Professor of Organisational Behaviour
Status Loss; Status; Legitimacy; Self-Control;
The authors investigate how higher-ranking organizational members can protect their legitimacy after status loss. The authors theorize that after status loss, internal stakeholders will scrutinize the behavior of higher-ranking members to determine whether they are still deserving of their high-ranking position (i.e., legitimate) and that those members who display self-control (e.g., persistence, poise, restraint) after status loss signal legitimacy to scrutinizing internal stakeholders.In a laboratory experiment (Study 1), the authors found that leaders who displayed higher (versus lower) self-control after status loss were judged as more legitimate and were less likely to be challenged. This effect of higher perceived self-control on legitimacy and challenging behavior after status loss was explained by positively influencing internal stakeholders’ instrumental and moral evaluations of the higher-ranking individual.In an online experiment with working adults (Study 2), the authors constructively replicated these results and found that high self-control is more important for positive legitimacy judgments after status loss than when no status loss has occurred.Finally, in a critical incident study (Study 3), the authors explored whether the type of perceived self-control influenced the efficacy of the self-control strategy. The authors found that self-presentation was the most effective “type” of self-control display after status loss, and displaying self-control in multiple ways (e.g., task-related and self-presentation) increased the efficacy of perceived self-control.The authors discuss the implications of this research for legitimacy judgments, status loss, and self-control.