The Valence of Power: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Polly Kang, Operations, Information, and Decisions, The Wharton School; Maurice Schweitzer, Operations, Information and Decisions, The Wharton School; and Brad Bitterly, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Abstract: Companies often showcase achievements of high performing “stars” to recognize them, but also motivate observing employees. However, “star” recognition can have both beneficial and detrimental effects on observing employees. In fact, knowing enough about the process of becoming a “star” and the degree to which the observers identify with the “star” will moderate whether or not “star” recognition will have a beneficial or detrimental effect. In my research, I am interested in how firms can foster a culture of creativity through the way they showcase high performers. I plan on exploring whether a firm’s emphasis on meritocracy and innovation influence employees’ impression management behavior and whether this behavior impacts other employees’ effort, performance, and creativity.