Reputational Concerns and Advice-Seeking at Work

52 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2023 Last revised: 16 May 2024

See all articles by Lea Heursen

Lea Heursen

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Svenja Friess

Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition; Munich Graduate School of Economics, LMU Munich

Marina Chugunova

Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition

Date Written: October 20, 2023

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of reputational concerns on seeking advice. While seeking advice 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 advice 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 and curb learning.

Keywords: advice-seeking, reputational concerns, stereotypes, higher-order beliefs, knowledge flows, experiment

JEL Classification: J16, J24, D83, D91, M51

Suggested Citation

Heursen, Lea and Friess, Svenja and Chugunova, Marina, Reputational Concerns and Advice-Seeking at Work (October 20, 2023). Max Planck Institute for Innovation & Competition Research Paper No. 23-17, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4538216 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4538216

Lea Heursen

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin ( email )

Humboldt Universität
Unter den Linden 6
Berlin, 10099
Germany

Svenja Friess

Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition ( email )

Marstallplatz 1
Munich, Bayern 80539
Germany
08924246569 (Phone)
80539 (Fax)

Munich Graduate School of Economics, LMU Munich ( email )

Kaulbachstrasse 45
München, 80539
Germany

Marina Chugunova (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition ( email )

Munich, 80539
Germany

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