Is a bad mentor better than no mentor?

Jiwon Jung, Barry Bozeman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Mentoring is generally touted as beneficial, yet not all mentoring is good, and the literature gives scant attention to the effects of quality of mentoring on career outcomes. Our study aims to close the gap by providing a comparison among three groups – employees with a good mentor, a bad mentor, and no mentor at all. The study finds that for more than 3,000 respondents, those with a mentor, even a bad one, enjoy the benefits of mentorship. However, the idea that having a bad mentor is better than no mentorship is only partly correct – it is contingent on just how bad and bad in what ways. The quality of the mentoring experience influences job satisfaction more while a mere presence of a mentor is important for the salary of the protégés. Furthermore, mentored public sector workers, unlike workers in the private and non-profit sectors, have a lower salary and job satisfaction compared to those who have no mentor. We provide suggestions about what may account for this unexpected and curious finding.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)444-475
    Number of pages32
    JournalInternational Journal of Learning and Change
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - 2020


    • Bad mentoring
    • Mentoring
    • Mentoring experience
    • Mentoring outcomes
    • Quality of mentoring
    • Sector difference
    • Work outcomes

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education
    • Management of Technology and Innovation


    Dive into the research topics of 'Is a bad mentor better than no mentor?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this