Date of Award

2021

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration

Specialization

Marketing

Department

Business Administration

First Advisor

Christy Ashley

Abstract

The role of business-to-business (B2B) sales professionals is adapting to meet ever-changing customer expectations. B2B buyers are now demanding more complex, customized solutions and more personalized after-sales support and service. This profound change in the nature of professional selling has spurred a global race to scale up digital platforms that seamlessly support buyer needs and expectations throughout the purchase journey. However, this emphasis on the marriage of technology and human interaction prior to the sale has created a dearth of attention to, and related scholarship on, the role of salesperson support after the sale [emphasis added]. The “quiet ego” (QE), a psychological construct that has previously been unexplored in the marketing and sales literature, may help to explain individual differences in the ability of salespeople to balance self-interest (transactional) with concern for others (relational). Two manuscripts explore the direct and indirect effects of QE on salesperson performance and well-being utilizing survey data from 330 B2B sales professionals engaged in a wide variety of industries across two continents (Europe = 200; Asia = 130). Confirmatory factor analysis was performed to confirm the validity of QE in a selling context and structural equation modeling was used to examine the hypothesized relationships between the independent and dependent variables. The first manuscript ported QE within the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions to explain and predict its impact on adaptive selling behavior (ASB) and salesperson performance (SP). QE was directly and positively associated with ASB and was indirectly related to SP through its relationship with ASB in the combined sample. Culture moderated these relationships in interesting and unexpected ways. Salespeople in collectivistic cultures (Asia) reported quieter egos compared to their counter- parts in individualistic cultures (Europe). These higher QE scores resulted in a direct effect between QE and SP for the Asian sample and no relationship between QE and ASB. The second manuscript explored the potential mediating role of QE and psychological capital (PsyCap) in the relationship between boundary-spanning task overload (BSTO) and both SP and psychological well-being (PWB). PsyCap positively mediated the BSTO to SP and PWB pathways. The pathway from QE to PWB was positive but, counterintuitively, the link to SP was negative. Curvilinear effects for QE were identified such that silent and noisy egos were positively associated with SP, whereas quiet egos positively predicted PWB. Culture also positively moderated the relationship between BSTO and both QE and PsyCap. Implications of the findings for theoreticians and practitioners are discussed.

Available for download on Sunday, April 24, 2022

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