IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Expressed Humility in Organizations: Implications for Performance, Teams, and Leadership


  • Bradley P. Owens

    (The State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York 14260)

  • Michael D. Johnson

    (University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195)

  • Terence R. Mitchell

    (University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195)


We draw on eight different lab and field samples to delineate the effects of expressed humility on several important organizational outcomes, including performance, satisfaction, learning goal orientation, engagement, and turnover. We first review several literatures to define the construct of expressed humility, discuss its implications in social interactions, and distinguish expressed humility from related constructs. Using five different samples, Study 1 develops and validates an observer-report measure of expressed humility. Study 2 examines the strength of expressed humility predictions of individual performance and contextual performance (i.e., quality of team member contribution) relative to conscientiousness, global self-efficacy, and general mental ability. This study also reveals that with regard to individual performance, expressed humility may compensate for lower general mental ability. Study 3 reports insights from a large field sample that examines the relationship between leader-expressed humility and employee retention as mediated by job satisfaction and employee engagement as mediated by team learning orientation. We conclude with recommendations for future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Bradley P. Owens & Michael D. Johnson & Terence R. Mitchell, 2013. "Expressed Humility in Organizations: Implications for Performance, Teams, and Leadership," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 24(5), pages 1517-1538, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ororsc:v:24:y:2013:i:5:p:1517-1538
    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.1120.0795

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Wilmar Schaufeli & Marisa Salanova & Vicente González-romá & Arnold Bakker, 2002. "The Measurement of Engagement and Burnout: A Two Sample Confirmatory Factor Analytic Approach," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 71-92, March.
    2. Editors The, 2008. "From the Editors," Basic Income Studies, De Gruyter, vol. 2(2), pages 1-3, January.
    3. Editors The, 2008. "From the Editors," Basic Income Studies, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-1, July.
    4. Knight, Patrick A. & Nadel, Jerome I., 1986. "Humility revisited: Self-esteem, information search, and policy consistency," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 196-206, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Laurent, Catherine E. & Berriet-Solliec, Marielle & Kirsch, Marc & Labarthe, Pierre & Trouve, Aurelie, 2010. "Multifunctionality Of Agriculture, Public Policies And Scientific Evidences: Some Critical Issues Of Contemporary Controversies," APSTRACT: Applied Studies in Agribusiness and Commerce, AGRIMBA, vol. 4(1-2), pages 1-6.
    2. Hsu, Dan K. & Burmeister-Lamp, Katrin & Simmons, Sharon A. & Foo, Maw-Der & Hong, Michelle C. & Pipes, Jesse D., 2019. "“I know I can, but I don't fit”: Perceived fit, self-efficacy, and entrepreneurial intention," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 311-326.
    3. Krueger, Norris & Bogers, Marcel L.A.M. & Labaki, Rania & Basco, Rodrigo, 2021. "Advancing family business science through context theorizing: The case of the Arab world," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 12(1).
    4. Choi, James J. & Haisley, Emily & Kurkoski, Jennifer & Massey, Cade, 2017. "Small cues change savings choices," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 378-395.
    5. Catherine Welch & Eriikka Paavilainen-Mäntymäki & Rebecca Piekkari & Emmanuella Plakoyiannaki, 2022. "Reconciling theory and context: How the case study can set a new agenda for international business research," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 53(1), pages 4-26, February.
    6. Weber, Ellen & Büttgen, Marion & Bartsch, Silke, 2022. "How to take employees on the digital transformation journey: An experimental study on complementary leadership behaviors in managing organizational change," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 225-238.
    7. Milazzo, M.F. & Spina, F. & Primerano, P. & Bart, J.C.J., 2013. "Soy biodiesel pathways: Global prospects," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 579-624.
    8. Ravi KANBUR & Lucas RONCONI, 2018. "Enforcement matters: The effective regulation of labour," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 157(3), pages 331-356, September.
    9. Ferreira, Manuel Portugal & Li, Dan & Guisinger, Stephen & Serra, Fernando A. Ribeiro, 2009. "Será o ambiente internacional de negócios o contexto efetivo para a pesquisa em negócios internacionais?," RAE - Revista de Administração de Empresas, FGV-EAESP Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo (Brazil), vol. 49(3), July.
    10. Stephanie B Linek & Benedikt Fecher & Sascha Friesike & Marcel Hebing, 2017. "Data sharing as social dilemma: Influence of the researcher’s personality," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 12(8), pages 1-24, August.
    11. Robert E. Marks, 2010. "Welcome to SAGE Publications," Australian Journal of Management, Australian School of Business, vol. 35(1), pages 3-5, April.
    12. Petraud, Jean & Boucher, Stephen & Carter, Michael, 2015. "Competing theories of risk preferences and the demand for crop insurance: Experimental evidence from Peru," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 211383, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    13. Jana Schmutzler & Edward Lorenz, 2018. "Tolerance, agglomeration, and enterprise innovation performance: a multilevel analysis of Latin American regions," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(2), pages 243-268.
    14. Baert, Stijn, 2015. "Hiring a Homosexual, Taking a Risk? A Lab Experiment on Employment Discrimination and Risk Aversion," IZA Discussion Papers 9536, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    15. Dörrenbächer, Christoph & Gammelgaard, Jens & McDonald, Frank & Stephan, Andreas & Tüselmann, Heinz, 2013. "Staffing foreign subsidiaries with parent country nationals or host country nationals? Insights from European subsidiaries," Working Papers 74, Berlin School of Economics and Law, Institute of Management Berlin (IMB).
    16. Alejandro Bonvecchi & Carlos Scartascini, 2011. "The Presidency and the Executive Branch in Latin America: What We Know and What We Need to Know," Research Department Publications 4756, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    17. Yip, Jeremy A. & Schweitzer, Maurice E., 2022. "Norms for Behavioral Change (NBC) model: How injunctive norms and enforcement shift descriptive norms in science," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 168(C).
    18. Richter, Barbara & Hanf, Jon H. & Bitsch, Linda & Yang, Yanlin & Li, Shuo, 2020. "Dragon Head Enterprises in China's Wine Production - The Example of Changyu," 60th Annual Conference, Halle/ Saale, Germany, September 23-25, 2020 305610, German Association of Agricultural Economists (GEWISOLA).
    19. Hemant Merchant & Ajai Gaur, 2008. "Opening the ‘Non-Manufacturing’ envelope: The next big enterprise for international business research," Management International Review, Springer, vol. 48(4), pages 379-396, April.
    20. Thomas Bizimana & Pierre Claver Kayumba & Lutz Heide, 2020. "Prices, availability and affordability of medicines in Rwanda," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(8), pages 1-14, August.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:inm:ororsc:v:24:y:2013:i:5:p:1517-1538. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Matthew Walls (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.