The Importance Of The Information Age

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This is the age of information. Today, everyone's life revolves around the use and control of information (Schlenker, 1980). This truth about the extent of information we provide about ourselves and hence creating an impression about ourselves is also central to our lives. As in the stage play, our actors in real life, the employees in organizations, need to skillfully manage the impression they create on others in a wide range of situations ranging from simple ones such as meeting a colleague in the lobby to more complex and delicate ones like dealing with a troubled customer. This phenomenon of willfully managing impressions is referred to as "Impression Management". Impression Management (IM) is a goal directed activity of regulating or controlling information in order to influence the impressions formed by the audience ( Rosenfield, et al., 1995). Skill in this process - both to manage one's impressions and identifying the impression management techniques of others has become more significant to employees in current organizational settings.

Impression Management is a fundamental characteristic of interpersonal activities. When Impression Management is looked upon as behaviour, it is evident that it can be affected by the qualities or characteristics of the person. These personal characteristics could be age, gender, personality types, emotional intelligence etc. Behaviour of a person will also be influenced by the environmental factors and the situation in which he or she is in. When Impression Management is looked upon as an employee's behaviour in organizational settings, it is obvious that Organizational Culture has an influence on it.

There are various measures and techniques of Impression Management present in the literature. Most of them have projected the negative orientation of Impression Management. Impresion Management has beneficial ends too. It can be directed at advancing one's self-interest but can also be used to make people feel good, support or protect identities etc., . Impression Management activities can include pro social conduct or altruistic goals. Rosenfield et al published a book "Impression Management: Building and Enhancing Reputations at Work" in 2003. It was in this book that Impression Management was projected as a necessary and positive skill, related to work behaviour. The authors asnwered regarding how people build and enhance their reputations at work. This book characterise the basic nature of Impression Management and how it operates in organizations. They illustarted how Impression Management is measured and reviewed much of the research on Impression Management. The authors projected how Impression Management can be used by individuals working in organizations and by orgnaizations themselves. This book affirmed that Impression Management is a pervasive process - integral to the fundtioning and success of today's organizations and their members. In this book, the authors have identified Desirable Responding, Self Presentation, Ingration and Self Monitoring as the measures of Impression Management. The same is adopted for this study also. The authors also raised many questions that can be addressed in future research some of which are being looked into in this study.

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use that information to guide one's thinking and actions (Mayer, et al., 1990). It is also linked to positive outcomes like pro-social behaviors, parental warmth, and positive family and peer relations (Mayer et al, 1999). In the book "Emotional Intelligence: Why it Matters more than IQ" (1995) Goleman stated that our emotions and thinking intelligence are involved in regulating our behavior. And hence suggested that Emotional Intelligence plays in role in our behaviour. Impression Management is a mutual behavioural ritual that helps smooth and control social relations and avoid embarrassment. Impression Management involves behaviour techniques of individuals to construct social identities (Rosenfield et al, 2005). This suggets that Emotional Intelligence may have an effect on the Impression Management behaviour of individuals. However, there is a paucity of research in understanding effects of Emotional Intelligence on positive aspects of Impression Management.

Schein (2002) defines organizational culture as the shared beliefs, ideologies, rituals, myths, and norms that influence organizational actions or behaviour. Jones et al (2006) looks at culture as a system of shared values that lead to organizational members' attitudes and behaviours. An individual's cultural identification may influence his choice of impression construction strategy and corresponding self-presentation behaviors. Rosenfield, et al., (2005) suggested that key situational factors in organizations, including aspects of organizational culture and policy will influence Impression Management behaviour of individuals at work. A study by Ashford, Rothbard, Piderit and Dutton (1989) illustrated the complexity of this relation and suggested the value of looking at the organizational factors. This study examined how female managers were to promote issues of gender equality. It was the supportiveness of organizational climate, including warm and trusting relationships with decision makers, that led these female managers to be willing to advocate for gender equality. Organizational Culture provides a powerful model for a structure of social fabric that can influnce individual's behaviour. The social fabric model has both complexity and order in explaining behaviours at work. All the above suggests that a greater emphasis on issues of organizational culture and personnel practices in the understanding of Impression Management in organizations is necessary.

Historical background of Impression Management

The concept of Impression Management has an ancient background with its presence in the fifth century sophists schools in Plato's time in Greece. However, the scientific research in the area of Impression Management is originated from Sociologist Goffman's (1959) Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. This was the first book devoted to the study of Impression Management. Research on Impression Management can be found in the fields of Sociology, Management, Organizational Behaviour, Social Psychology, Communication, Criminology and Political Science, to name a few. (Priyadarshini.R & Rani C, 2004b)

In 1960s, The Metaphor of Yes Man was surfaced and was seen in the work of Edward E.Jones on the Impression Management Technique of Ingratiation. The yes-man uses Ingratiation techniques, for example opinion conformity to get others to like him. Since we tend to remunerate those we like, the successful yes-man uses liking as a stepping-stone to power and influence

In 1970s Impression Management became popular among laboratory oriented experimental social psychologists. Also organizational researchers like Paul Rosenfield, Robert A Giacalone and Catherine A Riordan studied Impression management as a metaphor of a manipulator. Some practitioner-oriented books like 'Winning through intimidation' by R J Ringer in 1976 and 'Success' By M Korda in 1977 recognized the practical importance of Impression Management. Also the organizational - political metaphor of Impression Management, which exists till today, was developed in the 1970s.

In the 1980's few researchers focused on IM within an organizational context and by mid 1980s more organizational studies using Impression Management framework began to appear. (Kipnis, Schmidt, & Wilkinson, 1980; Wood & Mitchell, 1981; Caldwell & O'Reilly, 1982; Giacalone & Rosenfeld, 1986; Gardner & Martinko, 1988). During the same time Impression Management has received considerable attention in social psychology (Schlenker, 1980; Tedeschi & Reiss, 1981).

In the 1990s books focusing on organizational and practitioner applications appeared. The book 'Impression Management in Organizations' edited by Giacalone and Rosenfield (1989), was the first attempt to systematically apply an Impression Management framework to a wide spectrum of organizational processes. The second book 'Applied IM: How Image-making Affects Managerial Decisions' edited by Giacalone and Rosenfield (1991) served as a source book for what has become a rapidly growing and now distinctive field called Organizational Impression Management. This book integrated previous Impression Management research conducted by leading social psychologists such as Berry Schlenkar, Mark Snyder, Bob Arkin, Robert Cialdiani Mark Leary etc with organizational and business applications of Impression Management associated with the work of noted organizational scholars such as Gerald Ferris, David Ralston, Mark Martinko etc. Applied IM' by Giacalone and Rosenfield came out. These books made Impression Management very popular among organizational practitioners and researchers.

Today Impression Management is viewed as more 'mainstream' rather than 'extreme'. Even though Goffman (1959) emphasised Impression Management was a common, very normal feature of everyday behaviour, not all subsequent theorists adopted this view. In social psychology Impression Management was characterised as being an 'extreme' form of behaviour by being a contaminant of laboratory research that needed to be controlled or eliminated. In the next decade however, Impression Management was gradually acknowledged as a necessary competency at work rather than a corruptive factor (Rosenfield, et al., 1995). It is accepted that to understand organizational life we need to understand Impression Management. It is studied in its own right and in a wide variety of areas with in organizational behaviours, from job interview to leadership, from ethics to organizational surveys, from performance appraisals to cross cultural adaptation.

Importance of Impression Management in Service Industry

In the service industry between the product and the beneficiary there is an intermediary. Often the beneficiary relates the quality aspects to the intermediary who delivers the product through his professional practice. This is the service quality. Delivering service quality is n essential stratergy for success and survival in today's competitive world. Service quality determines the sucess or failure of the business (Zeithamal, Berry and Parasuraman, 1996). In the service Industry, the effect of outcome of interactions of the employees with the clients is an inevitable part of portraying organization's identity and quality. Service quality is a activity that can be controlled and improved by the employee's behaviour with customers. Service quality is related to the choice of behaviour of employees (Richard, Sundaram and Allaway, 1994). This makes it essential that service sector employees should know the tactics of Impression Management and be able to flaunt Impression Management in the best way possible by them. (Priyadarshini. R & Rani C, 2004). More so, in the globally competent market it has become a matter of survival for service based industries such as banking, insurance, healthcare etc. The Hospital Corporation of America found a strong link between perceived quality of patient care and profitability across many of its hospitals (Koska, 1990). In an industry like Healthcare, the patients are ignorant about the technical aspects of medical care and most factors such as medical equipments, infrastructure etc., and factors other than human resources are identical in comparable hospitals. Patient's perceptions of service quality might shape confidence and subsequent behaviours with regard to choice and usage of available healthcare facilities. Patients perceive service quality through a variety of dimensions such as responsiveness of staff, assurance, communication and discipline (Andaleeb, 2001). Hence, it can be said that patients tend to attribute the quality of service to the Impression Management techniques used by the healthcare professionals.


Impression Management is a natural behaviour of people. Emotional Intelligence of the person and Organizational Culture of the setting he or she is in, has a bearing on the Impression Management behaviour by the person. The extent to which these two parameters have a relationship with Impression Management needs to be examined to understand this subject better. Hence a study is undertaken in this area.

Hardly any research has been done in India on the relationship of Emotional Intelligence or Organizational Culture on Impression Management. Most of the world wide studies have concentrated only on few measures of Impression Management such as Self Promotion, Socially Desirable Responding etc and they were largely focused on as a corruptive factor. This has left a gap in the understanding of Impression Management as a whole and also as an everyday behavior at work.

As the significance of Impression Management is already evident in health care services the same industry is chosen for the present study.

The following research questions remain unanswered:-

Do Healthcare professionals engage in Impression Management?

How does Impression Management matter to the healthcare sector?

Is the Emotional Intelligence- Organizational Culture- Impression Management Model relevant to healthcare Industry?

Are more emotionally intelligent healthcare professionals capable of having better Impression Management behavior?

Does the Organizational Culture in Healthcare Industry affect the Impression Management behaviour of various healthcare professionals?

The present investigation aims to answer all the above research questions and to validate the Model of "Impression Management - Emotional Intelligence- Organizational Culture" for Healthcare Industry in Tamil Nadu.


The following are the specific objectives of the research:-

a. To study the extent of relationship between Emotional Intelligence and Impression Management among Healthcare professionals.

b. To study the extent of relationship between Organizational Culture and Impression Management among professionals in Healthcare sector.


Impression Management is a commonly occurring and very normal part of many aspects of organizational life. Impression Management is essential to effective organizational communications and interactions. To understand organizational life we need to understand Impression Management. It helps to explain a various aspects of organizational behaviours (Rosenfiled, et al., 1995). Impression Management is defined as a process by which people in social situations manage the settings and their dress, words and gestures to correspond to the impressions they are trying to make or the image they are trying to project (Rosenfiled, et al., 1995).. A person's ability to manage impressions will be affected by the very setting in which he is doing so. It can be affected by qualities or characteristics of the person such as gender, age, emotional intelligence etc. An understanding of the effects of environmental factors like Organizational Culture and personality factors like Emotional intelligence on Impression Management on organizational settings will help the industry in improving people practices. Owing to the paucity of research in this area and the growing demands of the service industry for strategies to excel over each other, the researcher seeks to understand the dynamics of Impression Management Techniques in private healthcare industry and the relationship among Emotional Intelligence, Organizational Culture and Impression management.

Accordingly, an attempt is made by the researcher

"To study the relationship of Emotional Intelligence and Organizational Culture up on the Impression Management factors and the extent to which one influences the other"


This Chapter has dealt with the background of the study. The literature review in the following chapter looks at the relationship between Emotional Intelligence, Organizational Culture and Impression Management. The following chapter also presents the framework proposed and includes a review on the healthcare industry.