USF St. Petersburg campus Faculty Publications

SelectedWorks Author Profiles:

Sharon L. Segrest

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Purpose – Acts of interpersonal influence are observed throughout organizations, and most typically, in direct supervisor–subordinate relationships. However, researchers have focused less on subordinates bypassing the chain of command and targeting their supervisor’s supervisor with influence attempts. We conceptualize a new term, “leapfrogging,” as subordinates’ attempts to influence and manage the impressions of their supervisor’s supervisor. Here we focus on influencing the target’s perception of likability (the focus of ingratiation) and competence (the focus of self-promotion). This study focuses on its personal and situational antecedents. Design/methodology/approach – Given the central role of social exchange and psychological processes within this phenomenon, we build on a social exchange and a social cognition approach. Using a sample of 131 university support personnel service employees, hierarchical regression is used to test the hypotheses. Findings – The following antecedents of leapfrogging are hypothesized and tested: the subordinate personal characteristics of Machiavellianism, need for achievement, and fear of negative evaluation, and the situational/ relational characteristic of leader–member exchange (LMX). Of these potential antecedents, subordinate Machiavellianism and LMX were the strongest predictors, and subordinates’ need for achievement and fear of negative evaluation were moderate predictors. Practical implications – Leapfrogging occurs when actors are frustrated with their current situation and desire change. However, influence tactics aimed at a subordinate’s supervisor’s supervisor may further strain a low-quality leader–subordinate relationship. As actors become increasingly dissatisfied and leave, this may result in increased organizational costs related to the loss of experienced employees and the hiring and training of new ones. Originality/value – Most upward influence research has largely ignored subordinate influence attempts that go outside of the normal chain of command and target their boss’s boss. The present study addresses this gap in the literature by examining leapfrog behaviors. Although acknowledged in a limited manner as a legitimate organizational behavior, this topic has received virtually no empirical attention


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