Self-Interest and Organizational Performance: An Empirical Examination with U.S. and Brazilian Managers
41 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2009
Date Written: January, 15 2009
The literature has drifted towards a polarized view of managers as either individuals concerned with mitigating self-interest (e.g. agency and organizational politics theories) or individuals who actively motivate and engage team members in the pursuit of common organizational goals (e.g. shared cognition and justice theories). Using a survey sample of 419 U.S. and Brazilian managers, we propose and find instead that managers exhibit complex attitudes and behaviors that do not reflect a single perspective of human behavior in the workplace. Managers who perceive self-interest to be common are not necessarily less concerned with other issues unrelated to self-interest (e.g. fairness and adequate treatment for team members). Managers also appear to adopt behaviors that blend recommendations consistent with multiple theories. For instance, we find that managers who are concerned with justice not only emphasize practices to foster justice, but also practices that directly follow from agency theory (such as performance evaluation and incentives); and the joint emphasis in those practices appear to positively influence organizational performance. By outlining the predictions of distinct theories and exploring their possible interactions, our study contributes with a more complete picture of the interplay between managerial attitudes, managerial behavior and performance.
Keywords: Self-interest, opportunism, agency theory, organizational politics, shared mental models, justice
JEL Classification: D21, D23, L21, M52, M54
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation