Jaclyn A. Margolis, PhD, Assistant Professor, Applied Behavioral Science

It’s All Relative: A Team-Based Social Comparison Model for Self-Evaluations of Effectiveness. Group & Organization Management. (Forthcoming), with S. B. Dust.


We apply social comparison theory (SCT) to the organizational context and develop a model explicating the social comparison process that occurs within organizational teams. In doing so, we highlight how individual, team, and managerial factors influence this process. First, we discuss how task-related (e.g., age, gender, and race) and demographic-related (e.g., functional background and experience) team characteristics affect social comparison target selection (i.e., the team as a whole, a sub-group, or a specific individual) and further explain the impact of metacognitive capacities on this referent selection process. Next, we explore how team norms of collaboration versus competition affect whether employees assimilate or contrast, respectively, during social comparisons. Subsequently, we highlight how managers influence the proposed social comparison process. Finally, we discuss how social comparisons can be productive or unproductive for team members’ organization-based self-esteem (OBSE). We conclude by discussing the theoretical and practical implications of our model and offering avenues for future research.

Keywords: social comparison theory, teams, self-evaluation, organization-based self-esteem


Jaclyn A. Margolis, PhD, Assistant Professor, Applied Behavioral Science

Vertical flow of collectivistic leadership: An examination of the cascade of visionary leadership across levels. The Leadership Quarterly, 27(2), 334-348, (2016), with J. C. Ziegert.


This study explores the connection between formal leaders and collective leadership in teams through the examination of how collective strategic vision flows downward in organizations and the function that formal leaders play in the resulting cascade of collective leadership. Building from a sensemaking framework, we propose that a supervisor’s perceptions of the collective navigator role (the establishing and enacting of strategic vision among members of a team) in their immediate supervisor-level work group ultimately links to the collective leadership navigator role in the lower-level team he or she leads thereby illustrating the vertical flow of collective leadership across organizational levels. To understand how this cascading process operates, we propose that two key characteristics of supervisors, their job satisfaction and empowering leadership behaviors, mediate the linkage between collective strategic visions at these different levels. We find support for this connection in our study of teams within a large manufacturing company.

Keywords: Collectivistic leadership, collective vision, empowering leadership, sensemaking, teams



About the Author(s)

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