Elsbach Honored at UC Davis Author Event

Professor Kimberly Elsbach was among a select group of UC Davis faculty and lecturers honored at a campus authors event on April 29. Elsbach was invited to discuss her book Organizational Perception Management, which summarizes the research findings from a relatively new domain of the same name.

While perception management has been studied at the individual level since the 1960s, organization-level perception management was first examined in the 1980s in the context of corporate annual reports that focused on organizational standards and performance. According to Elsbach, empirical studies have expanded the domain of organizational perception management to include the management of organizational identities and the strategic management of specialized organizational images for specific audiences.

A Crying Shame

Appearing on Good Day Sacramento, the Sacramento region’s leading morning TV program, Elsbach discussed her recent research on the effects of crying in the workplace. Based on interviews with female managers, Elsbach and Associate Professor Beth Bechky have found that crying on the job can have severe consequences on a woman’s career. They found that when women tear up during performance evaluations (especially negative evaluations), one-on-one sessions with their managers or meetings where they are feeling stressed about getting their point across, they have suffered consequences such as losing plum assignments, promotions and credibility.

Asked whether female managers are easier on women who cry, Elsbach said the data shows exactly the opposite—they are the harshest critics. Elsbach also explained that while men may experience similar emotions as women, rather than crying a man might shout or bang on the desk to show frustration without much consequence. Elsbach said there is a social taboo against crying in the workplace, but in other social contexts weeping can be seen as perfectly acceptable.