Emphasizing “me” or “we”: Training framing and self-concept in network-based leadership development

Theresa M. Floyd, Kristin L. Cullen-Lester, Houston F. Lester, Travis J. Grosser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This study explores how the motivational framing of a network training program may positively or (inadvertently) adversely impact participants' discomfort with strategic networking and motivation to network. We examine the impact of a “me-focused” framing (i.e., on the personal career benefits that individuals can accrue through strategic networking) and a “we-focused” framing (i.e., on the benefits to the team/organization of individuals' strategic networking) compared to a control group in two field-based quasi-experiments. In both studies, we found no difference between the two training frames in their effect on the two training outcomes when looking at participants' reactions, on average. However, in the second study, we find that individual differences in the way participants relate to others (i.e., the extent to which they endorse an individual or a collective self-concept) change the impact of the framing on their discomfort with and motivation to network. The findings highlight the importance of considering the match or mismatch between training framing and self-concept. In the we-focused condition, a match was related to decreased networking discomfort, while a mismatch was related to increased discomfort and decreased motivation. In the me-focused condition, a mismatch was counter-intuitively related to decreased discomfort. These findings suggest that considering participants' reactions to training (i.e., change in discomfort and motivation), on average, may mask important differences in their response to network-based training and that tailoring network training to participants' self-concepts may be an important consideration for human resource management professionals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)637-659
Number of pages23
JournalHuman Resource Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2023


  • networking
  • networking discomfort
  • networking motivation
  • self-concept
  • training frame


Dive into the research topics of 'Emphasizing “me” or “we”: Training framing and self-concept in network-based leadership development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this