The Power of Unrequited Love: The Parasocial Relationship, Trust, and Organizational Identification Between Middle-Level Managers and CEOs.Front Psychol. 2021; 12:689511.FP
Previous studies have found that CEOs manage their firms through traditional methods such as leadership and management practices. In this study, we investigate how the parasocial relationship (PSR) between middle-level managers and CEOs affects the organizational trust and the organizational identification (OI) of middle managers. We find that the PSR between middle managers and CEOs has a positive effect on the OI of middle managers, which is mediated by the organizational trust of middle managers. Purpose: Middle managers and CEOs are the key components of a firm and are crucial to firm strategies and control systems. Middle managers play a vital role in information transmission like in the organizational hierarchy while CEOs influence low-level employees through middle managers. In this study, we investigate how the PSR between middle managers and CEOs affects organizational trust and OI. Design/Methodology: In this study, the data concerning OI, integrity perception, and organizational trust are derived from a survey conducted by the internal control research group of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC). The research group began the survey on September 5, 2014, for the firms listed in the A-share market, accounting firms with securities and future practice qualifications, and institutional investors through the accounting department of the CSRC, the Shanghai Stock Exchange, the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, and the Asset Management Association of China. The research group members surveyed 2,536 A-share firms listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange and Shenzhen Stock Exchange. As of October 31, 2014, 2,154 sets of questionnaires with a total of 12,551 questionnaires were received, with a response rate of 84.95%. The financial and accounting data are from the China Stock Market and Accounting Research (CSMAR) database. Findings: We find that the PSR between middle managers and CEOs has a positive effect on the OI of middle managers, which is mediated by the organizational trust of middle managers. This study extends the application of the parasocial interaction (PSI) theory, organizational trust theory, and social identity theory in listed firms. Practical Implication: There are practical implications for internal relationship management, corporate governance, and performance management. CEOs should value the influence of organizational trust and improve his/her own social and work abilities on middle-level managers as the organizational trust of middle-level managers has a significant positive impact on their sense of responsibility, ethical behavior, organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and performance. CEOs should adopt various methods to influence different managers because organizational trust mediates the relationship between the PSR and OI. Originality/Value: Our study is one of the first attempts to apply the PSI theory to the corporate world. Given the dynamics of present-day markets and changing stakeholder demands, there is little insight into how this relationship affects organizational health and functioning. Much less what a PSR between CEO and middle management looks like in practice. Our study attempts to fill the gap by investigating how CEOs might come to affect middle managers through their practices and behaviors.