Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Forget about fair: It's better when bosses pick favorites

Date:
January 22, 2013
Source:
University of British Columbia
Summary:
A new study shows that bosses should pick favorites if they want top performing teams.

A new study shows that bosses should pick favourites if they want top performing teams.
Credit: © auremar / Fotolia

A new study from the University of British Columbia Sauder School of Business shows that bosses should pick favourites if they want top performing teams.

"Conventional wisdom tells us that we should treat everyone the same to create a collegial and productive work atmosphere," says Sauder Professor Karl Aquino, who co-authored the forthcoming study for the Journal of Business Ethics. "But our research shows this can be a disincentive for workers who would otherwise go above and beyond on behalf of the team with a little bit of extra attention."

In a series of experiments, the researchers found people are more likely to experience heightened self-esteem, follow workplace norms, and perform tasks that benefit a group if a leader treats them relatively better than other people in their group.

"Bosses are in a tricky position," says Aquino. "There's a risk that treating some employees better than the rest can turn others off. The key is to find the right balance -- treat everyone reasonably well, but treat those whose work counts most or who have been most productive just a little bit better."

Aquino says that, in general, working culture in the United States leans toward showing preferential treatment to star employees, while Canadian, Northern European and most Asian cultures take a more egalitarian approach. Aquino suggests managers should consider a middle path to avoid creating envy while sustaining high levels of productivity among their star players.

Background

In one of their experiments, the researchers looked at how preferential treatment from bosses affects a person's self-worth in their job and willingness to conform to workplace norms. A 357-person sample was surveyed online to assess their level of preferential treatment in the workplace. The workers were also asked to nominate a colleague to participate in a second online survey to report on whether the employee violated norms of efficient production and considerate conduct.

Respondents who reported receiving preferential treatment from their bosses reported feeling a greater sense of self-worth in their jobs. Their colleagues' assessment was that they behaved less antisocially and more productively at work.

Another study tested if preferentially treated group members were more likely to volunteer for a task that benefits the group. A sample of 41 students was divided into groups of three and asked to provide suggestions via email to a "team leader" for improving education at their university.

Participants received a group reply from the leader that included itemized responses to all the members' suggestions. In half of the groups, all recipients received the same email response which showed them preferential treatment over their peers. In the other half of the groups, the leader's responses showed positive but equal respect for all of the participant suggestions.

In a follow up survey, participants were asked to rate their willingness to take on a task to benefit a subsequent group discussion. Participants who received preferential treatment indicated that they were more willing to take on a group serving task than those who were treated well but equally.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of British Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Stefan Thau, Christian Trφster, Karl Aquino, Madan Pillutla, David Cremer. Satisfying Individual Desires or Moral Standards? Preferential Treatment and Group Members’ Self-Worth, Affect, and Behavior. Journal of Business Ethics, 2012; DOI: 10.1007/s10551-012-1287-5

Cite This Page:

University of British Columbia. "Forget about fair: It's better when bosses pick favorites." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122111757.htm>.
University of British Columbia. (2013, January 22). Forget about fair: It's better when bosses pick favorites. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122111757.htm
University of British Columbia. "Forget about fair: It's better when bosses pick favorites." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122111757.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) — British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) — Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Drone King Says the Revolution Depends on Regulators

China's Drone King Says the Revolution Depends on Regulators

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) — Comparing his current crop of drones to early personal computers, DJI founder Frank Wang says the industry is poised for a growth surge - assuming regulators in more markets clear it for takeoff. Jon Gordon reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
London Mayor Outlines 50-Year Vision Ahead of Population Rise

London Mayor Outlines 50-Year Vision Ahead of Population Rise

AFP (July 30, 2014) — London Mayor Boris Johnson outlined his infrastructure plan for the British capital over the next 50 years on Wednesday, with a focus on how to cope with a population expected to reach 11 million. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins