Assoc Prof Yam was named one of the 40 best business professors under the age of 40 by the United States ranking website Poets and Quants. He was also the youngest on that year’s list of lauded professors, including those from Harvard, Yale and Oxford. In 2017, he was named a Rising Star by the Association for Psychological Science. He has published 49 research papers, of which over half appeared in top-tier organisational behaviour and psychology journals. He has also received multiple best paper awards from the Academy of Management.

Assoc Prof Yam joined NUS Business School in 2015 and is now Dean’s Chair and Assistant Dean (Faculty Development) at the school. He is also the Deputy Head of the Department of Management & Organisation and holds a courtesy appointment in the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences’ Department of Psychology. He is passionate in teaching and has actively translated his research findings to the classroom. In 2019 and 2021, he received the NUS Business School Teaching Excellence Award.

Holding a PhD in Organisational Behaviour from the University of Washington, Assoc Prof Yam said, “I am indebted to all my mentors, as well as numerous co-authors and NUS PhD students who have collaborated with me. I also thank NUS for providing tremendous resources, such as funding, time, and senior mentors, for me to be successful. I hope to expose more students to organisational behaviour and psychological science research and train a generation of researchers in these fields in Singapore.”

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