[Researcher of the Month] How ‘Fit' Are You With Your Boss?
Professor Shin Yu-hyung (Department of Management)
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For a higher competency of a company or a corporation, factors like personality, values and goals that employees and leaders prioritize were focus of a research in management or psychology studies. It has been thought that such factors should be met between a leader and an employee for higher effectiveness in a company. Rather than determining how ‘fit’ a leader and an employee is under the standards of aforementioned aspects, there has been a new perspective suggested by Professor Shin Yu-hyung of the Department of Management. Appointed as one of the researchers of the month, her recent paper, “Does Leader-Follower Regulatory Fit Matter? The Role of Regulatory Fit in Followers’ Organizational Citizenship Behavior” discusses the two different concepts, ‘promotion focus’ and ‘prevention focus’ and how it works between a leader and an employee.
The core of Shin’s research is one’s different strategic intentions, which can be divided into prevention focus and promotion focus. Promotion focus refers to a strategy to bear risks for positive outcome. Thus employees with promotion focus would put themselves into challenges for better results in their tasks even if they have to bear risks during the process. On the other hand, employees with prevention focus will contain themselves inside a security zone, putting their biggest effort to avoid the worst outcome. Thus, unlike the ones with promotion focus, they would not try to change the conditions in the given environment and will aim to accomplish the goals within the boundary of rules or conditions.
For example, consider two college students in their 3rd year. Both of them studies hard to get better GPAs but their focus can be different. Student A with promotion focus studies hard because A wants to get higher scores to apply to a company he or she wishes. Student B with prevention focus would only study hard merely to avoid an F on his or her GPA.
In the paper, Shin tried to examine and demonstrate such relevance with Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB), which refers to discretionary and extra-role behavior that is considered to increase overall effectiveness in an organization, a company in this case. What Shin chose was to prove it through a survey. She chose 140 leaders and 640 employees from different fields of Korean domestic companies. The questions mainly asked of one’s attitude to different focus, whether it is more toward promotion or prevention. As a result, Shin was able to witness different focus strategy each employees and their leaders take.
Analysis of the survey showed several facts. First, when an employee pursues promotion focus, his or her fit with a leader showed less significance. “People with high promotion focus are the ones who tries to break a conventional frame or a box, which makes their fit with their leaders less necessary. Only their degree of the focus will determine their degree of accomplishment,” explained Shin. However, the importance of ‘fit’ was shown in the case of an employee with high prevention focus. In this case it has been proven that the more one is fit with his or her leader, the better accomplishment one can make. “As people with prevention focus tries to work most effectively within the given frame, they try to cooperate and negotiate well with others while abiding by the law, which makes the fit with their leaders more important,” said Shin.
While researches on regulatory fit between leaders and employees have been done for a long time, the different perspective Shin suggested is getting credits for positive feedbacks of the paper. In the same line, Shin is working on how various styles of working can affect the outcome. In a case like where an employee is the one who tends to take more steps in completing his task while his or her leader is the one who is always chased by the dead line. As the cooperation between a leader and an employee is always important for a successful company, Shin expects the research could positively affect and motivate more innovative management studies.
Yun Ji-hyun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Kim Youn-soo
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