The linkage between status-leveling symbols and work attitudes

Lu Zhang, David Morand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between status-leveling symbols (i.e. the symbols used by organizations to remove, blur, or downplay hierarchical distinctions) and employees’ work attitudes, as mediated through perceptions of trust, justice, and leader-member exchange. The study intends to provide some empirical support relative to the role of symbolicleveling symbols as a social influence process in the workplace.

Design/methodology/approach – In this study, the authors developed a measure of organizational status leveling by focussing on three symbols – physical space, dress, and forms of address. Data were collected from 147 employees who were enrolled in a part-time MBA program. The paper used path analysis to test the hypotheses.

Findings – Results fully supported the theoretical model except the mediating role of justice perceptions in the relationship between status-leveling symbols and affective commitment.

Practical implications – The results of the study provide guidance for design of physical workspaces and setting or reinforcing norms regarding forms of address and dress codes. Such practices need to be integrated with other high-involvement HR practices so as to create and sustain the culture desired by the organization.

Originality/value – The paper is the first to measure status-leveling symbols in organizations, and the first to investigate the linkages between symbolic-leveling symbols and relevant work-related outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)973-993
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Managerial Psychology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 4 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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