Prof. Christian Tröster, PhD


Associate Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior


Journal Articles (Peer-Reviewed)

DOI: 10.5465/amj.2016.0914 

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.

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DOI: 10.1037/apl0000281 

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.

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Open reference in new window "Keeping (future) rivals down: Temporal social comparison predicts coworker social undermining via future status threat and envy"

DOI: 10.1002/hrm.21876 

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.

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Open reference in new window "Worse than others but better than before: Integrating social and temporal comparison perspectives to explain executive turnover via pay standing and pay growth"

DOI: 10.1108/S0742-332220150000032007 

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.

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Open reference in new window "Entrepreneurial Orientation and Performance: Investigating Local Requirements for Entrepreneurial Decision-Making"

DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2014.04.003 

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.

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Open reference in new window "Structuring for team success: The interactive effects of network structure and cultural diversity on team potency and performance"

DOI: 10.1007/s10551-012-1287-5 

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.

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Open reference in new window "Satisfying Individual Desires or Moral Standards? Preferential Treatment and Group Members’ Self-Worth, Affect, and Behavior"

DOI: 10.1057/jibs.2012.15 

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.

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Open reference in new window "Leader openness, nationality dissimilarity, and voice in multinational management teams"

Conference 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.

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Open reference in new window "Embeddedness and the Repatriation Intention of Company-backed and Self-initiated Expatriates (Best Paper)"

Book Chapters

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.

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Open reference in new window "Führen von multinationalen Teams–eine kognitive Analyse sowie Implikationen für die Führung multinationaler Teams"

DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199794911.013.002 

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.

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Open reference in new window "Person-Environment Fit and Self-Determination Theory"