NUS Business School’s Assoc Prof Sam Yam wins double accolades for behavioural science research

NUS Business School’s Associate Professor Sam Yam Kai Chi has received two influential international awards for his distinct and impactful contributions to the fields of organisational behaviour and psychological science – cementing his reputation as a top early-career scientist in behavioural science research. 

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

The second accolade he received was the 2022 Distinguished Early Career Contributions – Science Award from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP). SIOP is a premier professional association for the scientific study of the workplace and this award is considered by academics as the most prestigious early career award in organisational behaviour and human resources. 

“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,” said Assoc Prof Yam. 

Assoc Prof Yam’s research interests include leadership, business ethics, and the future of work. His recent studies on leadership cast a spotlight on the ways in which the pandemic has affected support for political leaders worldwide, with significant implications on election outcomes. He also looks at 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. 

Noting how his research provides insights in management psychology, he shared that it “helps leaders identify implicit biases, and guides them on how to better attract and retain talent, as well as drive organisational performance and growth.” 

He added, “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.” 

Assoc Prof Yam read psychology and went on to earn his doctorate in organisational behaviour at the University of Washington. He joined NUS Business School in 2015 and is currently Dean's Chair and Assistant Dean (Faculty Development). He is also the Deputy Head of the Department of Management and Organisation and holds a courtesy appointment at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social SciencesDepartment of Psychology. Passionate about teaching, he has translated his research findings for lessons in the classroom and was recognised with the NUS Business School Teaching Excellence Award in 2019 and 2021. 

The two international honours are certainly not Assoc Prof Yam’s first. In 2016, he was identified as 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, joining the ranks of those from Harvard, Yale and Oxford. In 2017, he was named a Rising Star by the Association for Psychological Science. A prolific researcher, he has published 49 research papers, of which over half have appeared in top-tier organisational behaviour and psychology journals such as Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the British Medical Journal, Academy of Management Journal, and Journal of Applied Psychology. He has also received multiple best paper awards from the Academy of Management. 

Assoc Prof Yam is currently engaged in exciting new projects that further push the boundaries of psychological and organisational research. For example, he has numerous ongoing studies examining human-robot interactions in unique contexts, including how people interact with robot service providers, medical advisers, and clergy. In another ongoing project, he is collaborating with Mandai Wildlife Group to explore the impact of working with animals, as well as how the presence of animals at work can positively influence employees’ compassion and well-being. 

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