Status as an End: The impact of status goal orientations on individuals' organizational actions

Raz, Kachelit, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia
Thomas - Hunt, Melissa, Darden Graduate School of Business, University of Virginia
Behfar, Kristin, Darden Graduate School of Business, University of Virginia
Cowen, Amanda, McIntire School of Commerce, University of Virginia

My dissertation investigates how organizational contexts and individual status aspirations (status goal orientations) influence business leaders’ behavioral strategies and their impact on performance. In particular, the dissertation focuses on the effects of status goal orientations on unethical and nonproductive behaviors as well as harmful interpersonal attributions such as credit taking. My framework draws on research on self-presentation and dishonesty which posits that actors attempt to influence the reactions of a particular audience by deceptively creating a preferred image of themselves to signal superior competence in order to obtain desired outcomes in a status order. Additionally, I investigate the types of hierarchies that are most vulnerable to the loose coupling of competence and status attainment. This research develops a framework to explain the associations between status goal orientations, status hierarchies, deceptive competence signaling and unethical and nonproductive behaviors while providing the first test of whether status goal orientations employ deceptive competence signaling as a strategy for increasing perceived competence. I conduct five studies that investigate whether there is a positive relationship between status goal orientations and strategies aimed at deceptively signaling competence. In addition, I conduct an additional study to test the influence of contexts that emphasize status attainment and their impact on deceptive competence signaling behaviors. The results suggest that status goal orientations are associated with a pattern of negative behaviors related to unethical performance outcomes and biased interpersonal attributions.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
status, dishonesty, unethical behavior, hierarchy
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