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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 () and Arjen Van Witteloostuijn ()
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Hendrik Slabbinck: Department of Marketing, Ghent University, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Johanna Vanderstraeten: Department of Management, University of Antwerp, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
Jacqueline Brassey: Tilburg School of Economics and Management, Tilburg University, 5037 AB Tilburg, The Netherlands
Dendi Ramdani: Office of Chief Economist, Bank Mandiri, Jakarta 12190, Indonesia
Arjen Van Witteloostuijn: Department of Management, University of Antwerp, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium

Sustainability, 2017, vol. 9, issue 11, 1-26

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.

Keywords: explicit motives; implicit motives; power motive; Brief Implicit Association Test (BIAT); prosocial organizational behavior; job creation; environmental sustainability; small- and medium-size enterprise (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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