Self-promotion at work: when it succeeds and when it fails

Ha, Jungwoo (2017) Self-promotion at work: when it succeeds and when it fails. Doctoral thesis, University of London: London Business School.


People try to present themselves in a favorable light in a wide range of settings. In organizations, such efforts become more apparent because the way people present themselves - especially their competence - is a central determinant of their career outcomes. To this end, people often attempt to engage in self-promotion at work. Although research has thoroughly examined how self-promotion impacts others' judgments of the self-promoter, little research has examined how people themselves feel and react when they engage in, or fail to engage in, self-promotion behavior. In this dissertation, I examine the intrapsychic and downstream consequences of engaging in, as well as failing to engage in, self-promotion in organizational contexts. In the first part of the dissertation, I propose a theoretical model explaining how self-promotion affects inferences about the self, and how these inferences affect individuals' reactions to receiving (or not) organizational rewards. I developed this model with Sun Young Lee and Gillian Ku. Across three studies, using a measure and manipulation of self-promotion, I show that self-promotion increases beliefs about one's competence (Studies 1 and 2) and the extent to which one deserves organizational rewards (Studies 1-3). Additionally, I find that when rewards are not attained, the increased belief in one's deservingness caused by self-promotion leads people to judge the outcome and procedure of the reward allocation decision to be less satisfying and less fair, but the effects of self-promotion on satisfaction and fairness judgments disappear when rewards are attained (Study 3). In the second part of the dissertation, I continue to explore individuals' intrapsychic responses, but in the event of failing to engage in self-promotion. Self-promotion provides a vital opportunity for individuals to verify and construct their self-view, thus serving a self-verification function. To highlight the importance and implications of the self-verification aspects of self-promotion, I focus on instances in which individuals attempt to self-promote but are prevented from doing so (thwarted self-promotion). Four studies demonstrate that a lack of self-verification caused by thwarted self-promotion leads to competence uncertainty (Studies 4a-b), which generates counterproductive cognitive reactions (Studies 5 and 6). Additionally, I show that these consequences of a lack of self-verification due to thwarted self-promotion are driven by individuals with an internal locus of control, but not by those with an external locus of control (Study 6).

More Details

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subject Areas: Organisational Behaviour
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2022 11:52
Date of first compliant deposit: 10 Feb 2022
Subjects: Motivation
Industrial psychology
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2022 09:35

Export and Share


Published Version - Text
  • Restricted to Repository staff only
  • Request a copy


View details on Dimensions' website

Downloads from LBS Research Online

View details

Actions (login required)

Edit Item Edit Item