Ingratiation in the workplace: The role of subordinate and supervisor political skill

Long Zeng Wu, Ho Kwong Kwan*, Liqun WEI, Jun Liu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Over two decades, social influence researchers have called for a study that would examine how, why, and when influence tactics are effective. Informed by balance theory, the present study proposes that subordinate and supervisor political skill impacts the effectiveness of ingratiation attempts. The results from a survey of 228 supervisor-subordinate dyads in Chinese firms indicated that subordinates with high political skill are less likely to have their exhibited ingratiation behaviour perceived by their supervisors; however, supervisors with high political skill are likely to perceive ingratiation behaviour demonstrated by their subordinates. Moreover, the most successful condition for enabling subordinates to hide ingratiation from their supervisors is when the subordinates are politically astute and the supervisors are not. Furthermore, when supervisors perceive ingratiation behaviour, they rate low on the job performance and promotability of their subordinates; these low ratings are explained by the undermined personal reputation of the subordinates due to their ingratiation detected.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)991-1017
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

User-Defined Keywords

  • Ingratiation
  • Performance
  • Political skill
  • Promotability
  • Reputation


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