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Getting A’s in B-School: Do Conservatism and Conventional Ambition Predict Higher GPA?
AuthorNesbitt, Ian S.
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Performance in higher education is driven by more than intelligence and effort. According to the Person-Environment fit literature, when individuals have similar values to the organizations they inhabit, they perform better. Moreover, the same literature claims that individuals’ performance will also improve when their needs are well-satisfied by their environment. The present study draws on these aspects of Person-Environment fit to unite two lines of research on the subject of performance in college-level business courses. One line argues that conservative college students earn higher grades in business courses due to a match between their own values and those found in the business school curriculum. The other line argues that the apparent influence of students’ political identification on their college outcomes is really driven by differences in ambitions. In other words, conservatives tend to have a higher desire to achieve goals related to the American Dream than liberals, which influences their success in business school and beyond. While the former line only speculates as to why conservatives earn higher grades in business, the latter only speculates that differences in students’ ambitions have real-world implications. In an effort to unite these ideas, the present research evaluates whether conventional ambition mediates the effect of conservatism on GPA in business courses.