Reputational Concerns and Advice-Seeking at Work
95 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2023
Date Written: August 10, 2023
We examine the impact of reputational concerns on seeking advice. While seeking can improve performance, it may affect how others perceive the seeker's competence. In an online experiment with white-collar professionals (N=2,521), we test how individuals navigate this tradeoff and if others' beliefs about competence change it. We manipulate visibility of the decision to seek and stereotypes about competence. Results show a sizable and inefficient decline in advice-seeking when visible to a manager. Higher-order beliefs about competence cannot mediate this inefficiency. We find no evidence that managers interpret advice-seeking negatively, documenting a misconception that may hinder knowledge flows in organizations.
Keywords: advice-seeking, reputational concerns, stereotypes, higher-order beliefs, knowledge flows, experiment
JEL Classification: J16, J24, D83, D91, M51
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