Recently, relationship scholars have demonstrated the importance of expressions of gratitude in cultivating relational bonds and relational satisfaction between close friends and romantic partners. Although there is growing evidence that gratitude facilitates improved relationships, organizational scholars have largely ignored the importance of gratitude in the workplace. What little we know indicates that expressions of gratitude in organizations may be rare. Indeed, a recent national survey revealed that 74% of the participants rarely, if ever, expressed gratitude to their supervisors (Kaplan, 2012). What might explain this apparent lack of gratitude? Research demonstrates that when individuals feel grateful for the generosity of a benefactor, they are motivated to acknowledge the benefactor's efforts and this typically manifests in a desire to express thanks or appreciation. Thus, in order to understand why subordinates may be unlikely to express gratitude towards their supervisors for benefits received, we must understand why they may not feel grateful in the first place. In this dissertation, I review the extant research on gratitude expressions and theorize about the factors that may influence subordinates' emotional reactions to benefits received from supervisors. Using a cognitive-emotion framework, I explain how subordinates' attributions can elicit divergent emotional responses that exert differential influences on upward expressions of gratitude and how supervisors' behavior influences these attributions. Across two studies, I find mixed support for my hypotheses.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Business Administration
Business Administration; Management
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Sheridan, Sharon, "Gee, Thanks: The Emotional and Structural Forces that Influence Subordinates' Upward Gratitude Expressions" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 5489.