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Ambitious employees: Why and when ambition relates to performance and organizational commitment
Journal of Vocational Behavior  (IF6.065),  Pub Date : 2021-04-07, DOI: 10.1016/j.jvb.2021.103576
Andreas Hirschi, Daniel Spurk

It is often assumed that ambition has important workplace outcomes, but empirical research has only partially addressed this issue and frequently relied on imprecise measures of ambition. In two studies, based on an improved measure of ambition as a general disposition, we clarified how, why, and when ambition relates to performance evaluations and organizational commitment outcomes. Study 1 suggests that ambition has significant reputation effects in that self-rated ambition was positively related to ambition rated by supervisors and spouse/life partners, based on 100 employee-supervisor-spouse/life partners triads. Moreover, supervisor-rated ambition, but not self-rated ambition, was significantly positively related to higher supervisor-rated job performance and promotability, beyond employee-rated proactivity and generalized self-efficacy. Study 2 focused on organizational commitment outcomes with a three-month time-lagged study with 194 employees. We found that ambition was positively related to higher affective organizational commitment beyond achievement striving, especially when more organizational career opportunities were perceived. However, controlling for perceived organizational career opportunities and achievement striving, ambition was also positively related to increased organizational turnover intentions. Overall, the studies suggest that ambition among employees is generally positive and indirectly beneficial for individual job performance evaluations, but also poses some risks to organizational retention management.