نفوذ اجتماعی و حمایت سازمانی ادراک شده: تجزیه و تحلیل شبکه های اجتماعی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|37258||2010||12 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Volume 111, Issue 2, March 2010, Pages 127–138
We suggest that employees’ perceptions of organizational support (POS) are not solely a product of independent evaluations of treatment offered by the organization, but are also shaped by the social context. We argue that coworkers will directly (through inquiry via cohesive friendship and advice ties) and indirectly (through monitoring of employees structurally equivalent in advice and friendship networks) affect employees’ perceived organizational support. Network studies in the admissions department of a large public university and a private company specializing in food and animal safety products indicate that employees’ POS are similar to those of coworkers with whom they maintain advice relationships as well as to those who hold structurally equivalent positions in organizational friendship and advice networks. Our work contributes to organizational support theory by developing and testing a theoretical explanation for the relationship between the social context and perceptions of support among employees. Implications for research and practice are offered.
Organizational support theory (OST; Aselage and Eisenberger, 2003 and Eisenberger et al., 1986) suggests that treatment offered by the organization (in terms of fairness, job conditions, and supervisory relationships) serves as a signal to employees regarding the extent to which the organization values their contributions and cares about their well-being (perceived organizational support; POS). Consistent with social exchange theory (Blau, 1964) and the reciprocity norm (Gouldner, 1960), POS obligates employees who feel supported to reciprocate by expressing greater affective organizational commitment, performing citizenship behaviors, and exhibiting lower levels of withdrawal (Rhoades & Eisenberger, 2002). As a result, organizations that foster POS within employees are thought to have a competitive advantage over organizations that do not (Pfeffer, 2005). Our fundamental contention in this research is that the formation of POS is not solely psychological but also a social process influenced by information that employees acquire from the social context. Although OST research on the antecedents and consequences of POS offers relatively consistent results (see Rhoades and Eisenberger (2002), for a meta-analysis), we argue that its explanatory power is limited because it implicitly assumes that employees independently observe and interpret treatment offered by the organization. As a result, OST provides only individual-level psychological explanations for employees’ perceptions of treatment offered to them by the organization. Yet social exchange relationships in general (Emerson, 1976) and the formation of POS in particular (Eisenberger, Jones, Aselage, & Sucharski, 2004) require that employees collect and interpret a great deal of information, much of which can only be obtained through interaction with coworkers (Eisenberger et al., 2004) or by monitoring the organizational environment (Kiewitz, Restubog, Zagenczyk, & Hochwarter, 2009). Despite this, past theoretical and empirical research has devoted scant attention to the effects of the social context on employees’ POS (Kiewitz et al., 2009). Although Eisenberger et al.’s (2004) theoretical work suggests that employees develop POS through socialization processes, it does not explicitly describe the manner in which coworkers and the overall social structure of the organization are related to POS. Accordingly, the objective of this study is to clarify how employees’ direct relationships (advice and friendship ties) and positions in the social structure of the organization (advice and friendship structural equivalence) shape POS. We suggest that by expanding organizational support theory to account for social influence, we will increase its predictive validity. To make our arguments, we draw on research on employee socialization (Morrison, 1993), social referent selection (Shah, 1998), and social influence (e.g., Burt, 1987, Festinger, 1954 and Salancik and Pfeffer, 1978) to specify relationships between the social context and POS. We test our hypotheses in two social network studies in different settings – the admissions department of a large public university and a private company specializing in food and animal safety product manufacturing and sales. We further elaborate on our theoretical model and predictions below. Literature review and hypotheses development Organizational support theory Organizational support theory suggests that employees pay attention to treatment offered by the organization in order to discern the extent to which the organization is supportive and values their contributions (Eisenberger et al., 1986). To this end, employees infer that the treatment offered to them by agents of the organization is indicative of organization’s overall favorable or unfavorable orientation towards them (Eisenberger et al., 1986). Accordingly, OST is rooted in Levinson’s (1965) observation that employees personify and form social exchange relationships with their organizations. OST argues that treatment stemming from the organization or its agents serves as a signal to employees regarding the extent to which they are supported. For example, researchers have demonstrated that organizational justice promotes employee trust in the organization which reduces fears concerning inadequate compensation and job loss (Masterson et al., 2000, Wayne et al., 2002 and Wayne et al., 1997). Human resource practices such as inclusion, participation, rewards, developmental experiences, and promotions are indicative of the organization’s respect for the ability of employees and thus relate positively to POS (Allen et al., 2003, Hutchison, 1997, Wayne et al., 2002 and Wayne et al., 1997). Likewise, treatment offered by supervisors and leaders affects POS because they are regarded as a physical manifestation of the organization by employees (Eisenberger et al., 2002, Levinson, 1965, Rhoades et al., 2001 and Wayne et al., 1997). Finally, treatment offered by the organization that is perceived as discretionary – or within the control of the organization – exerts a stronger influence on POS as this sends a stronger signal regarding the organizations’ positive (or negative) orientation towards them (Eisenberger, Cummings, Armeli, & Lynch, 1997). When employees perceive that they are supported, they tend to be committed to and identify with the organization as well as help the organization succeed through citizenship behavior and decreased withdrawal behaviors (Rhoades & Eisenberger, 2002). The social context and organizational support theory Overall, OST offers a logical individual-level psychological explanation for the formation and consequences of POS. Yet the implicit assumption of social exchange theory and OST, that employees independently evaluate organizational treatment, leads to a relatively undersocialized view of employer–employee exchange. Emerson (1976) argues that social exchange theory (as conceptualized by Blau, 1964 and Homans, 1958) encompasses only the application of economic and individual psychological principles to dyadic relationships involving socioemotional resources. This view is limited, he reasons, because social exchange occurs within a social context which affects both perceptions of exchange relationships as well as the exchange behavior of individuals. The importance of the social context is exacerbated by the ambiguity and complexity characteristic of today’s organizations (Martinko and Gardner, 1987 and Salancik and Pfeffer, 1978). In such environments, employees have difficulty discerning who to credit (or blame) for treatment provided to them (Martinko and Gardner, 1987, Rentsch, 1990 and Salancik and Pfeffer, 1978). As a result, employees collect data from coworkers and use it to evaluate their jobs, work environments, and organizations (Friedkin, 1998, Ho and Levesque, 2005, Kiewitz et al., 2009 and Salancik and Pfeffer, 1978). While these studies highlight that the subjective nature of employer–employee exchange relationships makes the social context an important determinant of how such relationships are perceived, they do not specifically illustrate how the social context affects POS. Research on socialization in organizations may help us to understand the effects of the social context on POS (Eisenberger et al., 2004). Festinger (1954) argues, and Ostroff and Kozlowski (1992) demonstrate, that employees tend to rely on coworkers (as opposed to managers or even objective information) to understand norms, standards, and impressions of the organization. Morrison (1993) found that employees’ acquire information through inquiry (asking questions directly) and monitoring (observation of the behavior and actions of others and asking third parties for information about what another thinks). Employees were more apt to look to coworkers (as opposed to supervisors) for information due to the perceived relevance of their views. Eisenberger et al. (2004) argued that some of the same processes that occur during employee socialization shape the formation of support perceptions. Prior to employment, employees collect information about the way that the organization treats its employees from friends and family familiar with the organization. Upon beginning their employment, employees seek information which confirms and expands the knowledge that they have already collected. As a result, an employees’ POS is a product of their observations of how the organization treats coworkers coupled with their view of organization treats them (Eisenberger et al., 2004). In sum, the research of Eisenberger et al., 2004 and Morrison, 1993 suggest that employees’ POS may be influenced by non-organizational agents via social influence which occurs through monitoring of and direct interaction with coworkers. Surprisingly, however, little or no empirical research has explored this proposition. Social networks, social influence, and organizational support In his critique of social exchange theory, Emerson (1976) suggested that researchers draw on social networks to explain the effects of the larger social system on dyadic exchange relationships. Social networks research focuses on patterns of social relations among a set of actors to explain social phenomena (Wasserman & Faust, 1994). Social network ties provide opportunities for employees to understand what others think, feel, say, and do about organizational events and are therefore the medium through which social influence occurs in organizations (Ibarra and Andrews, 1993 and Krackhardt and Brass, 1994). Emerson argued that utilization of social networks could explain how the interaction of an individual within broader social network of actors affects how perceptions of exchange relationships develop. We apply this logic and argue that social influence will affect employees’ perceptions of their exchange relationships with organizations. Social influence can affect an individual’s belief structure directly through cohesion or indirectly through structural equivalence (Burt, 1987). Cohesion occurs when a direct relationship, such as a friendship or advice relationship, exists between employees (Burt, 1987). Such direct relationships result in information exchange which results in similarity in perceptions and beliefs. Alternately, employees are said to be structurally equivalent to the extent that they share the same relationships with the same set of other people in the organization regardless of whether they are connected themselves (Lorrain & White, 1971). Employees who are structurally equivalent tend to see each other as comparable or substitutes for one another (Ho & Levesque, 2005) and, at times, competitors (Burt, 1987). As a result, structural equivalents often adopt similar perceptions or attitudes due to the fact that they have ties with similar others and are thus exposed to the same information. Shah (1998) argued that social networks research helps to explain from whom and how employees acquire information informally in organizations. Shah suggested that employees would monitor individuals who are structurally equivalent to themselves in organizational social networks to obtain job-relevant information, defined as technical and performance information that pertains to an employee’s job, because competition often exists between structurally equivalent employees as they frequently occupy similar roles in the organization. Information seekers may fear they will be perceived as less competent if they attempt to acquire information from structural equivalents directly. On the other hand, employees are apt to seek general organizational information by asking cohesive coworkers directly. This is because asking about general organizational information, defined as normative and social information relevant to organizational information or adaptation to a firm’s culture or social system, is less likely to make other employees doubt the competence of the employee. POS is influenced by both job-relevant information (performance reviews, feedback, etc.) and general organizational information, treatment provided by the organization that is not specifically related to employees’ jobs. Thus, Shah’s (1998) research suggests that POS will be shaped by both direct inquiry (of cohesive coworkers) and monitoring (of structural equivalents). Cohesive ties and similarity in POS In their articulation of social information processing theory, Salancik and Pfeffer (1978) argue that employees process social information that they acquire through direct interaction with cohesive ties. Interaction with coworkers makes certain dimensions of the workplace more salient, provides information on coworkers’ evaluations of these dimensions, and affects how employees interpret and evaluate the organizational environment itself and the events that occur within it (Rentsch, 1990). Accordingly, Salancik and Pfeffer (1978) suggest that employees who interact tend to have greater interpersonal similarity with respect to perceptions or attitudes than do employees who do not interact. Research shows that social information processing results in similar perceptions of new technology (Rice & Aydin, 1991), job-related perceptions (Ibarra & Andrews, 1993), performance of citizenship behavior in workgroups (Bommer, Miles, & Grover, 2003), and interpretations of organizational events (Rentsch, 1990). One network tie through which social information is exchanged is the advice tie. Advice ties are instrumental relationships through which employees share job- and organization related information (Ibarra, 1993) and are thus an important source of social information (e.g., Umphress, Labianca, Brass, Kass, & Scholten, 2003). Researchers have found that advice ties are related to employees’ perceptions of procedural and interactional justice (Umphress et al., 2003) as well as beliefs about technology (Burkhardt, 1994). Advice givers are influential in organizations because they have high levels of task mastery and organizational knowledge (Morrison, 2002); as a result coworkers tend to trust that they have the ability and competence to provide help (Ho and Levesque, 2005 and McAllister, 1995). Accordingly, asking an individual for advice is an indication of respect for the individual’s opinion and an expectation that the information shared is useful and valuable (Ho, 2005). Therefore, advice-givers are perceived as powerful by their coworkers (e.g., Brass & Burkhardt, 1993). Evidence suggests that advice ties between employees result in organizational stability because they facilitate work-related information transfer, which serves to coordinate activities in the organization and reinforce organizational norms (Gibbons, 2004). Given that POS is at least partly comprised of general organizational information and employees rely on advice ties when seeking to understand organizational information (Ho & Levesque, 2005), we hypothesize that employees will tend to adopt POS that is similar to the POS of employees who provide advice to them.