Vijaya Venkataramani, Associate Professor, R.H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland
Although employees come up with creative ideas, many of them do not get endorsed or implemented by managers. In shedding light on this phenomenon, we predict that managers who have lower social status in the organisation are more likely to reject employees’ novel ideas. Guided by associative-propositional evaluation theory (AP-E; Gawronski & Bodenhausen, 2011), we propose that employees’ novel (as compared to more familiar) ideas trigger greater feelings of threat and vigilance in low-status managers that these employees, if successful, could potentially infringe on their domains at work. As a result, such low-status managers feel the need to be territorial, i.e. to maintain and protect their existing work domains from potential infringement by others, and therefore, refrain from endorsing their employees’ novel ideas. Moreover, we propose that such negative effects are attenuated when low status managers have high levels of identification with their organisations, allowing them to subordinate their self-interest to the interest of the organisation. We find support for these arguments in several field and lab studies. We discuss implications for the literatures on creativity recognition, territoriality and status in organisations.