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A within-person analysis of sales self-efficacy: antecedents and consequences of self-efficacy change

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posted on 17.03.2020, 14:02 by Dayle Childs
Authors are presently providing implications to practitioners suggesting that enhancing self-efficacy beliefs are universally beneficial in regard to salesperson performance. However, despite advice being provided as to how to enhance the self-efficacy beliefs of salespeople, there is very little empirical research on the drivers of self-efficacy. Extant literature studies only the antecedents to, and consequences of, self-efficacy via an examination how salespeople differ in their level of self-efficacy (i.e., at the between-person level). Yet, how self-efficacy beliefs can be influenced, and how change in self-efficacy at the individual level (i.e., at the within-person level) influences subsequent effort and salesperson performance, remain unexplored. Therefore, the aim of the present study is to understand the antecedents to, and consequences of, self-efficacy change. A conceptual framework outlining how self-efficacy can demonstrate contradictory relationships with effort and salesperson performance at the between-person and within-person levels of analysis is presented. Using a sample of business-to-business salespeople in the United States of America, this conceptual model is analyzed using longitudinal multilevel modeling. The findings show that salespeople with higher self-efficacy beliefs put in greater effort and perform better. However, the findings also show that increases in a salesperson’s self-efficacy can reduce subsequent effort allocation and salesperson performance; further, that this negative influence of self-efficacy increases on effort allocation is moderated by perceived competitive intensity. Emotional exhaustion also reduces the positive influence of effort allocation on performance at both levels of analysis. Intra-individual self-efficacy trajectories are positively influenced by longer-term past performance and positive (manager) feedback; conversely, sales anxiety negatively influences self-efficacy trajectories. This doctoral thesis helps managers to understand how the self-efficacy beliefs of their salespeople can be manipulated, while also highlighting to managers that they should be conscious of the potential detrimental effects of self-efficacy on the subsequent effort allocation and performance of their salespeople. In addition, the key implications of the study for sales and marketing theory are provided. Research limitations and avenues for future research conclude the thesis.



  • Business and Economics


  • Business


Loughborough University

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© Dayle Ricky Nigel Childs

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.




John Cadogan ; Belinda Dewsnap ; Nick Lee

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