The power paradox: Implicit and explicit power motives, and the importance attached to prosocial organizational goals in SMEs

Julie Hermans*, Hendrik Slabbinck, Johanna Vanderstraeten, Jacqueline Brassey, Marcus Dejardin, Dendi Ramdani, Arjen van Witteloostuijn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

We examine the fundamental tension between explicit and implicit power motives; and their combined impact on the importance attached to prosocial organizational goals in small businesses (SMEs). We show that key decision-makers with a dominant implicit power motive attach more importance to the prosocial goals of job creation and taking care of the environment in their businesses. However, we reveal that this positive relationship is moderated by their explicit power motive. Once decision-makers in SMEs consciously seek for power, the positive relationship is neutralized. With these results, we highlight the conceptual and methodological differences between implicit and explicit power motives. We could obtain these results because we developed and validated an innovative implicit motive measure-the Shortened Pictorial Attitude Implicit Association Test (SPA-IAT). Contrary to the currently available implicit motive measures, the SPA-IAT is fast and easy to use and analyze, which makes this novel instrument well suited for research in business settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2001
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume9
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes

Funding

Acknowledgments: This research has been carried out in the framework of the Belgian Science Policy Office research project TA/00/40, and was supported by the Interuniversity Attraction Pole “If not for profit, for what? And how?” funded by the Belgian Science Policy Office.

FundersFunder number
Belgian Federal Science Policy OfficeTA/00/40

    Keywords

    • Brief Implicit Association Test (BIAT)
    • Environmental sustainability
    • Explicit motives
    • Implicit motives
    • Job creation
    • Power motive
    • Prosocial organizational behavior
    • Small- and medium-size enterprise

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