A study of glass ceiling effect on impression management behaviors between Korean and U.S. women managers in financial institutions Focused on supervisor support and informal network

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Jungjin Kim


This study examines contextual factors regarding glass ceiling effects women’s impression management behaviors arguing that impression management is not always caused by personal traits, but more importantly by context. This study explores to develop a cross-cultural examination to investigate glass ceiling effects over impression management behaviors of Korean and American female managers and organizational factors as moderating variables. Impression management is the process whereby individuals control their impressions in seeking to influence the perception of others about their own image (Rosenfeld, Giacalone, & Riordan, 1995). In the literature on impression management, gender difference in adopting impression management strategies are often considered (Singh, Kumra, & Vinnicombe, 2002; Thacker & Wayne, 1995). Although those studies contributed to further studies on impression management, this study focuses on women managers who try to control their impression. Leary & Kowalski(1990) argued that impression management may be a reaction to the discrepancy between desired social image and actual one. This implies that when people recognize a threat to their social identity, they are more likely to engage in impression management. Women employees may be inclined to engage in impression management behaviors for the following reason: they are structurally positioned as minorities even though recently women have advanced in terms of the number of women and the proportion of higher positions attained(Burt, 1997; Ibarra, 1992), and they may be more likely to experience the ‘glass ceiling’ within their organization (Dencker, 2008; Kirchmeyer, 2002; Thacker, 1995). In this sense, when women managers perceive glass ceilings within their organizations, it can affect the women’s impression management behaviors(Greenhaus, et al., 1990; Wayne, et al. 1999; Kirchmeyer, 2002). Second, this study examines organizational related factors which can moderate the above relationship. Supervisory supports and organizational informal networks within organization provide women employees with a sense of psychological satisfaction not only in terms of the practical support for careers but personal relationships and work in general (Forret & Dougherty, 2001). Thus, it would be a straightforward reasoning that women employees with supervisor supports & organizational informal network support would decrease the motivation of impression management behaviors. For data collection, this study surveyed women employees who have worked for at least 5 years in financial institutions. In Korea, questionnaires were administered to deputy managers and those at higher levels of 22 financial institutions and a total of 148 were used. In the United States, a random sample was selected because researchers were limited in accessing companies. Many financial institutions were visited, questionnaires were administered to managers with subordinates in state of California and New York, total 128 were used for research. The analysis of the study shows that the more perceived glass ceiling of women managers in organizations are likely to show supervisor-focused impression management behaviors. Second, supervisor supports have significant moderating impact on the supervisor-focused impression management. Third, organization informal networks have significant moderating impact on job-focused impression management in both Korea & U.S women managers.


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Jungjin Kim, Seoul Women's University

Dept. of Business Administration

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