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Self-Fulfilling Prophecy in Management

Autor:   •  December 10, 2017  •  Research Paper  •  1,320 Words (6 Pages)  •  179 Views

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Self-Fulfilling Prophecy in Management

By Linh Giang Ngoc

Word count: 765

Self-fulfilling prophecy (SFP) and its associated phenomena have been widely studied by scholars in the assessments of many fields such as psychology, social sciences, education, economics, and business e.g. Rosenthal and Jacobson (1968); Azariadis (1980); Eden (1984); Dougherty, Turband and Callender (1994); Smith et al. (1998); Guyll et al. (2010); Madon et al. (2011). This essay aims to explore the role of SFP in management, which should answer the following questions: What are the associated phenomena of SFP and their impacts on management style? How does SFP in management influence employees’ performance? and How to apply SFP as a management tool?

In 1948, Merton introduced the term ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ and defined it as “a false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the originally false conception come true” (pp.195). Pugh (1989) explained the essence of Merton’s belief as when people behave and cause the changes in other people’s behaviors in such ways which eventually create realities that “match and fulfill the initial expectations” (pp.3). According to Rosenthal and Jacobson (1968); Pugh (1989); Higgins and Bargh (1987); Rosenthal and Fode (1963); Livingston (2003), some widely accepted associated phenomena of this concept are expectancy, stereotyping, prejudice, discrimination, and bias.

These phenomena have great impacts on many processes in management. For example, Dipboye (1982) established a model which specifies the correlation of SFP and the employment interview. According to the author, stereotyping, prejudice, and expectancy which result from SFP create both cognitive and behavioral biases in interviewers’ behaviors toward the candidates and eventually affect the final evaluation. Dougherty, Turband, and Callender (1994) used Dipboye’s model as the theoretical basis for the study of first impressions and employment interview. Within a sample of 79 interviewing tapes, they found that interviewers who have more positive impressions towards the candidates used more positive communication styles, talked about extending the job offer more openly, and provided more information about the job offer and the company. Other example aspects of SFP in management are in the fields of performance management and training. Livingston (2003) stated in his work: “the way managers treat their subordinates is subtly influenced by what they expect of them”. Applying this concept, in the study of Rao and Sharma (2016), superiors who have higher expectations in employees praise them more often. The study of 43 grocery stores in France by Glover, Pallais and Pariente (2016) concluded that managers who show discrimination and bias against minority new cashiers (e.g. North African names are associated with poor performance) interact with them less, and provide less guidance.


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