Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Julie Dinh

Committee Members

Kristin Sommer

Harold Goldstein

Logan Watts

Deepshikha Chatterjee

Subject Categories

Industrial and Organizational Psychology


leadership development program, self-nomination, leadership self-efficacy, gender differences, cultural values


Organizations are looking for ways to increase representation of women in leadership and leadership development programs (LDPs). Traditionally, individuals are nominated for entry into these programs, which can result in bias against groups generally underrepresented in leadership. In response, firms may consider using a self-nomination model for entry, whereby individuals submit themselves for consideration for an LDP. However, scant research has focused on the implications of utilizing such a process.

The current work provides a first step towards filling this gap by examining gender and cultural differences in LDP self-nomination. Drawing from the proactive behavior literature, the present study examined differences in LDP self-nomination for women and men, generally and in interaction with personal cultural values—individualism, power distance (PD), and gender egalitarianism (GE). Additionally, leadership self-efficacy (LSE) was examined as a mediating mechanism. Finally, attitudes and interests towards leadership development and LDPs were examined as exploratory outcomes.

Predictions were tested using a cross-sectional design with 344 undergraduate students. Participants completed several self-report measures of the focal variables before being given the opportunity to nominate themselves for a fictitious LDP.

Results suggested that participant gender and personal cultural values largely did not predict LDP self-nomination. However, being male and having higher GE were both associated with higher LSE which, in turn, predicted LDP self-nomination. Gender and GE had indirect effects on LDP self-nomination through their effects on LSE. This reaffirms the key role LSE plays in understanding LDP self-nomination, providing a potential intervention point for practitioners. In the case of gender, there was a suppression effect, whereby the overall influence of being female on LDP self-nomination was non-significant (but positive) while the indirect influence through LSE was negative. This suggests that there may be other mediators that are contributing to women self-nominating at higher rates. None of the interactions of gender and the personal cultural values were significantly related to LSE. Additionally, study findings emphasized the importance of using a variety of outcome measures to understand interest in leadership development. For example, though LSE was significantly, positively related to all leadership development variables, it was more strongly related to general measures than vignette-specific outcomes. These measures also differed with respect to the influence of personal cultural values. Finally, though not the study focus, results highlighted that extraversion was positively related to LSE and LDP self-nomination.

From a scientific perspective, this study expands the limited research on entry into LDPs and bridges the cultural values and proactive behavior literatures. For practitioners, this study helps to better understand some of the potential benefits and unintended consequences of moving towards a self-nomination process and provides a potential intervention point through targeting LSE. Taken together, the present study provided some cautious initial optimism but does not yet fully support the use of a self-nomination process for LDPs, especially without proper monitoring of gender diversity and the encouragement of more introverted potential future leaders. Nonetheless, the overall non-significant difference between men and women in LDP self-nomination suggests that moving towards self-nomination warrants more attention by both researchers and practitioners.