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Organ Behav Hum Decis Process. 1997 Dec;72(3):336-63.

When the Going Gets Tough, Do the Tough Ask for Help? Help Seeking and Power Motivation in Organizations.

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  • 1Department of Psychology and School of Business, University of Michigan


Individuals do not seek help, even when help is needed and available, because help seeking implies incompetence and dependence, and therefore is related to powerlessness. It was hypothesized that gender, status, and organizational norms affect the importance of maintaining and accruing power, which in turn affect help seeking behaviors. A laboratory and a field study showed that there was more help seeking between equal-status than unequal-status individuals. Further, both studies revealed that males sought more help in collective than individualistic organizational norms, though the trend was not apparent for females. These results shed light on the psychological mechanisms underlying help seeking behaviors and have practical implications for developing steps to foster help seeking in organizations. Copyright 1997 Academic Press.

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