Impacts of salespeople’s biased and unbiased performance attributions on job satisfaction : the concept of misattributed satisfaction

in European Journal of Marketing, 55 (2)

par Lai-Bennejean, Christine ; Beitelspacher, Lauren

2021 - 468-496 p. | En anglais

This article investigates an under-researched area, the impact of causal attributions (i.e., causal stability and company-related/-unrelated attributions) on salespeople’s job satisfaction following their performance appraisal. A pretest and a between-subjects experimental study test the effect of accurate or biased perceptions of causal attributions on salespeople’s job satisfaction. Data collected from 209 salespeople provide evidence that they make perceptual attribution errors in their appraisals of the performance outcome they achieve or do not achieve. When salespeople correctly attribute their performance, causal stability affects their job satisfaction. However, company-related attributions affect their satisfaction only in the case of a poor performance outcome. As expected, salespeople who make biased attributions experience misattributed or “unwarranted” satisfaction or dissatisfaction, a higher or lower satisfaction level than they would have experienced had they made proper causal attributions. Using Weiner's theory of emotion and motivation as a theoretical framework, this research confirms that cognitive appraisals of event outcomes (in this case performance reviews) impacts salespeople's emotional experience. Furthermore, causal ascriptions following the salesperson's performance appraisal affect job satisfaction. This study discusses how managers can ensure continued satisfaction of their salespeople, which constitutes a stable source of motivation, by understanding their performance attributions. This research introduces a new concept of misattributed job satisfaction or dissatisfaction. While anecdotally some scholars have investigated when salespeople play “the blame game,” this research shows how salespeople correctly or incorrectly ascribe blame for the outcomes and the impact on job satisfaction.

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