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Does the leader's negative feedback benefit employees' creative process engagement? The mediating effect of impression management motivation

Ting Deng (School of Economics and Management, Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu, China)
Yanzhao Lai (School of Economics and Management, Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu, China)
Chunyong Tang (School of Economics and Management, Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu, China)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 13 February 2023

Issue publication date: 8 March 2023

822

Abstract

Purpose

Drawing from impression management theory, this study examines how the leader's negative feedback affects the employees' creative process engagement (CPE) and whether impression management motivation plays a mediating role in this process. In addition, the moderating role of face consciousness is analyzed in the relationship between negative feedback and impression management motivation.

Design/methodology/approach

A time-lagged design with three data-collection points was implemented based on a dataset of two studies of follower–leader pairs (Ns = 165, 30 and 682, 89) in China. Ordinary least squares regression analyses were conducted to test the hypotheses.

Findings

The leader's negative feedback positively affected employees' CPE via impression management motivation. The relationship was stronger when face consciousness salience was high.

Practical implications

This study suggests that negative feedback is also valuable. Supervisors should learn how to stimulate employees' impression management motivation when delivering negative feedback and ensure that employees know that CPE can bring help and status rewards. Moreover, supervisors may consider using face strategies when providing negative feedback.

Originality/value

This study provides new insights into the association between the leader's negative feedback and employees' CPE by impression management as a psychological mechanism and face consciousness as an important boundary condition. It lays a foundation for further systematic research on CPE based on sociological theory.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under grant numbers 71832007 and 71572157.

Citation

Deng, T., Lai, Y. and Tang, C. (2023), "Does the leader's negative feedback benefit employees' creative process engagement? The mediating effect of impression management motivation", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 44 No. 1, pp. 103-119. https://doi.org/10.1108/LODJ-12-2021-0571

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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