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Effect of internal competitive work environment on working smart and emotional exhaustion: the moderating role of time management

Ashish Kalra (Department of Marketing, La Salle University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)
Raj Agnihotri (Ivy College of Business, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA)
Sunali Talwar (University of Applied Sciences for Media, Communication and Management, Frankfurt, Germany)
Amin Rostami (Labovitz School of Business and Economics, University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, Minnesota, USA)
Prabhat K. Dwivedi (Department of Management, STEP-HBTI, Kanpur, India)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 11 November 2020

Issue publication date: 8 February 2021




Although the role of the internal competitive work environment is important, it remains understudied in a business-to-business (B2B) selling context. Grounded in job-demands resources theory, this study aims to investigate the relationships between internal competitive work environment, working smart, emotional exhaustion and sales performance.


Data were gathered from 147 salespeople working for a financial service firm. Sales performance ratings were reported by supervisors. Hypotheses were tested using structural equation modeling.


This study finds dual effects of the internal competitive work environment on salesperson’s job outcomes. Although such an environment improves working smart behaviors, which increases sales performance, it also increases emotional exhaustion, which reduces sales performance.

Research limitations/implications

This study extends job-demands resources theory by proposing internal competitive work environment as a challenge demand and extends the theory by proposing that a salesperson’s time management skills as a personal resource that may reduce such environment’s deleterious effects.

Practical implications

Sales managers should consider the complex nature of increasing competition within the organization and assess the ability of their workforce to effectively manage their time. Training programs that develop time management skills should also be promoted.


To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study is among the first to consider the multifaceted effects of the internal competitive work environment in a B2B sales context. By focusing on the duality of the work environment, this study provides a greater understanding of the influences of organizational factors on sales performance.



Kalra, A., Agnihotri, R., Talwar, S., Rostami, A. and Dwivedi, P.K. (2021), "Effect of internal competitive work environment on working smart and emotional exhaustion: the moderating role of time management", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 36 No. 2, pp. 269-280.



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