Sticking out versus fitting in: A social context perspective of ingratiation and its effect on social exchange quality with supervisors and teammates. Academic Article uri icon


  • Research indicates that whereas ingratiation directed toward one's supervisor enhances employee-supervisor social exchange quality, it diminishes social exchange quality with those who observe this behavior, such as team members. However, because researchers have largely overlooked the role of social context in shaping supervisors' and teammates' reactions to ingratiatory employees, current understanding of how ingratiation plays out in complex organizational settings may be incomplete, and perhaps misleading. In this study, we augment a social context perspective with social exchange theory to propose that comparative levels of ingratiation, determined by the focal employee's ingratiation in the context of other team members' ingratiation, shape social exchange quality with supervisors and teammates. The results from a multi-wave multi-source field study of 222 employees and their supervisors from 64 teams show that higher levels of ingratiation relative to other team members increases the employee's social exchange quality with the supervisor, whereas congruence between the employee's and other team members' ingratiation enhances social exchange quality with team members. We also find that relative ingratiation and ingratiation congruence increase citizenship received from supervisors and team members, respectively, via social exchange quality with the corresponding actor(s). Overall, our research contributes to a more complete understanding of ingratiation, especially in regard to how reactions to this behavior are largely a function of the social context in which it occurs. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

published proceedings

  • J Appl Psychol

author list (cited authors)

  • Kim, J. K., LePine, J. A., Zhang, Z., & Baer, M. D.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Kim, Ji Koung||LePine, Jeffery A||Zhang, Zhen||Baer, Michael D

publication date

  • January 2022