Nathan Black

Nathan Black, PhD student, management and entrepreneurship

Empowers employee voices at work

“Nathan’s research is impactful as his dissertation on employee voice about mental health addresses a growing crisis for employees, supervisors, and organizations.” -Jennifer Nahrgang, Palmer Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship

Orem, Utah

Faculty mentor/advisor:
Daniel Newton, PhD, assistant professor, management and entrepreneurship, and Jennifer Nahrgang, PhD, Lloyd J. and Thelma W. Palmer Professor, management and entrepreneurship, Tippie College of Business

What is your degree program and anticipated graduation date?
PhD, management and entrepreneurship, June 2024

Please describe your research:
My research focuses on employee voice–i.e., employees’ communication of ideas, problems, and opinions with the intention to improve the organization. My interest in voice was sparked as I read several notable employee success stories during my doctoral studies. For example, I greatly admire the story of the wildly successful Post-it Note, which was propelled by the grit and persistence of a little-known chemist, Spencer Silver, who repeatedly spoke up about his innovation along with key coworkers, eventually gaining the support of upper management. I am deeply invested in exploring employee mental health—a timely issue as poor mental health now affects an alarming number of employees. Like many, I have experienced a family tragedy that drives me to contribute to a better understanding of the resources available to combat mental health challenges in the workplace. By delving deeper into this issue, I seek to promote mental health awareness, destigmatize mental health, and foster work environments that prioritize employee well-being.

In simple terms, why does this research matter?
Research on employee voice matters because it fosters a conducive work environment where employees feel empowered and encouraged to express their opinions, concerns, and ideas. This not only enhances job satisfaction and engagement but also leads to better decision-making, innovation, and problem-solving within organizations. By valuing and implementing employee input, companies can build trust, increase morale, and ultimately improve overall organizational performance. Research on mental health in the workplace matters because it highlights the significant impact of employees’ mental well-being on both individual and organizational levels. It underscores the need for supportive environments that address stress, anxiety, and other mental health challenges, leading to improved employee productivity, reduced absenteeism, and enhanced job satisfaction. Such research also drives the development of effective policies and interventions that promote mental wellness, fostering a more compassionate and productive work culture.

How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research?
I started doing research from first day on campus.

How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa?
Engaging in research allowed me to delve deep into my academic field, fostering a deeper understanding of theoretical concepts and practical applications. This hands-on experience sharpened my critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills. Moreover, collaborating with mentors and peers in research projects expanded my professional network and exposed me to diverse perspectives, enriching my overall learning journey. Overall, my involvement in research has not only bolstered my academic performance but also contributed to my personal and intellectual growth during my time at the University of Iowa.

What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? My post-graduation career aspirations revolve around becoming a distinguished professor of management at a reputable research institution. With a strong foundation in academia and a deep passion for the field, I am dedicated to advancing the understanding of management principles and contributing valuable research to the academic community. My goal is to inspire and educate future generations of students while conducting innovative research that addresses contemporary challenges in the business world. By combining my commitment to teaching, mentorship, and impactful research, I aim to make a lasting mark in the field of management and contribute to the growth and success of both my students and the institution I join.

Banner location: Downtown—