Status, Relatively Speaking: Extending the Organizational Focus on Status and Status Inequality

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Christie, Amy
Status , Status Inequality
This dissertation explores the role of status and status hierarchies in organizations, with considerable attention devoted to status-based health disparities. Manuscript 1 extends the current work stress literature by proposing a dynamic model relating individual-level socio-economic status (SES) to workplace stressors, psychological resources, and health. The model is tested using three-wave longitudinal data gathered across four years from employed Canadians. The results show an escalating relationship between personal control and work stressors, which indirectly links SES to physical health outcomes. The second study of the dissertation elaborates on the definition of status, acknowledging and embracing its relational nature. In doing so, Manuscript 2 advances Manuscript 1 in numerous ways: (1) it conceptualizes status at the team-level of analysis by introducing the construct of status inequality, or the degree to which status is dispersed within teams; (2) it shifts focus from macro indicators of SES to organizational indicators of status within small, face-to-face teams, asking whether status in these teams influences health; (3) it explores performance-related outcomes in addition to health outcomes at both the individual- and team-level of analysis. Archival data from National Basketball Association players and teams were obtained to test the hypotheses set forth in Manuscript 2. The results of the study suggest that both status and status inequality (and their interaction) are related to the focal individual- and team-level outcomes. The final chapter comprising this dissertation resides largely at the team-level of analysis. Manuscript 3 is a conceptual exploration into the mechanisms that relate status inequality to team-level health and performance, proposing that status inequality influences social cognition, from which emerges a team’s social structure. Furthermore, it places boundary conditions on the effects of status inequality by arguing that shared cultural values will determine how status inequality is perceived and enacted. The dissertation closes with a general discussion of the studies and recommendations for future research.
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