Journal Articles (Peer-Reviewed)
Reh, Susan, Niels Van Quaquebeke, Christian Tröster and Steffen R. Giessner (In press): When and Why Does Status Threat at Work Bring Out the Best and the Worst in Us?: A Temporal Social Comparison Theory., Organizational Psychology Review.
Korman, Jennifer, Niels Van Quaquebeke and Christian Tröster (2021): Managers are less burned-out at the top: The roles of sense of power and self-efficacy at different hierarchy levels, Journal of Business and Psychology.
Abstract: While managers generally seem to enjoy better mental health than regular employees, there are also plenty of reports about them suffering from burnout. The present study explores this relationship between hierarchy level and burnout in more detail. In doing so, we not only investigate what impact managerial rank may have on burnout, but we also contrast two different theoretically meaningful mediators for the relationship: sense of power (feeling in control over people) and work-related self-efficacy (feeling in control over tasks). The results of two surveys—the first with 580 managers (single-source) and the second with 154 managers matched with ratings from close others (multi-source)—show a negative relationship between managers’ hierarchy level and burnout that is explained by both mediators independently. Additional analyses reveal that high sense of power and high self-efficacy are both necessary conditions for low levels of burnout. Such fine-grained analyses allow us to understand why managers at the top are less threatened by burnout, in contrast to what some media reports suggest.
Korman, Benjamin, Christian Tröster and Steffen R. Giessner (2021): The Consequence of Incongruent Abusive Supervision: Anticipation of Social Exclusion, Shame, and Turnover Intentions, Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies.
Abstract: We investigated the turnover intentions of employees who perceive that they are being treated with more or less abusive supervision than their coworkers. We call this incongruent abusive supervision. Our findings support our theory that employees associate incongruent abusive supervision with anticipation of social exclusion from their coworkers. Furthermore, this appraisal of social exclusion threat is associated with feelings of shame, which, in turn, increase turnover intentions. Two experimental vignettes provide support for our theoretical model. These findings highlight coworkers’ abusive supervision as an important context for the experience of one’s own abusive supervision and introduce shame as an emotional mechanism important for understanding employee responses to incongruent abusive supervision.
Troester, Christian and Niels Van Quaquebeke (2020): When Victims Help their Abusive Supervisors: The Role of LMX, Self-Blame, and Guilt., Academy of Management Journal.
Abstract: Studies on abusive supervision typically posit that targets of abuse will either directly blame the perpetrating supervisor or indirectly blame the organization for allowing the abuse, and as a result reduce their cooperativeness at work. We pivot from this predominant logic and argue that, under certain circumstances, targets of abusive supervision may blame themselves, feel guilty, and then try to make it up to their abusive supervisors by helping them more. Drawing on the emotional process theory of abusive supervision and the more general socio-functional perspective of emotions, we specify that such a dynamic is more likely to ensue when subordinates otherwise experience the relationship with their supervisors as good (high LMX). Two studies—an experiment and a two-weeks bi-daily experience sampling study—provide support for our reasoning. As such, our study extends theorizing on the consequences of abusive supervision, which has typically found that it reduces cooperative behaviors. Moreover, it contributes to previous speculations that leaders may engage in abusive supervision because it has beneficial consequences for them.
Tröster, Christian, Andrew Parker, Daan van Knippenberg and Ben Sahlmueller (2019): The Coevolution of Social Networks and Thoughts of Quitting, Academy of Management Journal, 62 (1).
Abstract: Research has shown that employees who occupy more central positions in their organization's network have lower turnover. As a result, scholars commonly interpret turnover as the consequence of social networks. Based on Conservation of Resources theory, we propose an alternative coevolution perspective that recognizes the influence of changes in individuals' social network position on their thoughts of quitting (the consideration of turnover), but also posits that thoughts of quitting shape individuals' agency in maintaining and changing their social network. Extending previous research, we predict that creation (dissolution) of both friendship ties and advice ties are negatively (positively) related to subsequent thoughts of quitting. We then develop and test the novel hypotheses that for friendship ties, thoughts of quitting are positively related to tie retention and negatively related to tie creation (leading to network stasis), whereas for advice ties thoughts of quitting are negatively related to tie retention and positively related to tie creation (leading to network churn). In a longitudinal network analysis that assessed 121 employees across three time points, we find support for our hypotheses that thoughts of quitting affect network changes, but do not find that network changes affect thoughts of quitting.
Meuer, Johannes, Christian Tröster, Michèle Angstmann, Uschi Backes-Gellner and Kerstin Pull (2019): Embeddedness and the repatriation intention of assigned and self-initiated expatriates, European Management Journal, 37 (6): 784-793.
Abstract: Expatriation research has been intrigued by the question of how to prevent the unplanned return of expatriates to their home country. Although a majority of studies have focused on assigned expatriates (AEs), only recently have researchers expanded the scope of analysis by focusing on self-initiated expatriates (SIEs). For SIEs, research has identified job embeddedness as a key explanatory concept for early repatriation without yet acknowledging its potential to also explain the early expatriation of AEs. However, because AEs and SIEs differ in important motivational and behavioral aspects, the lack of comparative studies prohibits a deeper understanding of the mechanisms through which job embeddedness influences early repatriation. We build on belongingness theory to conceptualize early repatriation as a compensatory reaction of expatriates to an inhibited need to belong. Using a unique sample of 345 expatriates from 40 countries, we show that off-the-job embeddedness is more important for explaining the repatriation intention of AEs than of SIEs, whereas on-the-job embeddedness is more important for explaining the repatriation of SIEs compared to AEs. Our integrative model carries important theoretical implications for expatriation research and provides managerial implications for recruiting and retaining AEs and SIEs.
Tröster, Christian, Niels Van Quaquebeke and Karl Aquino (2018): Worse than others but better than before: Integrating social and temporal comparison perspectives to explain executive turnover via pay standing and pay growth, Human Resource Management, 57 (2): 471-481.
Abstract: Organizations often pay greater salaries to higher-ranking executives compared to lower-ranking executives. While this method can be useful for retaining those at the organization’s apex, it may also incline executives at the bottom of the pay pyramid to see themselves at a disadvantage and thus exit the firm. Naturally, organizations often want to retain some of their lower-paid, but highly valuable executives; the question, then, is how organizations can reduce the turnover of lower-ranking executives. By integrating social with temporal comparison theory, we argue that, when executives earn relatively less than their peers, more pay growth (i.e., individual pay increases over time) leads to less turnover. By the same token, we also argue that pay growth is unrelated to the turnover of executives who already earn substantially more than their peers. The results of our analysis, which covered almost 20 years of objective data on a large sample of U.S. top executives, provide support for our theory.
Reh, Susan, Christian Tröster and Niels Van Quaquebeke (2018): Keeping (future) rivals down: Temporal social comparison predicts coworker social undermining via future status threat and envy, Journal of Applied Psychology, 103 (4): 399-415.
Abstract: The extant social undermining literature suggests that employees envy and, consequently, undermine coworkers when they feel that these coworkers are better off and thus pose a threat to their own current status. With the present research, we draw on the sociofunctional approach to emotions to propose that an anticipated future status threat can similarly incline employees to feel envy toward, and subsequently undermine, their coworkers. We argue that employees pay special attention to coworkers' past development in relation to their own, because faster-rising coworkers may pose a future status threat even if they are still performing worse in absolute terms in the present. With a set of two behavioral experiments (N = 90 and N = 168), we establish that participants react to faster-rising coworkers with social undermining behavior when the climate is competitive (vs. less competitive). We extended these results with a scenario experiment (N = 376) showing that, in these situations, participants extrapolate lower future status than said coworker and thus respond with envy and undermining behavior. A two-wave field study (N = 252) replicated the complete moderated serial mediation model. Our findings help to explain why employees sometimes undermine others who present no immediate threat to their status. As such, we extend theorizing on social undermining and social comparison.
van Doorn, Sebastian, Mariano Heyden, Christian Tröster and Henk W. Volberda (2015): Entrepreneurial Orientation and Performance: Investigating Local Requirements for Entrepreneurial Decision-Making, Advances in Strategic Management: Cognition and Strategy, 32: 211-239.
Abstract: Entrepreneurial orientation (EO) plays an important role in explaining firm performance. In this study, we investigate the relation between EO and performance at the strategic business unit (SBU) level and examine the influence of decision-making mode and social capital of the focal business unit manager. Adopting the attention-based view (ABV) as our main theoretical perspective, we examine the impact of decision-making mode (i.e., participative vs. autocratic) on the EO–performance relation. In addition, we investigate the extent to which strong network ties with actors at lower, similar, and higher hierarchical positions, respectively, enable SBU managers to effectively engage in participative decision-making processes when leveraging EO. Our findings based on 119 SBUs of one large international company provide nuanced insights into how local conditions interact to shape EO’s influence on performance.
Tröster, Christian, Ajay Mehra and Daan van Knippenberg (2014): Structuring for team success: The interactive effects of network structure and cultural diversity on team potency and performance, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 124 (2): 245-255.
Abstract: This longitudinal study used data from 91 self-managed teams (456 individuals, 60 nationalities) to examine the interactive effects of a team’s task (“workflow”) network structure and its cultural diversity (as indexed by nationality) on the team’s “potency” (i.e., the team’s confidence in its ability to perform) and its performance (as rated by expert judges). We found that whereas the emergence of dense task networks enhanced team potency it was the emergence of (moderately) centralized task networks that facilitated team performance. These varied structural effects, moreover, were themselves contingent on team composition: the more culturally diverse a team, the more pronounced were the positive effects of network density on team potency and the higher the level of network centralization required for optimal team performance. The success of a team appears to hinge on the interplay between network structure and team composition.
Thau, Stefan, Christian Tröster, Karl Aquino, Madan Pillutla and David De Cremer (2013): Satisfying Individual Desires or Moral Standards? Preferential Treatment and Group Members’ Self-Worth, Affect, and Behavior, Journal of Business Ethics, 113 (1): 133-145.
Abstract: We investigate how social comparison processes in leader treatment quality impact group members’ self-worth, affect, and behavior. Evidences from the field and the laboratory suggest that employees who are treated kinder and more considerate than their fellow group members experience more self-worth and positive affect. Moreover, the greater positive self-implications of preferentially treated group members motivate them more strongly to comply with norms and to engage in tasks that benefit the group. These findings suggest that leaders face an ethical trade-off between satisfying the moral standard of treating everybody equally well and satisfying individual group members’ desire to be treated better than others.
Tröster, Christian and Daan van Knippenberg (2012): Leader openness, nationality dissimilarity, and voice in multinational management teams, Journal of International Business Studies, 43 (6): 591-613.
Abstract: We argue that leader-directed voice (i.e., communicating critical suggestions for change to the leader) is a relational phenomenon, and that it is affected by an inherent feature of multinational teams: members’ (dis)similarities in nationality. We tested our hypotheses in a sample of middle managers who were working in multinational teams. The results of this study show that leaders of multinational teams are more likely to profit from the local know-how of employees from underrepresented nationalities when they are open to their ideas, and when they have the same nationality. The study also shows that the effects of being open to employees’ ideas and sharing the same nationality are mediated by affective commitment and psychological safety, respectively. We discuss how, even though the current relational demography perspective with its dichotomous understanding of (dis)similarity is not suited to capture the dynamics of cultural differences, it does set the stage for future studies to examine the cultural dynamics behind an individual's experience of being different from other team members in multinational teams. We also discuss the practical implications of these findings for multinational companies.
Korman, Benjamin, Christian Troester and Steffen R. Giessner (2020): LMXSC and Paradoxical Coworker-Directed Behaviors: A Dual-Path Mediation Model Involving Pride (Best Paper), in: Taneja, Sonia (ed.): The 80th Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings.
Abstract: We investigate the pride reactions and coworker-directed behaviors of employees with high leader-member exchange social comparison (LMXSC). An experimental vignette and a time-lagged field study across three time points provide robust support for our theory that LMXSC (i.e. the perception of having a better relationship with one’s leader relative to the relationships fellow coworkers have with the leader) triggers feelings of hubristic and authentic pride in employees. Hubristic pride, in turn, promotes coworker-directed undermining while authentic pride promotes interpersonal citizenship behavior. Together, our studies demonstrate why and how LMXSC can have positive and negative effects on employees’ coworker-directed behavior.
Meuer, Johannes, Michèle Angstmann and Christian Tröster (2016): Embeddedness and the Repatriation Intention of Company-backed and Self-initiated Expatriates (Best Paper), in: Humphreys, John (ed.): The 76th Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings.
Abstract: Expatriation research has predominantly focused on company-backed expatriates (CBEs), who are sent abroad by their employer, and on examining how their levels of on-the-job embeddedness affect their intention to prematurely repatriate. Yet, most expatriates are not CBEs but self-initiated expatriates (SIEs). In this article we hypothesize that for their behavioral and demographic features, CBEs and SIEs differ substantially in their levels of on-the job and off-the-job embeddedness. Moreover, these difference lay ground for moderating effects resulting in different explanations for the repatriation intention of CBEs and SIEs. Drawing on a unique sample of 345 expatriates from 40 different countries we show that while SIEs experience a higher degree of off-the-job embeddedness than CBEs, the two expatriate types do not differ in their levels of on-the-job embeddedness. Also, off-the-job embeddedness is more important for explaining the repatriation intention of CBEs than of SIEs. Most importantly, whereas for SIEs low levels of on-the-job embeddedness increase their intention to repatriate, for CBEs high-not low-levels increase their intention to repatriate. Our findings carry important theoretical implications for research on expatriates and provide managerial implications related to the choice, hiring criteria, and support programs for expatriates.
Tröster, Christian (In press): Führen von multinationalen Teams–eine kognitive Analyse sowie Implikationen für die Führung multinationaler Teams, in: Au, Corinna von (ed.): Führen in der vernetzten virtuellen und realen Welt: Digitalisierung, Selbstorganisation, Organisationsspezifika und Tabuthema Tod, Springer Fachmedien: Wiesbaden.
Abstract: Das Ziel dieses Beitrags ist es, die wichtigsten theoretischen Entwicklungen zum Thema Führung und Kultur gegenüberzustellen und mit Hinblick auf die effektive Führung von multinationalen Teams in einer global vernetzten Welt zu diskutieren. Dabei liegt der Schwerpunkt des Beitrags vor allem auf sozial kognitiven Theorien: Zum einen, weil diese Theorien sehr erfolgreich den Einfluss von Diversität in Organisationen beschreiben, und zum anderen, weil diese Theorien in der interkulturellen Forschung sehr verbreitet sind. Abschließend werden die noch zu erforschenden Fragestellungen vorgestellt und Implikationen für die Führung multinationaler Teams abgeleitet.
Greguras, Gary, Jim Difendorff, Jane Carpenter and Christian Tröster (2014): Person-Environment Fit and Self-Determination Theory, in: Gagné, Marylène (ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Work Engagement, Motivation, and Self-Determination Theory, Oxford University Press: New York.
Abstract: Despite self-determination and person-environment fit theories being comprised of several common key components, rarely have these theoretical frameworks been integrated. Both self-determination and person-environment fit theories highlight the importance of individuals’ need satisfactions and motivations. For example, self-determination theory highlights the importance of the reasons for goal pursuit in predicting individual well-being. Similarly, in person-environment fit theories, employee-environment value congruence is important because values influence outcomes through goals (motivation). The article begins by discussing the similarities and differences between these two theoretical frameworks, then devotes attention to integrating these frameworks and presenting an agenda for future research. It also discusses social network theory and research and highlights the potential usefulness of integrating these lines of research. A main premise of the article’s analysis is that self-determination theory is likely a useful framework for better understanding the processes through which person-environment fit influences employee outcomes.