Stargazing: an integrative conceptual review, theoretical reconciliation, and extension for star employee research. Academic Article uri icon


  • Stars--employees with disproportionately high and prolonged (a) performance, (b) visibility, and (c) relevant social capital--have garnered attention in economics, sociology, and management. However, star research is often isolated within these research disciplines. Thus, 3 distinct star research streams are evolving, each disconnected from the others and each bringing siloed theoretical perspectives, terms, and assumptions. A conceptual review of these perspectives reveals a focus on the expost effects that stars exert in organizations with little explanation of who a star is and how one becomes a star. To synthesize the stars literature across these 3 disciplines, we apply psychological theories, specifically motivation theories, to create an integrative framework for stars research. Thus, we present a unified stars definition and extend theory on the making, managing, and mobility of stars. We extend research about how and why employees may be motivated to become stars, how best to manage stars and their relationships with colleagues, and how to motivate star retention. We then outline directions for future research.

published proceedings

  • J Appl Psychol

author list (cited authors)

  • Call, M. L., Nyberg, A. J., & Thatcher, S

citation count

  • 81

complete list of authors

  • Call, Matthew L||Nyberg, Anthony J||Thatcher, Sherry MB

publication date

  • May 2015