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Effect of employee's upward influence tactics on managerial decision making.


Employees are not passive recipients of the decisions at the work place, but are active players in influencing decisions, especially those decisions which are related to their self interests (Ferris & Judge, 1991). There has been a lot of research on the manager's attempts to influence subordinate, called downward influence, to accomplish the organizational goals. Leadership research is one example of this stream of study. In the last twenty five years or so, research has also focused more attention on the question of 'managing your boss' (Gabarro & Kotter, 1980) or subordinate's upward influence attempts to achieve personal or organizational goals. This research can be divided into two parts; one identifying the situational, leader, and subordinate related antecedents of the upward influence tactics (e.g., Ansari & Kapoor, 1987; Kumar, 1990), and the second studying the consequences of upward influence attempts (e.g., Gardner & Martinko, 1988). This paper focuses on the latter issue, and specifically on managerial decision making. What is the effect of upward influence tactics on managerial decision making? And how does this effect take place? The paper analyses above issues with reference to manager-subordinate dyad in the context of subordinate's personal goals.

The influence attempts are broadly classified into hard, soft, and rational tactics. While the soft tactics, like ingratiation, have been substantially investigated in the past similar investigation of hard tactics such as upward appeal, and coalition, has relatively lagged, even though the latter have been discussed elsewhere in other contexts e.g. union-management negotiations/interactions (Varman & Bhatnagar, 1999), or influential mentor-protege dyads (Fagenson, 1989). It is important to understand the combination of these tactics also, because past evidence suggests that individuals use multiple tactics in combination to achieve their personal or organizational ends (e.g. Kipnis & Schmidt, 1988). The current paper contributes to the influence theory by addressing these issues.

Political Perspective

The rationalist-objective view of organization is too simplistic and naive, especially in decision making situations where there exists considerable ambiguity and subjectivity. According to Thompson (1967), the search for certainty led theorists to consider organizations to be closed systems. The goal of economic efficiency is sought to be achieved through control in the form of structure, rules, and staffing. But organizations are open systems too because of uncertainty due to lack of complete understanding and control on variables inside the organizations, due to interdependency of various parts, and due to organization's interaction with the environment. Both the closed and open forms are evident in complex organizations (Thompson, 1967).

In accordance with the open system view, Pfeffer (1981:6) conceptualized organizations as political entities as against mere rational entities, and stated that, "politics involved how differing preferences are resolved in conflicts over the allocation of scarce resources". Also, political activities are "attempt to influence decisions over critical issues that are not readily resolved through the introduction of new data and in which there are differing views" (Pfeffer, 1981: 6). Thus, resolution of different preferences cannot be completely accomplished by means of objective data when the decision involves complexity and ambiguity. The political metaphor presumes that "it is the relative power of the various social actors that provides both the sufficient and necessary way of resolving the decision" (Pfeffer, 1981:30).

Not only does political behaviors achieve tangible material ends, but also involves symbolism. Managers seek symbolic-psychological rewards in addition to the tangible material rewards e.g. seek approval of significant others. Specifically, Tetlock (1985:308-09) posited that managers' actions are initiated by three underlying motives, "motivation to protect and enhance one's social image"; "motivation to protect and enhance one's self image"; and "desire to gain control of desirable material resources". Further, these three motives are interlinked such that attainment of one is associated with attainment of the other.

Political behaviors are means to achieve above ends, and can take both covert and overt forms. In its explicit, overt form, it is study of power in action (Pfeffer, 1981). In its subtle, covert form "political behaviors involve management of shared meaning in such a way as to produce desired, self serving responses or outcomes" (Ferris, Fedor & King, 1994: 4). These shared meanings provide guidelines for future interpretations and organizational behaviors. Thus organization politics has dual nature, both in terms of means and ends. It is pervasive feature of organization due to diversity of managerial interests, and scarcity of resources. Political behaviors are deliberate attempts to influence decisions. But at the same time, which behaviors are political is a difficult question as it is highly organization context specific, as in case of power, which is difficult to define sometimes, but there is an agreement as to who possesses it (Wayne & Liden, 1995).

Upward Influence (UI)

Organization politics (OP) manifests at different levels. It may be exercised at inter-organizational levels, intra-organizational levels (e.g. between departments), or at individual levels (e.g. supervisor-subordinate dyads). In this paper we focus on the last form of OP variously termed as influence tactics and impression management. Influence tactics represents political behavior which people at work use to influence their colleagues, subordinates or superiors to obtain personal benefits or to fulfill organizational goals (Kipnis, Schmidt & Wilkinson, 1980). Influence tactics can be exercised in upward, downward and lateral directions. Upward influence behavior refers to the manager-subordinate dyadic level and is defined as "attempts to influence someone in formal hierarchy of authority in organization" (Liden & Mitchell, 1988:572). Like other forms of political behaviors, UI can also take overt or covert forms. For example, whereas pressure tactics are explicit and belong to first category, ingratiation falls in the latter category.

Influence tactics classification has been shaped by following notable contributions--Gardner & Martinko (1988), Kipnis et al. (1980), Tedeschi & Melburg (1984) and Yukl & Falbe (1990). Tedeschi & Melburg (1984) proposed a categorization scheme (Fig.1) which provides a convenient framework to classify influence tactics.

Influence behaviors can be strategic or long term, and tactical or short term along one dimension. On the other dimension, the behavior can be defensive or aggressive. Strategic assertive behaviors refer to those which enhance prestige, status, credibility, trustworthiness and reputation over a period of time. These are more long term in nature and not necessarily focused on individual's immediate concerns. Such behaviors include series of actions aimed towards achieving long term goals. Strategic defensive behaviors include alcoholism, drug abuse, and learned helplessness, and these are individual's reactions to situations where they feel helpless over a period of time. These are of not much interest here. Tactical defensive behaviors mostly refer to reactive influence behaviors to handle negative outcomes such as poor performance, and include excuses, justifications, and disclaimers. These again are of not much interest here, because these are ex-post explanations, which are relatively less political. The last category, i.e. tactical assertive behaviors are the focus of present paper because these are proactively used by employees to influence immediate or short term decisions affecting them (Ferris & Judge, 1991). This is the category which has been extensively investigated as well in the influence literature.

Kipnis et al. (1980); Kipnis & Schmidt (1988); Schriesheim & Hinkin (1990); and Yukl & Falbe (1990) conducted empirical studies and identified following upward influence tactics: assertiveness, ingratiation, rationality, exchange, upward appeal and coalitions (see table 1 for definitions). Further Yukl & Tracey (1992) and Yukl, Falbe & Yuon (1993) suggested and found empirical support for more tactics- personal appeal, legitimating, consultation and inspirational appeals. They found that while first two are used in lateral direction, latter two are used in downward direction more often. Further development in the field saw Yukl, Chavez & Seifert (2005) identify and test two more influence tactics, collaboration and apprising. Both were validated as new constructs, but were tested only in downward and lateral direction. Since they are close to exchange and rational persuasion, they have not been included in the current paper. Out of eight tactics, ingratiation is covert in nature and its success depends on act appearing genuine to the target. All others are more explicit in nature.

Liden & Mitchell (1988), Wayne & Ferris (1990), and Wayne & Liden (1995) further expanded the UI field by defining and identifying impression management behaviors. "These are the behaviors which individuals employ to protect their self image, influence the way they are perceived by others or both" (Wayne & Liden, 1995 :233). These behaviors are covert in nature, and if the target is able to identify agent's real intentions, then these tactics can prove to be counterproductive. Research has classified subordinate's impression management tactics mainly under two categories-other or supervisor focused tactics, and self focused tactics (Higgins, Judge & Ferris, 2003; Liden & Mitchell, 1988). Ingratiation is an example of supervisor focused tactics. These are attempts to please one's superior, using tactics like flattery, opinion conformity, and personal favors. Self focused tactics are related to projecting one's work or non-work related positive attributes, and are attempts to project oneself more competent at work. Self focused tactics are self promotion tactics including behaviors like self descriptions, entitlements, enhancements, boasting, false modesty etc (Gardner & Martinko, 1988). Entitlement involves claiming credit for positive events more than one's contribution. Enhancement is presenting one's own performance in a positive light, enhancing its importance and criticality. To summarize, UI tactics can be classified under supervisor focused and self promotion tactics. Former includes covert tactics like ingratiation, and more overt tactics like upward appeal, and coalition formation. Latter includes behaviors like entitlements and enhancements.

UI Tactics Meta-categories

Kipnis & Schmidt (1985) suggested three meta-categories--soft, hard, and rationality tactics to classify various UI tactics. These categories were subsequently used and confirmed in many empirical studies (Deluga, 1991; Somech & Drach--Zahavi, 2002; Thacker & Wayne, 1995). Whereas soft tactics are more covert in nature, hard and rationality tactics are more explicit. Kipnis & Schmidt (1983) suggested that past studies invariably found three underlying dimensions of influence tactics- assertive directive tactics, rational tactics, and non-directive or manipulative tactics. Kipnis & Schmidt (1985) also identified these meta-categories across distinct decision situations (influence at home used by married couples, and influence used by managers), and cultural contexts (United States, Australia, and Great Britain). "Hard tactics involve demanding, shouting and assertiveness. With soft tactics, people act nice and flatter others to get their way. Rational tactics involve use of logic and bargaining to demonstrate why compliance or compromise is the best solution" (Kipnis & Schmidt, 1985:42). Kipnis & Schmidt (1988) cluster analyzed and identified following four categories of managers using different UI approaches --shotguns, ingratiators, tacticians and bystanders. Shotguns employed multiple UI tactics, but mainly relied on aggressiveness; ingratiators mainly used friendliness tactics; tacticians used reasoning based tactics; and bystanders rarely used UI tactics. Thus shotguns employed hard tactics approach, ingratiators employed soft tactics approach, and tacticians employed rationality approach. This further confirms the statistical validity of the three meta-categories.

Hard tactics are used when agent believes that directive and aggressive behavior can result in target complying with a request. This is more likely to occur when agent has greater power relative to target, and/or agents' objective is organizational rather than personal, and/ or agents' expectation of their ability to influence (using soft tactics or rational persuasion) target is low (Kipnis & Schmidt, 1985). In case of UI, agent has natural disadvantage due to lesser position/ authority power compared to target. So in this case, agents' depend on other informal sources of power such as their expertise, or affiliation to coalition like trade union, or close relations with a higher authority, to tilt power equation in their favor. In the absence of such a source, agents are more likely to rely either on rational persuasion and soft tactics. Kipnis & Schmidt (1983, 1985) found in their study that the agents' who have more power relative to the targets, used hard tactics more frequently; those who have lesser power, used soft tactics; and when neither party has a real power advantage, rational tactics were used more frequently. Somech & Drach --Zahavi (2002) confirmed above results for soft and hard tactics.

UI tactics defined earlier (table 1) can be grouped under these meta- categories. Soft tactics include ingratiation (supervisor focused flattery, opinion conformity, favors), consultation, inspirational appeals, and self promotion (entitlements, enhancements etc); rational persuasion includes reasoning; and hard tactics include pressure, coalition, exchange, and upward appeal. Past studies (Kipnis & Schmidt, 1983; Somech & Drach--Zahavi, 2002) have categorized exchange tactics under rational persuasion mainly because of rational quid- pro- quo that takes place between two parties. But in the case of UI with subordinates having a natural relative power disadvantage, it is expected that subordinates perceive exchange a hard tactic because they can use it only by acquiring and brandishing their own informal power source such as expertise. While hard tactics are based on some source of formal or informal power, soft tactics are based on agent's ability to elicit favorable affective feelings in the target, such as liking for agent and perception of similarity with agent. And rational persuasion depends on agent's ability to reason which elicits 'perception of competence' about agent in the target.

Decision Making Context

In general, managerial decision making context provides a relevant setting in which influence tactics come into play and are discernible. The major reason is the presence of situational antecedents of ambiguity, uncertainty, accountability, and outcome instrumentality in majority of managerial decisions (Ferris & Judge, 1991; Ferris et al., 1994). Ambiguity and uncertainty in the decision situation can mean lack of information, and in the absence of objective criteria, decisions are taken based on subjective criteria. Thus it provides agents an opportunity to influence the stakeholders' shared understanding related to the decision. Accountability to significant others is another condition which reinforces influence behavior. Tetlock (1985) defined 'acceptability heuristic' as a simple mechanism to cope with accountability which involves taking action that are believed to be acceptable to influential others to whom one must justify, answer or report. The instrumentality of influence behavior also affects its use, and if individuals perceive environment as rewarding such behavior, they will indulge in it, even it could mean misrepresenting figures (Ferris et. al., 1994).

Managers use influence tactics either to influence decisions related to their personal outcomes such as salary raise, or to influence decisions related to organizational outcomes such as adoption of new idea (Kipnis et. al, 1980). Agent's objective is one of the main factors that determine the choice of a particular upward tactic. Yukl & Falbe (1990) found in their study that, agent's use soft tactics like ingratiation more often than hard tactics (e.g. pressurizing) to achieve personal goals. With respect to hard tactics, the decision context provides the basis on which the tactic may be termed as hard or not. For example, employing upward appeal for achieving certain personal benefit may appear hard. From superior's point of view such tactics may be hard because it may threaten their own position/ influence vis-a-vis their subordinate within the organization.

There have been number of empirical studies evaluating the impact of influence tactics on various managerial decisions. Specifically, there has been more focus on human resource decisions like performance appraisals (Dulebohn & Ferris, 1999; Judge & Ferris, 1993; Wayne & Liden, 1995; Wayne, Liden, Graf & Ferris, 1997), promotion (Thacker & Wayne, 1995; Wayne et al., 1997), salary raise (Wayne et al., 1997), career success (Judge & Bretz, 1994), and interviews (Baron, 1989; Gilmore & Ferris, 1989), which reflect agent's personal goals.

It is difficult to set an objective evaluation criterion in above decisions, and decision maker depends on subjective evaluations (Gilmore & Ferris, 1989). In case of performance appraisals and interviews, performance information is either too subjective or incomplete. So these decisions are susceptible to influence tactics. Again, decision situations such as performance appraisal involve social actors accountable to significant others, e.g. appraisee to appraiser. Appraisees try to influence appraisers through various tactics like opinion conformity and self promotion. Then these decisions have high instrumentality, e.g. appraisals are linked to apraisee's salary raise and promotion decisions.

Decision Making Responses

What are the decision maker's or target's reactions to agent's UI attempts focused on certain decision? Decision maker may either comply with the agent's request or expectations, or may resist the request, or may internalize or commit to it. Specifically, Falbe & Yukl (1992) found that softer tactics result in target's task commitment, whereas harder tactics cause target's compliance or resistance to the decision. And they argued that UI tactics ensuring task commitment will be more successful than those causing only behavioral compliance.

Mediating Variables

The above target reactions and effects can be explained by those variables which mediate between UI tactics and these reactions. In the case of personal goals, the mediating variables represent various affective reactions or perceptions that target forms about agent as a result of different UI tactics. Based on these reactions, the target either complies or commits or resists the agent's requests. These variables are presented in model shown in fig 1. This model draws from past conceptual and empirical work conducted by Bartol & Martin (1990), Ferris & Judge (1991), Kipnis & Schmidt (1983, 1985, 1988), and Wayne & Liden (1995). The proposed model articulates the intervening processes and expands on the conceptualization of Ferris & Judge (1991). To ensure parsimony in the model, various tactics are grouped under three meta-categories: soft tactics, hard tactics, and rational persuasion. These categories are labeled from the standpoint of the agent using it.

Soft tactics like ingratiation are more likely to elicit favorable reactions in target such as 'liking' for subordinate, and perception of 'fit' with self due to perceived similarity with some standard (Ferris & Judge, 1991; Wayne & Liden, 1995; Wayne, Liden, Graf & Ferris, 1997). Past studies (e.g. Wayne & Liden, 1995) have confirmed the direct effect of soft tactics on liking, and mediating effect of fit or perceived similarity between soft tactics and liking. Soft tactics like opinion conformity create an impression of compatibility in thinking and values in the target with respect to agent. People need to confirm self concepts in the eyes of others, and when agent conforms to the target's opinions, latter's self image is validated and reinforced (Wayne & Liden, 1995). Similarly, flattery enhances target's self image. The target's perception of similarity with agent correlates highly with their liking for the agent (Liden, Wayne, & Stilwell, 1993; Wayne & Liden, 1995). But above studies have also proved that 'perceived similarity' and 'liking' are distinct constructs. Despite the positive effect of soft tactics, these need to be used subtly because overdoing such tactics can have negative effect on 'liking' and 'perceived fit'. Since these tactics are manipulative and non directive, their success depends on the agent's ability to create an impression that their opinions about target are genuine, e. g. opinion conformity and flattery are projected as agent's genuine opinions, and favor doing is projected as agent's genuine attempt at organization citizenship behavior. But overdoing these may expose the real intent, and will affect the mediating variables negatively.

Self promotion is another soft tactic that can have opposing effects on target. On the positive side, self promotion can cause a perception of agent's competence. But past evidence has been contradictory on the positive effects of self promotion. Meta- analysis by Higgins, Judge & Ferris (2003) showed that, in the context of performance appraisals, self promotion has a negative effect on the ratings, while in the context of interviews it has a positive effect on selection decisions. The opposite effect in the two HR decision contexts can be due to different timeframes available for the decisions. In case of interviews, the decision is taken in a very short span of time, whereas appraisal decisions are based on yearlong observation and data. In the former case, interviewer has no means to check the veracity of the interviewee's claims, but in the latter appraiser does have time and means to check the appraisee's claims. Thus, it is proposed that self promotion can affect 'perception of competence' positively as well as negatively. Also, Ferris et al., (1994); Wayne & Liden (1995) proved in the context of appraisals that self- promotion has a negative effect on 'liking'. This effect may be mediated by 'perception of competence' or it may be direct (fig. 2). 'Perception of competence' may affect 'liking' and 'fit perception' positively and vice versa (Wayne et al., 1997). Supervisors are likely to develop positive affect towards competent subordinates. Also, supervisors may consider subordinates similar to them or liked by them as more competent. These directions need to be established while testing the model.

Rational persuasion or reasoning is another meta-category likely to affect 'perception of competence' positively. It has been shown to be most effective UI tactic (Bhatnagar, 1993; Yukl & Tracey, 1992). The three mediating variables- liking, perception of fit, and perception of competence- influence the managerial decisions.

The third meta-category, hard UI tactics, draws different reactions from the decision maker. Analyzed from the fit/ liking/ competency framework, hard tactics are more likely to evoke negative reactions in the target. Hard tactics involve explicit use of power, and aims at ensuring compliance from the target against their free will. One of the factors determining use of hard tactics is the anticipated resistance of the target to the request (Kipnis & Schmidt, 1983), and ensuring compliance is bound to generate negative 'affect' in the target. Wayne et al. (1997) and Falbe & Yukl (1992) found some support for the above hypothesis.

But it does not imply that hard tactics are not effective in getting short term decisions in agent's favor. Dependency perspective proposed by Bartol & Martin (1988, 1990) is useful in explaining the process that makes hard tactics successful. According to this perspective, managers depend on their subordinates for their own outcomes. Dependencies arise primarily because subordinates control certain resources e.g. performance capabilities, which must be expended so that managers can achieve their goals. The sources of this dependency (for supervisor) and power (for subordinate) can be different such as subordinate's expertise, political connection (upward) within organization, and affiliation to dominant coalition outside work group like union. Managers control these dependencies by utilizing their own power, such as reward allocation to subordinates (Bartol & Martin, 1988). Subordinates will use hard influence tactics based on these dependencies, and in order to safeguard their own interest, decision makers comply with the subordinates' requests. Targets will resist acceding to the agent's request if the hard tactic is not potent enough. This will happen when either supervisor's dependency on subordinate is not high or the threat to disruption of the dependency relation is not strong enough (Bartol & Martin, 1990). Bartol & Martin (1990) termed this perception of threat as dependency threat perception (DTP) of the decision maker. Hard tactics make the dependency threat credible for the target. For example upward appeal by approaching target's superior has considerable dependency threat for target because the higher authority might be controlling the rewards/ promotion of the target. Mere dependency relation may not sway decision in agent's favor, but a potent actual or perceived threat to its disruption may sway decision in agent's favor. For example mere expertise may not ensure higher salary raise for subordinate, but a threat to leave job may. Thus DTP mediates effect of hard tactics on management decisions.

Further, DTP is likely to influence 'liking' negatively, which explains why targets resist the agent's demand when it is based on hard influence tactic.

Personal Goal Context

Direct or indirect empirical evidence exists for the 'soft UI-liking/fit-commitment', 'reasoning-competence-commitment', and 'hard UI-DTP-compliance or resistance' frameworks, in the context of agent's personal decisions. Ferris et al. (1994); Wayne & Liden (1995) tested 'soft UI-liking/fit-performance rating' model. They found support for positive effects of supervisor focused UI (ingratiation) and demographic similarity, and negative effect of self promotion on rating mediated by dyadic 'liking' and 'perceived similarity'. Pulakos & Wexley (1983) found significantly lower performance ratings for subordinate when supervisor-subordinate dyads had mutual perceptual dissimilarity. Wayne et al. (1997) found support for similar model (UI-liking-HRM decisions) in the context of performance ratings, promotability, and salary progression. They also found some support for negative effect of hard tactics (bargaining, assertiveness, higher authority) on these decisions due to negative effect on mediating variables.

In the context of interviews, self promotion has been consistently found to positively influence selection decision (Higgins et al., 2003). But overdoing it has negative effects (Baron, 1986). Interviewers try to select candidates who 'fit' with some standard of evaluation. Usually they select a candidate similar to themselves, especially when interviewer is the future supervisor of the candidate.

'Reasoning-competence- HRM decisions' has also got support in the appraisal context (Wayne et al, 1997). It has been consistently shown to be the most effective tactic across different HRM decisions (Higgins et al., 2003). Along with ingratiation, it is also the more preferred tactics used in upward direction (Kipnis et al., 1980). 'Hard UI-DTPHRM decisions' framework has also got empirical support. Bartol & Martin (1990) found that managers awarded higher salary to subordinates when they were dependent on subordinate's expertise. Also managers awarded higher salary when subordinates had political connections and they made credible dependency threat. Another study by Deshpande, Schoderbek & Joseph (1994) proved that both performance level and organizational connections of a subordinate influenced the promotion decision. Subordinate's connections had an impact only when manager was aware of subordinate's organizational connections (Deshpande et al., 1994). Gould & Penley (1984) also found support for positive effect of networking on salary progression of managers. Also, proteges 'having an influential mentor' experienced higher promotion rate as found in an empirical study by Fagenson (1989).

'Fit/ liking' and 'DTP' perspectives have similar effect on employee relationship management (ERM) decisions. Two ERM issues, which are especially critical in supervisor- subordinate relationships are grievance handling and discipline management. Soft UI tactics such as ingratiation develop close supervisor-subordinate dyadic relations through its effect on 'liking' and 'perceived similarity'. Liden, Wayne & Stilwell (1993) showed that, expectation of work competence, perceived similarity, and liking has a positive influence on development of high LMX between supervisors and subordinates. Thus UI tactics such as ingratiation, and rationality, help subordinates become 'in group' members, enjoying high LMX relation with supervisor, characterized by mutual trust, liking, respect, and reciprocal influence. Close dyadic relations affect the discipline and grievance management systems, as immediate supervisor is also the first line regulator of these systems. The effects can be both positive and negative. It is expected that in close dyadic relations there will be lesser grievances, lesser filing, and grievances may be resolved through informal mechanisms at the first level itself. The relationship between supervisor and subordinate also affects administration of discipline. While close relations between punishing agent and the punished is a key factor in effective delivery of punishment (Arvey & Ivancevich, 1980), it also poses problem in unbiased discipline administration. Supervisors avoid taking uncomfortable disciplinary action against those who are close to them (Grote, 1995).

Hard UI tactics also affect ERM decisions through DTP of supervisor. One of the biggest sources of power for a worker is the union membership, which becomes source of dependency threat for supervisor. The threat may be an action by unions against supervisor's interest if subordinate approaches union in the event of supervisor disagreeing to subordinate's request. In UI terminology, using union power means coalition tactics. The most potent source of power in the hands of union is the threat of strike. Another form of power is access with the top management. If the union is strong, then it bargains with management for its influential members on issues related to wages, benefits, grievances, disciplinary issues, and other conditions of employment, and it may even hurt supervisors' interests.

In case of personal goals, the positive effect on fit perception and liking is most likely to cause target's task commitment. Thus ingratiation will cause target's task commitment. Also, rational persuasion may cause target's task commitment through mediation of perception of competence and its positive effect on liking. Rational persuasion may also cause target's compliance through mediation of perception of agent's competence, though target may not necessarily develop liking for rational agent. Hard tactics involve more complex outcomes. While DTP will invoke compliance to agent's demand, simultaneously DTP/ hard tactics will develop target's dislike for agent causing resistance to the agent's demand. The stronger of the two effects will determine target's decision to comply or resist the agent's demand.

Combined Effect

The main contribution of the proposed models is the integration of three tactical approaches--soft, hard, and rational persuasion, influencer adopts to achieve personal goals. The model facilitates studying the effect of combination of UI tactics. UI tactics are used more in combination than individually as isolated influence attempts (Falbe & Yukl, 1992; Kipnis & Schmidt, 1988). Falbe & Yukl (1992) studied the effect of combination of soft, hard, and rational persuasion attempts, two at a time (single first and a single follow up attempt), on target's task commitment, compliance, and resistance. As expected, they found effectiveness of combination of UI tactics in making target to commit or comply or resist to agent's request in following order of combination of tactics from the most effective to least effective --two soft tactics, soft and rational, one soft only, hard and rational, soft and hard, one rational only, hard and hard, one hard only (second tactic is typically a follow up tactic if the first is unsuccessful). Effectiveness was measured as target's response --either target's task resistance, or compliance, or task commitment, with effectiveness increasing in that order. It is easy to understand these results as happening due to the intervening variables in the proposed model.

The model also helps in understanding UI target's decision making process in the face of competing UI tactics from different agents e.g. subordinates in target's department during appraisal. The decision makers will always weigh the relative potency of 'liking or fit' or soft tactics against 'DTP' or hard tactics, and take decision which safeguards their interests.


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Yukl, G. & Tracey, B.J. (1992), "Consequences of Influence Tactics Used with Boss, Subordinate and Peer", Journal of Applied Psychology, 77(4): 525-35.

Amit Dhiman is Associate Professor at Indian Institute of Management Calcutta. E-mail:

Caption: Fig. 2 Effect of Upward Influence Tactics on Managerial Decision Making in the Context of Agent's Personal Goals.
Table 1 Definitions of Upward Influence Tactics

Tactic              Definition

Pressure tactics    The person uses demands, threats, or intimidation
(assertiveness)     to convince you to comply with a request or to
                    support a proposal.

Upward appeals      The person seeks to persuade you that the request
                    is approved by higher management for assistance in
                    gaining your compliance with the request.

Exchange tactics    The person makes an explicit or implicit promise
                    that you will receive rewards or tangible benefits
                    if you comply with a request or support a
                    proposal, or reminds you of a prior favor to be

Coalition tactics   The person seeks the aid of others to persuade you
                    to do something or uses the support of others as
                    an argument for you to agree also.

Ingratiation        The person seeks to get you in a good mood or
tactics             think favorably of him or her before asking you to
                    do something.

Rational            The person uses logical arguments and factual
persuasion          evidence to persuade you that a proposal or
                    request is viable and likely to result in
                    attainment of task objectives.

Inspirational       The person makes a request or proposal that
appeals             arouses enthusiasm, appealing to your values,
                    ideals, and aspirations or by increasing your
                    confidence that you can do it.

Consultation        The person seeks your participation in planning a
                    strategy, activity, or change for which your
                    support and assistance is desired, or the person
                    is willing to modify a proposal to deal with your
                    concerns and suggestions.

Self Promotion      The act of bringing in light one's personal
                    accomplishments, characteristics or qualities in
                    order to present oneself in the most favorable

Source: Adapted from Yukl & Falbe (1990); Yukl & Tracey (1992);
Ferris & Judge (1991).

Fig. 1 Influence Tactics Classification

Strategic (S)   SD   SA
Tactical (T)    TD   TA

Defensive (D) Aggressive (A)
Source: Adapted from Tedeschi & Melburg
(1984) "Political Influence Behavior" in Ferris
& Judge (1991)
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Author:Dhiman, Amit
Publication:Indian Journal of Industrial Relations
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2017
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