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The paradox of agency: Feeling powerful reduces brokerage opportunity recognition yet increases willingness to broker


Landis, Blaine; Kilduff, Martin; Menges, Jochen; Kilduff, Gavin J (2018). The paradox of agency: Feeling powerful reduces brokerage opportunity recognition yet increases willingness to broker. Journal of Applied Psychology, 103(8):929-938.

Abstract

Research suggests positions of brokerage in organizational networks provide many benefits, but studiestend to assume everyone is equally able to perceive and willing to act on brokerage opportunities. Herewe challenge these assumptions in a direct investigation of whether people can perceive brokerageopportunities and are willing to broker. We propose that the psychological experience of powerdiminishes individuals’ ability to perceive opportunities to broker between people who are not directlyconnected in their networks, yet enhances their willingness to broker. In Study 1, we find that employeesin a marketing and media agency who had a high sense of power were likely to see fewer brokerageopportunities in their advice networks. In Study 2, we provide causal evidence for this claim in anexperiment where the psychological experience of power is manipulated. Those who felt powerful,relative to those who felt little power, tended to see fewer brokerage opportunities than actually existed,yet were more willing to broker, irrespective of whether there was a brokerage opportunity present.Collectively, these findings present a paradox of agency: Individuals who experience power are likely tounderperceive the very brokerage opportunities for which their sense of agency is suited.

Abstract

Research suggests positions of brokerage in organizational networks provide many benefits, but studiestend to assume everyone is equally able to perceive and willing to act on brokerage opportunities. Herewe challenge these assumptions in a direct investigation of whether people can perceive brokerageopportunities and are willing to broker. We propose that the psychological experience of powerdiminishes individuals’ ability to perceive opportunities to broker between people who are not directlyconnected in their networks, yet enhances their willingness to broker. In Study 1, we find that employeesin a marketing and media agency who had a high sense of power were likely to see fewer brokerageopportunities in their advice networks. In Study 2, we provide causal evidence for this claim in anexperiment where the psychological experience of power is manipulated. Those who felt powerful,relative to those who felt little power, tended to see fewer brokerage opportunities than actually existed,yet were more willing to broker, irrespective of whether there was a brokerage opportunity present.Collectively, these findings present a paradox of agency: Individuals who experience power are likely tounderperceive the very brokerage opportunities for which their sense of agency is suited.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Business Administration
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:2018
Deposited On:15 Aug 2019 14:45
Last Modified:01 Oct 2019 11:38
Publisher:American Psychological Association
ISSN:0021-9010
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Official URL. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1037/apl0000299
Official URL:https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2018-16132-001
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:17509

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