Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Effects of Gender and Power on PR Managers' Upward Influence

Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Effects of Gender and Power on PR Managers' Upward Influence

Article excerpt

Women's movement into management positions over the past forty years has propelled an abundance of research into the similarities and differences between female and male managers (for meta-analysis reviews, see Dindia and Allen, 1992; Wilkins and Andersen, 1991). The primary question fueling this gender research is whether the behaviors of men and women are situation-bound or the result of more stable, gender differences.

Similar debate exists concerning men's and women's choice of upward influence tactics, defined as communication that is used intentionally by lower-power participants to change the behavior of higher-power participants in organizations (Waldron, 1999). The ability to exert influence on the decisions made by a supervisor is an important objective. How employees persuasively frame their upward influence has been shown to impact performance ratings (Kipnis and Vanderveer, 1971), organizational influence (Floyd and Wooldridge, 1997), promotability (Thacker and Wayne, 1995),job effectiveness (Yukl and Tracey, 1992), and supervisor's liking of the employee (Wayne and Ferris, 1990). Moreover, upward influence helps to make organizations more democratic and receptive to change (Waldron, 1999).

This study answers the call for additional research on gender, power, and upward influence tactics (Ringer and Boss, 2000; Schlueter et al., 1990) by developing a theoretical rationale for examining why there might be potential gender differences in upward influence tactic choices. First, pertinent literature on upward influence, gender, and power is reviewed. Next, the method is outlined. Results are then presented and discussed. Finally, implications are offered for research and employees.

Upward Influence Tactics, Gender, and Power

Upward Influence Tactics Defined

The well-regarded taxonomies provided by Kipnis et al. (1980) and Schriesheim and Hinkin (1990) indicate that there are six types of upward influence tactics. One tactic, rationality, refers to the use of facts and data to support a logical argument or to alter the thinking of a supervisor. The second tactic, coalition, involves making claims about the support of others in the organization of one's position. A third tactic, ingratiation, has to do with the use of impression management, flattery, the use of goodwill, and the promotion of a pleasant relationship when making a request. Ingratiation typically makes the individual who is seeking to influence appear humble, the superior feel important, or both (Waldron, 1999). Fourth, the tactic of exchange of benefits pertains to negotiating by means of bargaining or favors. The fifth tactic of assertiveness is a direct and forceful approach. Sixth, upward appeal, involves gaining the support of higher-up levels in the organization to back up requests.

Gender, Upward Influence Tactics, and the Structuralist Perspective

Research is unclear whether gender differences exist in upward influence tactic usage (Baxter, 1984; Conrad, 1985; Dubrin, 1989, 1991; Grob et al., 1997; Harper and Hirokawa, 1988; Hertzog and Scudder, 1996; Kipnis et al., 1980; Kline, 1994; Lamude, 1993; Schilit and Locke, 1982; Schlueter et al., 1990; Yukl and Falbe, 1990). Some research suggests that women tend to use "weaker" altruistic, ingratiating, and acquiescent influence tactics more frequently than men whereas men report greater use of the tactics of manipulation and reason (Baxter, 1984; Harper and Hirokawa, 1988; Schlueter et al., 1990). On the other hand, other studies have revealed little differences in tactic choice between men and women (Kipnis et al., 1980; Schilit and Locke, 1982; Yukl and Falbe, 1990).

According to the structuralist perspective, potential differences in upward influence usage between men and women are due to conditions inside the organization, not to gender (Kanter, 1977; Smith and Grenier, 1982). Researchers working from this structuralist perspective contend that the manner in which power is embedded in the organization may impact upward influence activity (Dubrin, 1991; Kanter, 1977; Kipnis and Schmidt, 1983; Kipnis et al. …

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