Who wants to get to the top? Class and lay theories about power
- We investigate class-based differences in the propensity to seek positions of power. We first propose that people's lay theories suggest that acquiring power requires exercising political dominance — manipulating one's way through the social world, relying on a pragmatic and Machiavellian approach to impression management and social relationships to get ahead. Then, drawing on empirical work showing that individuals with low social class are oriented toward interdependence and community, we hypothesize that these individuals will show less interest in seeking positions of power than others, because they feel less comfortable engaging in political dominance. We test these ideas in seven studies. Our findings indicate that, even though individuals with lower class see political dominance as a necessary and effective strategy for acquiring positions of power, and report that they have the competence to execute this strategy, they are reluctant to do so; as a result, they have a weaker tendency to seek positions of power. Consistent with our theorizing, we also find that individuals with lower class have a stronger desire to seek positions of power in organizations that provide an alternative route to power -- power through prestige -- and when they reconstrue power as a superordinate goal that suits their interdependent self-construal. These findings suggest that current institutional norms that reward political dominance may help explain why class inequalities persist and why creating class-based diversity in upper-level positions poses a serious challenge.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Belmi, Peter Ronald Villena
|Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
|Neale, Margaret Ann
|Neale, Margaret Ann
|Statement of responsibility
|Peter Ronald Villena Belmi.
|Submitted to the Graduate School of Business.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2015.
- © 2015 by Peter Ronald Villena Belmi
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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