Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science

, Volume 41, Issue 6, pp 625–648 | Cite as

It’s a matter of congruence: How interpersonal identification between sales managers and salespersons shapes sales success

  • Michael Ahearne
  • Till Haumann
  • Florian Kraus
  • Jan WiesekeEmail author
Original Empirical Research


In recent years, marketing research and practice have recognized the importance of managing frontline employees’ identification. However, investigations so far have focused on identification at the collective level of the self, such as organizational identification, thereby largely neglecting important interpersonal identification processes at the relational level. Using a large-scale dataset comprising information from sales managers and salespeople as well as company data on customer satisfaction and sales performance, the authors make a first attempt to address this neglect by exploring important phenomena of interpersonal identification in the sales manager–salesperson dyad. Results show that initial increases in the level of identification congruence between sales managers and their respective salespeople yield positive incremental effects on sales performance and customer satisfaction. Findings also show that interpersonal over-identification and identification incongruence are negatively related to both outcomes. Results demonstrate how sales managers could mitigate these negative effects.


Interpersonal identification Organizational identification Salespeople Sales performance Customer satisfaction 



The authors thank Pascal Güntürkün, Sven Mikolon, three anonymous reviewers, and the editor, Tomas Hult, for their helpful comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Ahearne
    • 1
  • Till Haumann
    • 2
  • Florian Kraus
    • 3
  • Jan Wieseke
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Sales Excellence Institute, C.T. Bauer College of BusinessUniversity of HoustonHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Marketing DepartmentRuhr-University BochumBochumGermany
  3. 3.Dr. Werner Jackstädt Endowed Chair of Business Administration and Marketing IVUniversity of MannheimMannheimGermany
  4. 4.Marketing DepartmentRuhr-University BochumBochumGermany

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