Extant literature on professional purity suggests that individuals are incentivized to display a personal public image that conforms to the norms expected from their profession. When pursuing peripheral activities alongside core duties, it can be challenging for individuals to construct a positive professional image of themselves, since mentioning such activities can lead to the violation of purity expectations. Drawing from the literature on reputation and impression management, the talk explores the tactics that individuals use when constructing such a diversified professional image. The authors argue that individuals’ decision to construct a professional image that includes information on the peripheral activities pursued depends on their level of reputation gained from the performance of pure professional duties. The theoretical model used suggests that the combination of two opposite effects (i.e., compensatory and liability mechanisms) leads to an inverted U-shape relationship between the individuals’ reputation and the construction of a diversified professional image of themselves. Furthermore, by looking at the language used to mention the peripheral activities pursued, this talk suggests the presence of a second inverted U-shape relationship between individuals’ reputation and the adoption of an instrumental framing. The authors conducted the study by comparing the peripheral activities that individuals include on their organization-based personal webpage with those actually pursued by them. It was tested and supported for the hypotheses on 822 faculty members employed at Imperial College London who have a university-based webpage and have been engaging in commercial activities while employed at Imperial.
About the speaker
Cleo is a Research Associate in the Department of Management & Entrepreneurship at the Imperial College London Business School. She got awarded her PhD in October 2019.