MY BOSS IS YOUNGER, LESS EDUCATED, AND HAS A SHORTER TENURE: WHEN AND WHY STATUS (IN)CONGRUENCE INFLUENCES SUBORDINATES’ FAIRNESS PERCEPTIONS
Supervisors are usually older, more educated, and of longer tenure than their subordinates, a situation known as status congruence. However, increasingly subordinates experience status incongruence, in which their supervisors lack the traditional status markers (such as age, education, and tenure) that their subordinates have. We examine how status congruence/incongruence interacts with supervisors’ competence to influence subordinates’ perceptions of promotion system fairness and their subsequent work motivation. Grounded in system justification theory, we found that when the supervisor was relatively less competent, status congruence was more likely to serve as a basis of system justification and thus enhance the perceived fairness of the promotion system (Study 1). Moreover, this interaction was stronger among subordinates who experienced low power, a known elicitor of people’s system justification motivation (Study 2). In further support of the system justification mechanism, when the supervisor was less competent, status congruence influenced the fairness perceptions of low-power but not high-power subordinates (Study 3). Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
fairness; power; status incongruence; supervisor competence; system justification
Hildreth, John Angus; Bell, Bradford
Ph. D., Management
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis