Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

9-2017

Abstract

This research tested the idea that the perception of the state of the macroeconomic environment impacts the psychology underlying an essential organizational function: The evaluation of employees’ work and the associated promotion and demotion decisions. We predicted that when the macroeconomic environment is perceived to be more (less) prosperous, people’s generalized sense of the extent to which individuals have control over outcomes increases (decreases), leading them to attribute more (less) responsibility for work outcomes to individuals rather than contextual influences. In Study 1, we tested this theory using data from 124,400 respondents surveyed across 57 countries and 19 years and data about objective indicators of their macroeconomic environments. We found that in more prosperous times, people reported a higher generalized sense of control and were less likely to believe that contextual influences, such as luck, matter for work success. In Studies 2 and 3, we manipulated the perception of the macroeconomic environment among employees working in organizations, and we found that those who perceived their economic environment to be more prosperous had a higher generalized sense of control and in turn attributed more responsibility for a work outcome to the individual performing the work, resulting in more extreme promotion and demotion decisions. The consideration of the macroeconomic context of organizational decision making bridges the macro–micro divide in organizational sciences to provide a novel explanation for individual psychology and behavior underlying fundamental organizational processes.

Keywords

Attribution of responsibility, Macroeconomic environment, Generalized sense of control, Promotion and demotion decisions

Discipline

Industrial and Organizational Psychology | Organizational Behavior and Theory

Research Areas

Organisational Behaviour and Human Resources

Publication

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

Volume

144

First Page

11

Last Page

24

ISSN

0749-5978

Identifier

10.1016/j.obhdp.2017.09.003

Publisher

Elsevier

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Additional URL

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.obhdp.2017.09.003

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