Connect vs conquer? CEO gender and implicit motives
Journal of Managerial Psychology
Article publication date: 21 October 2020
Issue publication date: 30 January 2021
This study examined gender differences in CEOs' expression of implicit achievement, power and affiliation motivation. Building on the role congruity account of sex differences and similarities in motivation and existing literature on implicit motives, the study tested whether female CEOs would express higher affiliation motivation than male CEOs and similar levels of achievement motivation. In addition, gender differences in power motivation were explored.
The study used propensity score matching to generate a comparable sample of male and female CEOs from publicly traded companies. Subsequently, the authors content-coded CEO letters from annual reports using Winter's (1994) manual for scoring motive imagery in running text.
Overall, CEOs expressed more achievement and power motivation than affiliation motivation. Comparisons between male and female CEOs showed that female CEOs expressed lower power and higher affiliation motivation than male CEOs.
By integrating implicit motive theory with social role theory and the role congruity account of motivation, this study provides a theoretical framework and novel demonstration that understanding social roles and gender roles can lend insights into motive expression by CEOs.
The study uses established theory and a validated scoring method in a novel way by analyzing implicit motives from CEO letters, a critical communication channel in the CEO–shareholder relationship. In doing so, this study adopts a sociocultural perspective. Informed by the role congruity account of motivation, the study demonstrates the importance of social roles and gender roles for motivational displays.
This material is partly based on the dissertation of the first author, supported by Dublin City University Business School under the Daniel O'Hare Research Scholarship Scheme. The authors thank Alice H. Eagly (Northwestern University) for her feedback provided on earlier versions of this research presented at the European Association of Social Psychology/Society for Personality and Social Psychology Small Group Meeting in Berlin, Germany. Further, the authors thank Astrid Reichel (University of Salzburg) for her feedback provided at the Third HR Division International Conference of the Academy of Management in Dublin, Ireland. Earlier versions of this article were presented at the 18th European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology Congress in Dublin, Ireland; the 19th European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology Congress in Turin, Italy; and the 79th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management in Boston, USA The authors also thank Xenia Bolschakow (University of Marburg), Ricarda Schleupner (Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt), and Faly Rasamimanana (École Normale Supérieure Paris-Saclay) for their help in content-coding the study materials.
Brueckner, J., Bosak, J. and Lang, J.W.B. (2021), "Connect vs conquer? CEO gender and implicit motives", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp. 13-30. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMP-01-2019-0061
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