Three Studies on Counterintuitive Effects of Organizational Status
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This dissertation examines some counterintuitive effects associated with having high status. Whereas much literature focuses on benefits associated with holding high status, in this dissertation, I highlight some negative outcomes that can come from having status. Study 1 examines marital costs that can emerge when women hold high job status relative to their spouses. I propose a conditional process model such that when women experience job status leakage, a construct referring to contempt that women feel towards their husbands’ lower job status, this will positively predict marital instability, mediated through decreased relationship satisfaction. The model is tested in a cross-sectional field study on women in high job status positions, and the model is supported. The second study of this dissertation examines potential costs when in high status positions to CEOs longevity. I argue that despite the benefits accrued at the highest level of organizational status; CEOs will compare their status to other CEOs, which influences their longevity. Using a retrospective cohort analysis on award winners from Financial Word Magazine’s “CEO of the Year” contest, I test four competing models, which suggest that the ways CEOs interpret their status can predict longevity. The results of this study are largely unsupported, though post-hoc analyses and theorizing suggest that status maintenance comes at a cost to longevity for this group of CEOs. In the third study of this dissertation, I examine the relational costs associated with holding high status. Given the relational nature of status, for some individuals to have high status, there must be lower status referents. The emotions and behaviors of those lower status others are the focus of the third study. I propose that in the presence of status differences, lower status individuals will feel envious of others’ higher status positions, and I quantify how much status dispersion must be present in order for envy to be triggered. I also suggest that when individuals are envious of others’ status positions, they are more likely to ostracize high status targets and perceive themselves as ostracized in social interactions. The results suggest that there is a curvilinear relationship between status dispersion and envy, where only minimal status differences need be present in order for envy to emerge, and envy then predicts feeling ostracized in social situations. The dissertation closes with a general discussion of the studies, and suggests areas for future research.