Impressions of Competency: Tactics and a Conceptual Model

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Abstract

Purpose: The study introduces a research stream of impressions of competency (IC) within the impression management field. The need for more understanding and research on IC within the field stems from the rising levels of information processing and competency expectations at work. This shift towards knowledge-intensive processes within organizations creates an environment in which the need to be perceived as competent has become even more relevant. As a result, employees may rely on IC tactics, if the expectation is that they appear as knowledgeable, skilled, and intelligent (i.e., competent). Methodology: The paper first includes a new typology of IC tactics that comprises impression management strategies used by individuals specifically to attain an enhanced image of competence in the workplace. Second, it provides a conceptual model and offers propositions with regards to the antecedents, effectiveness, and outcomes of IC tactics for consideration in future research. Conclusions: The research suggests that higher social norms of displaying competency in the workplace will contribute to higher IC tactic use especially by individuals keen on self-monitoring. Furthermore, politically skilled individuals are more effective with IC tactics, which results in more desirable evaluations of performance. Research limitations: This is a theoretical and conceptual study. It formulates propositions for further empirical research studies. Originality: This paper introduces IC within the impression management field by identifying IC tactics and developing a conceptual model for the examination of their effectiveness in the workplace.

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