Influence strategies and work outcomes: effects of attributions

Melody P.M. Chong, Xiji Zhu, Pingping Fu, Ling Ying Sarinna Wong

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Previous research on influence strategies has almost exclusively indicated negative relationships between assertive influence and employee work outcomes; the purpose of this study is to argue that an assertive influence strategy can also lead to both positive and negative work outcomes, when subordinates hold different attributions towards the leaders’ motive of using assertive influence (hereafter “the cause”). Design/methodology/approach: The empirical study was based on data collected from 930 employees in China. The authors developed hypotheses to test the mediating effects of three types of perception in the relationship between an assertive influence strategy and five outcomes, and additional analyses on persuasive and relational influence strategies are also conducted. Findings: Results show that when subordinates attribute the cause to their ability (internal attribution), an assertive influence has indirect positive effect on felt obligation, organizational commitment, job performance and organizational citizenship behavior; when subordinates attribute the cause to the poor relationship with their superiors (relational attribution), an assertive influence has indirect negative impact on most outcomes except for job performance; when subordinates perceive that the cause is to the superiors, such as authoritarian leadership (external attribution), an assertive influence has indirect positive effect on job performance. Practical implications: The study highlights the importance of subordinates’ perceptions during the leadership influence processes. Originality/value: This study was the first to examine the mediation relationship between three types of influence strategies and five organizational outcomes based on a large sample of front-line staff in China. The findings of the study also enrich the literature of leadership and attribution theories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)967-984
Number of pages18
JournalChinese Management Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Assertive influence strategy
  • Attribution theories
  • China
  • Employees’ positive and negative work outcomes
  • Influence strategies
  • Persuasive and relational strategies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business,Management and Accounting


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