Management Seminar - Professor Christopher C. Rosen

Seminar Room 10.039, Level 10, The Spot Building (198 Berkeley St)


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Dr Jooyeon Son

T: +61 3 9035 7410

PRESENTER: Professor Christopher C. Rosen (Walton College of Business, University of Arkansas)
TOPIC: “I feel your pain: Understanding how trait empathy affects leader reactions to the provision of negative feedback”  

Negative performance feedback is an invaluable resource that facilitates performance improvement by providing cues that corrective action is needed to meet performance standards. Despite performance improvement benefits, managers are sometimes reluctant to provide negative feedback to subordinates. Although prior research has identified negative feedback as an aversive managerial activity, little is known about why some managers avoid it. Drawing on self-regulation and emotional contagion theories, we theorize that negative feedback provision has adverse psychological and behavioral consequences for managers who are higher on trait empathy. In an experience sampling study of 53 managers over 10 work days, our results indicated that leaders who are high in trait empathy experience less positive emotions and report feel less attentive after providing subordinates with negative feedback. These reduced positive emotions and feelings of attentiveness, in turn, lead to subsequent detriments in leader effectiveness and, for reduced positive emotions, decreases in transformational leader behavior. In contrast, leaders who are low in trait empathy experience more positive emotions and are more attentive after providing subordinates with negative feedback, which has a positive impact on subsequent leader effectiveness and, for increased positive emotions, transformational leader behavior. Altogether, our study yields multiple theoretical, empirical, and practical implications that serve to enhance understanding of feedback giving processes at work. Our findings also challenge current thinking about leader empathy by highlighting a potential downside of empathy for leadership.

Christopher C. Rosen is a Professor of Management in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. Dr. Rosen received his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Akron. His research covers a broad range of topics, including workplace politics, motivation, and employee well-being. His research on these topics has appeared in a number of academic journals, including Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Organization Science, and Personnel Psychology. His work has been featured in outlets such as the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. He is currently an associate editor at Journal of Management and serves on editorial boards at Journal of Applied Psychology and Personnel Psychology, among others. Dr. Rosen is also an elected member of the executive committee of the Human Resources Division of the Academy of Management, where he currently holds the position of Division Chair Elect.

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