Enhancing innovation commercialization through supervisor–sales rep fit

  • Sebastian HohenbergEmail author
  • Christian Homburg
Original Empirical Research


Drawing on fit theory and the revised achievement goal theory, this study investigates supervisor–sales rep fit for innovation commercialization according to three goal orientations: learning, performance, and failure avoidance orientation. Two large-scale dyadic studies of a total of 387 supervisor–sales rep dyads revealed that supervisor–sales rep fit strongly affects the sales success of innovations but only negligibly influences the sales success of established solutions. Further investigations showed that this difference occurs because both supplementary and complementary relationships between supervisors’ and sales reps’ goal orientations can alter reps’ role stress regarding innovation selling. Moreover, results reveal that firms can magnify the effects of supervisor–sales rep fit on innovation sales success by tying sales reps’ variable compensation more closely to innovation sales. Results also show that firms interested in reducing the negative consequences of a problematic supervisor–sales rep match should facilitate and encourage supervisors’ appreciative communication with the sales reps.


Innovation commercialization Revised achievement goal theory Supervisor–sales rep fit 



The authors thank Arnd Vomberg, Jana Prigge, Marcus Theel, Sina Böhler, and Nathalie Harz for their helpful comments on previous versions of the paper. The valuable discussions with Stephan Ulbrich are also gratefully acknowledged. Finally, the authors thank the review team for the constructive suggestions.

Supplementary material

11747_2019_644_MOESM1_ESM.docx (106 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 106 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.McCombs School of Business, Department of MarketingUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  2. 2.University of MannheimMannheimGermany
  3. 3.University of ManchesterManchesterUK

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