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 journalJournal articlepeer-review

    37 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 - Sept 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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