Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Impression Management (IM) Behaviors, IM Culture, and Job Outcomes

Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Impression Management (IM) Behaviors, IM Culture, and Job Outcomes

Article excerpt

Over the years, an abundance of research has accumulated in the area of impression management (IM). The preponderance of this research has examined human resource outcomes (e.g., performance, promotions, compensation) of different IM tactics (Gordon, 1996; Wayne and Liden, 1995). However, whereas much is known about relationships between IM tactics and career-related consequences (e.g., Bolino et al., 2008; Harris et al., 2007; Turnley and Bolino, 2001), much less is known about how the use of these tactics impact employees' intrapsychic and non-career related outcomes in the form of job satisfaction, burnout, and job strains. Additionally, much less is known about different workplace cultural norms related to IM usage and how those workplace norms affect employee outcomes.

In this study, the authors examined two seemingly divergent IM tactics: intimidation and exemplification. Intimidation is a negative IM tactic defined as acting threateningly to others so they will perceive one as dangerous or forceful (Jones and Pittman, 1982). On the other hand, exemplification is an IM tactic that seeks to make others perceive one in a positive light--to be seen as exemplary and going above and beyond your job duties (Jones and Pittman, 1982). Exploration of these two divergent forms of IM is meaningful given that ingratiation and self-promotion are some of the most studied tactics (Ferris et al., 2002), whereas intimidation and exemplification in particular are not as well understood and less frequently explored in the literature. As such, the authors believe that both of these IM tactics, and cultures where these tactics are prevalent, are likely to be associated with positive (job satisfaction) and negative (employee burnout and job strains) outcomes. Divergent tactics are explored such that they may provide insights into potential boundary conditions when considering the interaction of one's behavior relative to the company culture.

This study is framed within the stress research as well as within the fit literature. The seminal work of Victor Tom (1971) argued that individuals prefer similarity between self-concept and organizational image. More specifically, Kristof conceptualized person-organization fit (P-O fit) as "the compatibility between people and organizations that occurs when: (a) at least one entity provides what the other needs, or (b) they share similar fundamental characteristics, or (c) both" (1996: 4-5). Although an array of research explores values, personality, demands, supplies, and other dimensions of P-O fit, this study more narrowly explores shared characteristics and compatibility between an individual's IM behaviors and the IM culture/climate.

Furthermore, based on person-situation theory (Mischel, 2004), the authors argue that it is important to not only explore the usage of IM behaviors (Bolino and Turnley, 1999) and the cultural norms for these behaviors, but also the interaction of these two variables. In particular, this study believes that an individual's usage of these IM behaviors will exhibit a main effect, and that organizational cultures of IM usage will either intensify or lessen the IM behaviors- outcome associations. A mismatch between one's IM behaviors and the IM culture is related to job strain, as articulated by Mayes and Ganster (1988). This conceptualization of fit and "misfit" aligns nicely within the stress literature as will be discussed shortly.

Thus, the goals of this study are threefold. First, this study set out to empirically investigate if an employees' usage of intimidation and exemplification is related to these same three outcomes. Currently, the IM literature has primarily focused on performance and career-related outcomes, but little is known about how these tactics relate to job burnout, job strain, and job satisfaction. More specifically, the large majority of research on IM has examined career success-related outcomes (e.g., performance, promotions, and compensation), but few have looked at intrapsychic attitudinal and stress-related consequences, which often have important bottom-line implications for the workplace (e. …

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