Todd L. Pittinsky
Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government
Upward Advice Transmission to Leaders in Organizations: Review and Conceptual Analysis.
Pittinsky, Todd L., and Bonnie Poon. "Upward Advice Transmission to Leaders in Organizations: Review and Conceptual Analysis." KSG Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP05-007, February 2005.
Advice is often given by individuals who have greater experience, expertise, and wisdom, in order to help someone with less experience, expertise, or wisdom in decision making and problem solving. In many cases, the advisor also possesses formal authority, power, and position. In these cases, advice flows downwards from those with greater formal authority to those with less formal authority. In this paper, the opposite phenomenon is explored: upward advice transmission. The study of the flow of advice from a person with less formal authority to a person with greater formal authority-for example, a formal leader in an organization-provides an important new perspective on advice, particularly for those interested in empowerment in organizations. This paper reviews the empirical and theoretical literature addressing advice transmission and examines advice transmission in the context of formal hierarchical relationships. It then identifies and describes the key variables which research in related literatures suggests might be profitably studied to enhance the research and practical understanding of upward advice transmission in organizations. Variables in five categories-characteristics of the leader, characteristics of the follower, characteristics of the leader-follower relationship, characteristics of the advice, and organizational structural characteristics of the leader-follower relationship-are considered. Directions for research and applications to practice are discussed.