The role of subjective threat in upward influence situations.

Vincent R Waldron, James Sanderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The practice of organizational democracy requires members to exert influence. However, members often ‘‘pass’’ on the opportunity to exercise upward influence because they perceive the act to be threatening to them or to their supervisors. Drawing from Porter’s early political theory of upward influence (Porter, Allen, & Angle, 1981), this study examined the role of relationship maintenance behavior and relationship quality in shaping threat perceptions in 2 different influence contexts. A survey of 319 working adults revealed that established patterns of relationship maintenance behavior predisposed employees to view situations involving upward influence to be more or less threatening. The current quality of the leader–member relationship was an even more substantive predictor. However, context moderated the relational effects. Relationship variables accounted for more variance in perceived threat when the influence was intended to advance legitimate (organizational), rather than ille
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-254
JournalCommunication Quarterly
StatePublished - 2011

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