Differences in the trust an employee carries for an AI bot vs. a human manager - ON-096

Preferred Disciplines: Either/or: Computational Organization Theory, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Psychology, Organizational Analysis, Organizational Design, Economics, Engineering-economic systems. Master, PhD, Post-Doc.
Company: NA
Project Length: 4 to 6 months
Desired start date: As soon as possible
Location: Waterloo, Ontario
No. of Positions: 1
Preferences: North American Universities.

About the Company: 

We’re building a platform to accelerate employee performance, and to lay the foundation for the post-manager workplace. Using recent advancements in ML and NLP, we’re helping employees develop their self-management capabilities to grow an autonomous and self-directed workforce.

Project Description:

We seek to understand how an employee might trust an AI bot who has been tasked with helping to improve their performance, in contrast to how an employee might trust their human manager. 

Research Objectives:

To investigate 6 different companies from 2 different verticals in target market.

To identify how employees perceive trust in workplace relationships, and the power-dynamics that result (employee-manager, employee-company, employee-executive leadership, employee-employee); and how those perceptions guide employee behaviour.

To identify the specific topics and categories of subject matter that employees feel differently speaking to an AI bot about vs. a human manager.

To identify any changes in behaviour that result from employees who have their performance managed by AI technology.


Qualitative study with simulation exercise, coupled with criterion sampling, where sample is composed of professionals currently employed at companies belonging to a target market. 

Interviews, Focus Groups. We believe that holistic results can be achieved by employing a combination of these two methods.

  • Individual Interviews (structured and unstructured to capture nuance missed by using a single approach) to establish norms and determine changes in perception of job function/role, engagement, expenditure of time, goal attainment, etc. from three job-level groups: Executive, Manager, Employee.
  • Focus Groups of employees to facilitate discussion about observed phenomena.

Expertise and Skills Needed:

    • Ability to run a simulation exercise (proxy for our technology) with participants
    • Verbal communication
    • Empathy for research participants
    • Respectful of privacy, confidentiality, consent of participant companies & individuals
    • Interest in intersection of ML/AI technologies, organizational behaviour, employee performance, company operations, productivity tools


    For more info or to apply to this applied research position, please

    1. Check your eligibility and find more information about open projects.

    2. Complete this webform. You will be asked to upload your CV. Remember to indicate the title of the project(s) you are interested in and obtain your professor’s approval to proceed!

    3. Interested students need to get the approval from their supervisor and send their CV along with a link to their supervisor’s university webpage by applying through the webform.