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Comparing two attributional models of job performance in retail sales: A field study

Silvester, J., Patterson, F. & Ferguson, E. (2003). Comparing two attributional models of job performance in retail sales: A field study. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 76(1), pp. 115-132. doi: 10.1348/096317903321208916


Research investigating attributional style and job performance among sales staff has been limited by its focus on specific sales roles: notably selling insurance by telephone. Important questions therefore remain regarding the mechanism by which attributions influence job performance in sales roles more generally. This paper describes a field study comparing two attributional models of job performance: (1) a learned helplessness (LH) model, and (2) an achievement motivation (AM) model. Managers' performance ratings were collected for 452 retail sales assistants who completed a job-specific attribution questionnaire and a work-satisfaction questionnaire. Results indicate that sales assistants who made more internalcontrollable attributions for positive outcomes received higher performance ratings (r =.20, p<.01) and were more satisfied in their work (r =.12, p< .05). The findings provide support for an AM model of job performance among retail sales assistants. They suggest that more successful sales assistants proactively manage their environment in order to create opportunities for successful interactions with customers.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
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