Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Impression Management Tactics of Protégés and Mentors' Knowledge-Sharing Behavior

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Impression Management Tactics of Protégés and Mentors' Knowledge-Sharing Behavior

Article excerpt

Modern mentoring programs have evolved from traditional apprenticeships and have developed into an effective means of employee training and development (Allen, Eby, & Lentz, 2006; Burke, McKeen, & McKenna; Gong, Chen, & Yang, 2014). An increasing number of enterprises have adopted mentoring programs. Scholars have also shown great interest in mentoring (e.g., Lee, Kim, Park & Alcazar-Bejerano, 2016; Park, Newman, Zhang, Wu, & Hooke, 2016). Chao, Walz, and Gardner (1992) stated that mentors are usually those staff members who have a certain power or status in an organization. They are in a position to give advice to, coach, or teach protégés, which, in turn, helps the latter in their career development. Ragins and Scandura (1999) argued that mentoring is an interchange and interactive process between mentors and protégés. Despite the obvious benefits of this process to the protégés' career development, the mentors can also derive some rewards from it. For example, by providing career support to protégés, mentors can form their authority, solidify their status in the organization, and earn interpersonal support from their protégés (Eby, Durley, Evans, & Ragins, 2006). Moreover, by providing protégés with work experience and professional knowledge, mentors can also derive increased job satisfaction and sense of achievement (Burke et al., 1994). Swap, Leonard, Shields, and Abrams (2001) proposed that mentoring and storytelling are effective methods of organizational knowledge transfer, but few researchers have conducted an empirical examination of knowledge sharing in mentoring programs. Lankau and Scandura (2007) also suggested that in existing mentoring research, findings reported in studies on knowledge sharing have been ignored, and these form a very important aspect of mentoring research because the main purpose of mentoring programs is to help mentors and protégés learn from each other. Thus, combining the results of both knowledge-sharing research and mentoring research could enrich understanding of mentoring and contribute to knowledgemanagement theory.

In a mentoring program, protégés must rely on their mentors' guidance and support to improve their performance in, and fit with, the organization. Thus, protégés are likely to try and control their behavior in order to give their mentors a good impression and to gain more guidance and support from their mentors (Liu, Wang, & Wayne, 2015). This kind of behavior is called impression management (IM), which refers to the process by which a person uses particular tactics to influence others' perception of him/her and to impress others (Turnley & Bolino, 2001). Previous researchers have examined the effect of IM on recruitment interviews, performance evaluation, and organization citizenship behavior (Huang, Zhao, Niu, Ashford, & Lee, 2013; Roulin, Bangerter, & Levashina, 2014), but the effect of IM in mentoring programs is yet to receive attention from researchers. Given the differences between mentors and their protégés-for example, in their individual characteristics, work habits, and personal values-the quality of the mentoring relationship may vary (Eby & Lockwood, 2005), in that the more similarities the mentor and protégé have, the higher will be the quality of the mentorship. There is also little known about whether or not protégés' IM tactics exert an impact on mentorship quality and then influence mentors' knowledge sharing. In addition, the focus in previous mentoring research has mostly been on the antecedents of mentoring provision from the mentors' perspective (Allen, Poteet, Russell, & Dobbins, 1997), rather than from the protégés' perspective. In the present study, we investigated how protégés' IM tactics would affect mentors' knowledge-sharing behavior through mentorship quality from the protégés' perspective.

Theory and Hypotheses

Impression Management Tactics and Mentorship Quality

Wayne and Ferris (1990) described three IM tactics: supervisor-focused, self-focused, and job-focused tactics. …

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