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Beyond Pygmalion effect: the role of managerial perception

Takao Inamori (Department of Development and Economic Studies, University of Bradford, Bradford, UK)
Farhad Analoui (Department of Development and Economic Studies, University of Bradford, Bradford, UK)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 13 April 2010




The influences of perception have been studied in educational, army, sports and business settings but never in the development field. The Pygmalion effect generally suggests that the perceiver's positive expectation enhances the target's performance. This first time research seeks to explore how managerial perceptions of the aid workers of the local staffs affect their behaviour and performance in cross‐cultural project settings.


With the cooperation of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), 244 valid responses were obtained from the aid workers through a web‐based survey. Using factor analysis, five perception‐related factors and two behaviour‐related factors were extracted. Subsequently, in order to clarify the causal relationship, the above factors and one observed organisational performance variable were tested using path analysis.


Positive causal relationships were confirmed between two perception‐related factors and one behaviour‐related factor, and also between the behaviour‐related factor and the organisational performance variable. These results strongly suggest that aid workers' positive perception causes positive behaviour in local colleagues and will result in higher organisational performance.

Practical limitations/implications

Whilst avoiding generalisation, nevertheless, the results suggest that there is a need for people‐related and cross‐cultural management skills to ensure successful future activities, and stress management competencies to maintain the positive managerial perception on the part of the aid workers.


Despite the considerable influence of donor staff's managerial perception on the quality of the human relationships and organisational performance, this field of enquiry has remained neglected. The study provides first‐time empirical evidence on its significance.



Inamori, T. and Analoui, F. (2010), "Beyond Pygmalion effect: the role of managerial perception", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 29 No. 4, pp. 306-321.



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Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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