Proceedings of 10th Asian Business Research Conference

Proceedings of 10th Asian Business Research Conference
6 - 7 October 2014, Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square, Bangkok, Thailand, ISBN: 978-1-922069-62-7
Cognitive Dissonance among Sales Team: Effects on Job
Performance, Organizational Commitment and Turnover
Ray Chaudhuri, Nisha, Klieb and Leslie
Ask any sales person and they will gladly share stories of how they had to sell products/services in which
they did not believe. They will say that they continued selling despite knowing that the product was of no
or little value to their customers. Did those sales people experience any negative thoughts/feelings?
Were they dissatisfied with what the job they were tasked to do? Did it affect their job performance?
This state of discomfort is called cognitive dissonance in the psychological literature. Marketing literature,
although much concerned with the idea of dissonance, does not seem to have researched whether the
sales people experience this uncomfortable state and what impact it has.
Because of this reason, it could very well be considered a ‘new’ variable to this field. The central
Research Question of this dissertation centers therefore on the following issue: - what if the salespeople
do not believe that the service they sell offers value to the customer? Will they still be able to provide the
customer with tangible cues that can turn the interaction into a sale? Will their dissonance with the
service they sell affect their level of job satisfaction, organizational commitment and perhaps even their
intention to quit?
A qualitative pilot was conducted during which nine sales people from the industry of for-profit higher
education marketing were interviewed. The reports all pointed to the existence of dissonance among the
respondents. While the word dissonance was not introduced into the interviews by the researcher or the
respondents, what did come through was clear manifestations of dissonance itself. Respondents talked
about how they felt they were either doing something wrong (lying about the product and/or
exaggerating), or how they were not doing anything wrong (customers were told the whole truth about the
University. If they decide to commit to it, that is their own decision and has nothing to do with us – a
statement that implies denial of conflicting thoughts typical of dissonance).
A survey questionnaire was designed and distributed among salespeople in higher education marketing.
Existing scales were used to measure the constructs of job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and
turnover intentions. A new set of items was created to measure dissonance. A total of 103 completed
surveys were received.
The analysis showed that dissonance had a considerable impact on people’s turnover intentions, an
impact that was approximately equal in importance to the other independent variables.. In a Structural
Equation Model analysis, supported by various regression analyses, about half of the variation in
intention to quit was explained by the variation in the five independent variables.
This shows a clear gap in the scientific literature and has important consequences to the management of
sales people in certain industries.
Ms. Nisha Ray Chaudhuri, School of Business & Technology, Webster University Thailand, Petchburi, Thailand