Strategising Impression Management in Corporations: Cultural Knowledge as Capital

Strategising Impression Management in Corporations: Cultural Knowledge as Capital

Caroline Kamau (Southampton Solent University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-790-4.ch004
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Impression management is a powerful psychological phenomenon with much unexplored potential in corporate settings. Employees or corporations can deploy impression management strategies in order to manipulate others’ perceptions of them. Cultural knowledge is powerful capital in impression management, yet this has not been sufficiently explored in previous literature. This chapter argues that impression-motivated employees or corporations need to perform a three-step knowledge audit: (i) knowing what their impression deficits are; (ii) knowing what impression management strategy is needed to address that deficit, based on the taxonomy of impression management strategies tabulated here; (iii) knowing what societal (e.g. collectivist culture or individualist culture) or organization-specific cultural adjustments are needed. A cultural knowledge base can thus be created through cross-cultural training of and knowledge transfer by expatriates. Multinational corporations can also benefit from utilising the knowledge presented in this chapter in their international public relations efforts.
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The success of knowledge transfer often depends on incidental or subsidiary information accompanying the knowledge itself. Communication between humans usually involves nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, gestures, body posture, tone of voice, gaze, clothing style and use of props. Nonverbal cues therefore have an important communicative function (DePaulo, 1992), such as in terms of conveying information on emotional states (Ekman & Friesen, 1971). An individual can strategically manipulate the nonverbal signals that they transmit through a process known as impression management or self presentation (Leary & Kowalski, 1990). Impression management is the strategic attempt to control how one is perceived by others in order to fulfil a deeper aim (Rosenfeld, Giacalone & Riordan, 1995), such as exuding competence in a particular knowledge field or being taken seriously as an expert. There is considerable evidence in organizational settings that impression management by employees can influence supervisors’ ratings of them (Wayne & Liden, 1995; Vilela et al, 2007), increase chances of promotion (Westphal & Stern, 2007) and increase others’ perceptions of ones credibility (Leigh & Summers, 2002). Individuals with knowledge on impression management strategies may therefore successfully utilise this knowledge to, for example, maximise their capacity to influence their organization’s policies and practices. The success of impression management strategies depends on both societal cultural norms on appropriate social behaviour (DePaulo, 1992) and on organization-specific culture (Drory & Zaidman, 2007), as well as individual characteristics (Snyder, 1974).

Impression management in corporate settings has a lot of unexplored potential. This chapter begins by discussing nonverbal communication and compiling a taxonomy of impression management strategies typically used in corporate settings. Cultural knowledge relevant to impression management is an invaluable resource to individuals in corporate settings. This chapter explores the impact of societal cultural norms on workers’ choices of impression management strategies, focussing on the contrast between collectivist cultures (e.g. the Far East) and individualist cultures (e.g. Western Europe and North America). The impact of organization-specific culture on employees’ impression management strategies is then discussed. This chapter therefore argues that employees need to acquire a tacit or explicit knowledge base on impression management, and to perform an audit of their impression deficits, the impression management strategies required to resolve these deficits, and the adjustment in strategy needed to accommodate society or organizational cultural norms or individual difference variables. The benefits of cross-cultural adaptation by expatriates, based on fact-finding and the accumulation of knowledge through interactions, and cross-cultural training of expatriate employees, will then be discussed. Having explored impression management from the perspective of employees as individuals, this chapter then goes on to argue that multinational corporations should utilise the kind of knowledge presented in this chapter in their international public relations efforts. Ethical considerations for employees or corporations (concerning their choice of impression management strategy) are then discussed, after which further research questions will be outlined.

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Nigel Holden
Deogratias Harorimana
Chapter 1
Stavros T. Ponis, George Vagenas, Epaminondas Koronis
Relevant literature suggests that the field of knowledge management (KM) at the service of contemporary organizations is characterized by a plethora... Sample PDF
Exploring the Knowledge Management Landscape: A Critical Review of Existing Knowledge Management Frameworks
Chapter 2
Markus Haag, Yanqing Duan, Brian Mathews
The concept of culture and its relationship with Nonaka’s SECI model, a widely used model of organizational knowledge creation, is discussed in this... Sample PDF
The Impact of Culture on the Application of the SECI Model
Chapter 3
Deogratias Harorimana
This chapter offers a taste of the ingredients for further debates that continue to emerge from within knowledge management communities. The author... Sample PDF
Knowledge, Culture, and Cultural Impact on Knowledge Management: Some Lessons for Researchers and Practitioners
Chapter 4
Caroline Kamau
Impression management is a powerful psychological phenomenon with much unexplored potential in corporate settings. Employees or corporations can... Sample PDF
Strategising Impression Management in Corporations: Cultural Knowledge as Capital
Chapter 5
Christian-Andreas Schumann, Claudia Tittmann
The currently developing knowledge society needs high quality knowledge bases with wide-spreading knowledge sources. Because of the complexity of... Sample PDF
Potentials for Externalizing and Measuring of Tacit Knowledge within Knowledge Nodes in the Context of Knowledge Networks
Chapter 6
Peter L. Bond
This chapter raises difficult questions regarding the validity and motive for prolonging current forms of economic development and competition in... Sample PDF
Toward a Living Systems Framework for Unifying Technology and Knowledge Management, Organizational, Cultural and Economic Change
Chapter 7
José L. Pineda, Laura Esther Zapata, Jacobo Ramírez
In today’s world, where uncertainty and the rapidity of technological changes predominate, companies need to generate and adopt knowledge... Sample PDF
Strengthening Knowledge Transfer between the University and Enterprise: A Conceptual Model for Collaboration
Chapter 8
Roberto Biloslavo, Mojca Prevodnik
Knowledge management is a set of purposeful activities led by management in order to enable and support generation, storage, transfer and... Sample PDF
Impact of Organizational Culture on Knowledge Management in Higher Education
Chapter 9
Cláudio Reis Gonçalo, Edison Jacques Jacques
This study analyses best practices of knowledge strategies in hospitals considering the implementation of medical protocols. Protocols are research... Sample PDF
Best Practices of Knowledge Strategy in Hospitals: A Contextual Perspective Based on the Implementation of Medical Protocols
Chapter 10
Kalotina Chalkiti, Dean Carson
This chapter investigates the strategies used by hospitality businesses in the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia to remain competitive in the... Sample PDF
Knowledge Cultures, Competitive Advantage and Staff Turnover in Hospitality in Australia's Northern Territory
Chapter 11
Claire Seaman, Stuart Graham
This chapter seeks to consider both the role that knowledge transfer may have in family businesses and the different manners in which knowledge... Sample PDF
Creating Competitive Advantage in Scottish Family Businesses: Managing, Sharing and Transferring the Knowledge
Chapter 12
Annette H. Dunham, Christopher D.B. Burt
Organizational memory, the knowledge gained from organizational experience, has significant potential for competitive advantage. Many authors in the... Sample PDF
Mentoring and the Transfer of Organizational Memory within the Context of an Aging Workforce: Cultural Implications for Competitive Advantage
Chapter 13
Helen N. Rothberg, Beate Klingenberg
Responding to increasingly competitive environments, it has become commonplace for multinationals to enter into cross-border partnerships, ventures... Sample PDF
Learning before Doing: A Theoretical Perspective and Practical Lessons from a Failed Cross-Border Knowledge Transfer Initiative
Chapter 14
Jianzhong Hong, Johanna Heikkinen, Mia Salila
Recent studies on university–industry collaboration have paid a growing attention to complementary knowledge interaction, which is of crucial... Sample PDF
The Impact of Culture on University–Industry Knowledge Interaction in the Chinese MNC Context
Chapter 15
Josune Sáenz, Nekane Aramburu, Olga Rivera
The aim of this chapter is to analyze the degree of influence of different organizational enablers (i.e., “structural capital”) on knowledge... Sample PDF
Exploring the Links between Structural Capital, Knowledge Sharing, Innovation Capability and Business Competitiveness: An Empirical Study
Chapter 16
Elly Philpott, John Beaumont-Kerridge
This chapter argues the case for a proactive process to facilitate knowledge creation between universities and small to medium size enterprises... Sample PDF
Overcoming Reticence to Aid Knowledge Creation Between Universities and Business: A Case Reviewed
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