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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Vocational Behavior, Volume 68, Issue 2, April 2006, Pages 267–291
Two studies were conducted to examine how perceptions of support for mentoring relate to mentoring attitudes and outcomes for both protégés and mentors, over and above established predictors. In study 1, protégés provided information on their perceptions of support for mentoring and mentoring received. As expected, perceived management support for mentoring was positively related to career-related and psychosocial support; and perceived mentor accountability for mentoring was negatively related to mentoring problems. In study 2, we examined mentors’ perceptions of support for mentoring in relation to their willingness to mentor others in the future and the extent to which they viewed their current relationship as complementary. Mentors’ perceptions of management support for mentoring were positively related to their belief that mentoring relationships were mutually beneficial. However, consistent with theories of self-determination, as mentors’ perceptions of their own accountability in the relationship increased their willingness to mentor others in the future decreased. Implications for mentoring theory, future research, and applied practice are discussed.
Mentoring is an interpersonal relationship between a senior, more experienced individual (the mentor) and a junior, less experienced individual (the protégé) (Kram, 1985). Mentors provide various types of assistance to protégés, including career-related (e.g., coaching, sponsorship) and psychosocial (e.g., acceptance and confirmation, counseling) support. Mentoring is related to favorable work and career attitudes, lower intentions to leave the organization, higher pay, and faster promotion rates (Allen, Eby, Poteet, Lentz, & Lima, 2004). Given the links between mentoring and protégé outcomes, a substantial body of research exists on the predictors of career-related and psychosocial mentoring (for a review see, Wanberg, Welsh, & Hezlett, 2003). While less extensively studied, some research has also focused on the mentor’s perspective by identifying predictors of mentoring provided and willingness to mentor, as well as identifying the potential benefits of mentoring for mentors (see Wanberg et al., 2003). Notably absent in mentoring research are protégés’ and mentors’ perceptions of workplace support for mentoring. This is surprising given Kram’s (1985) discussion of the pivotal role that organizational agents, most notably managers, play in encouraging, shaping, and reinforcing values which support the development and sustenance of mentoring relationships. Moreover, the work environment can facilitate ineffective mentoring dynamics. For instance, managers may display competitive behavior and reinforce strict status differences among individuals, both of which may deter effective mentoring. Research exists on managerial and organizational support for learning and development as predictors of employee participation in developmental activities (e.g., Birdi et al., 1997 and Mauer and Tarulli, 1994) and employee use of skills learned in training (Rouiller and Goldstein, 1993 and Tracey et al., 1995). However, no research that we are aware of has examined perceived support for mentoring from the protégé’s or mentor’s perspective. Two studies were conducted to address these gaps in the literature. Study 1 examined the relationship between protégés’ perceptions of support for mentoring and their report of both positive (e.g., career-related and psychosocial mentoring) and negative (e.g., mentor distancing behavior, mentor manipulation) mentoring experiences. Examining both positive and negative aspects of mentoring is important given their conceptual and empirical distinctiveness (Eby, Butts, Lockwood, & Simon, 2004), as well as the increasing recognition that mentoring can provide both positive and negative experiences for protégés (Eby and Allen, 2002 and Eby et al., 2000). In Study 2, data were collected from mentors. This allowed us to examine how mentors’ reports of support for mentoring related to the extent to which they found the relationship to be beneficial as well as to their willingness to mentor others in the future. 1.1. Perceived support for mentoring Several areas of research suggest that the construct of perceived support for mentoring may be an important omitted variable in existing mentoring research. This includes mentoring theory, social learning theory, and social information processing theory. Each of these perspectives is described below, followed by an integration of these theories and the development of study-specific hypotheses. 1.1.1. Mentoring theory Seminal work by Kram (1985) discusses how the culture of an organization plays a powerful role in encouraging or, conversely, discouraging mentoring relationships. Since mentoring exists in the broader context of an organization, she argues that it is “essential to understand how an organization’s structures and processes influence behavior in order to maintain those features that encourage supportive relationships and to modify those that impede them” (p. 16). In an organization that supports mentoring, managers encourage mentoring activities and as such individuals are more likely to invest the time and energy to develop relationships that support others’ professional and personal growth (Kram, 1985). Therefore, in organizations where managers encourage the formation of mentoring relationships, make employee development a priority, and offer rewards to those who engage in mentoring, conditions are created that are favorable to the provision of mentoring, and there is an increased likelihood that mentoring relationships will benefit both mentors and protégés. More recent qualitative (Allen, Poteet, & Burroughs, 1997) and theoretical (Wanberg et al., 2003) work reinforces Kram’s ideas about the potentially powerful role that organizational norms and values have on mentoring relationships. Allen et al. (1997) found that perceived support for employee learning and development was the most commonly reported facilitating factor for mentoring relationships as reported by mentors. Also consistent with Kram (1985), a competitive or highly political environment was discussed by some mentors as inhibiting mentoring relationships (Allen et al., 1997). Further, Wanberg et al.’s (2003) conceptual framework for formal mentoring discusses how mentoring is embedded within the goals and values of the organization, and how this may influence mentoring processes and outcomes. 1.1.2. Social learning theory Social learning theory (Bandura, 1977) proposes that one mechanism by which individuals learn is the observation of others in their social environment. Such imitative learning is most likely to occur if the role model is relevant, credible, and knowledgeable, and if the behavior is rewarded by others (Noe, 2002 and Wexley and Latham, 1991). In order for learning to occur, individuals must observe appropriate behavior; if there are no role models for the desired behavior then individuals are less likely to learn. Further, once the behavior is learned, reinforcement is necessary in order for it to be maintained. Social learning theory also provides an explanation for inappropriate organizational behavior. When sanctions for misbehavior do not exist it is more likely that inappropriate behavior will occur (Bandura, 1977). In the context of mentoring, managers serve as particularly powerful social referents since they are credible, control both reinforcements and punishments, and tend to serve as mentors for others. 1.1.3. Social information processing theory Social information processing theory (Salancik & Pfeffer, 1978) also proposes that individuals develop expectations about appropriate behavior based on information from their social environment. Aspects of the social environment that serve as behavioral cues include co-workers and managers. These individuals serve as filters for incoming information and help individuals interpret their work environment. As such, this theory suggests that reality is construed on the basis of relevant and salient information in the social environment. The social information processing perspective also attests that consequences not only shape future behavior, but also beliefs about the social context. In other words, people reach conclusions about appropriate and inappropriate behavior based on the rewards and sanctions associated with their own behavior as well as the behavior of others. O’Leary-Kelly and colleagues use social information theory to help explain antisocial and aggressive organizational behavior, arguing that individuals learn what is regulated by the organization based on the extent to which misbehavior is monitored and subsequently punished by managers (O’Leary-Kelly et al., 1996 and Robinson and O’Leary-Kelly, 1998). Moreover, while formal sanctions can deter misconduct (Hollinger and Clark, 1983 and Tittle, 1977) managers can condone inappropriate behavior by failing to take employee complaints seriously or not having grievance processes in place. Research on sexual harassment illustrates the powerful role of inaction, finding a higher incidence of sexual harassment and a lower likelihood of reporting offenses in organizations where harassment claims are minimized and not taken seriously by managers (Bergman et al., 2002 and Fitzgerald et al., 1997). 1.2. Integration and proposed dimensionality of perceived support for mentoring The focal variable in the present study is perceived support for mentoring. Since managers are key representatives of the organization and play an important role in transmitting organizational values and beliefs to employees (Chao et al., 1994 and Ostroff and Kozlowski, 1992), we focus on employee perceptions of management support. Two specific dimensions of support are considered. The first is perceived management support for mentoring and is defined as beliefs that agents of the organization recognize the importance of mentoring, that managerial role models for appropriate mentoring behavior are available, and that mentors are rewarded for their mentoring efforts. As discussed in Kram’s (1985) seminal work on mentoring, as well as in social learning theory and social information processing theory, managerial attitudes and actions shape employee perceptions about the organization’s values, priorities, and goals. Thus, we argue that perceived management support for mentoring sets the tone for mentoring behavior within the organization. A second aspect of support for mentoring is perceived accountability for mentoring. This includes the belief that mentors are held accountable for their behavior and that policies are in place to effectively deal with problems that may arise between mentor and protégé. This is conceptualized as a distinct component of perceived support for mentoring based on the theories just reviewed. Specifically, these theories suggest that sanctioning and regulating behavior to reduce misconduct is a different process than rewarding appropriate behavior. While perceived support for mentoring seems conceptually similar to perceived organizational support (POS) (Eisenberger, Huntington, Hutchinson, & Sowa, 1986), there are important differences between these constructs. POS is much broader; it captures general support perceptions and beliefs that the organization values one’s contributions and cares about one’s well-being. Our construct is more specific by referring only to perceptions of support for mentoring. Perhaps more importantly, the referent in support for mentoring is the mentoring relationship, not the employee or organization. Another distinction is that POS reflects an employee’s affective reaction to the organization whereas support for mentoring does not have an affective orientation. Support for mentoring is more cognitive in nature, reflecting the extent to which individuals believe that managers reinforce employee development through mentoring in their day-to-day behaviors and implementation of organizational practices. A final difference is that POS emphasizes the social exchange between employee and the organization. Perceived support does not carry with it the idea of reciprocity between protégé and mentor or between protégé and the organization. We decided to examine perceived support for mentoring rather than POS in this research given our interest in understanding attitudes and behaviors relevant to mentoring relationships, rather than general work attitudes and employee outcomes.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between protégés’ and mentors’ perceptions of support for mentoring and mentoring outcomes. Four general conclusions can be reached. First, support for mentoring is predictive of protégé and mentor outcomes, over and above other established predictors. Second, support for mentoring is a multidimensional construct. Third, perceived management support for mentoring appears to be particularly important in predicting positive outcomes for both parties, whereas perceived mentor accountability relates to fewer reported mentoring problems among protégés, yet lower intentions to mentor among mentors. Finally, both perspectives on support for mentoring are important; protégé perceptions of mentoring support related to positive and negative mentoring experiences, and mentor perceptions of support related to perceived complementarity and future willingness to mentor. The results of Study 1 and Study 2 support Kram (1985) and others’ (e.g., Allen et al., 1997) suggestion that mentors’ and protégés’ beliefs about support for mentoring relates to important mentoring behaviors and reactions. Our findings are also consistent with the tenets of social learning theory (Bandura, 1977) and social information processing theory (Salancik & Pfeffer, 1978), which state that the social milieu can exert a powerful influence on behavior and perceptions. Both studies also support the assumption that support for mentoring is a multidimensional construct. We found support for the proposed two dimensional structure of our measure in both studies. Two other pieces of evidence further demonstrate the distinctiveness of these two constructs. First, perceived management support and accountability are differentially related to both protégé and mentor outcomes. Second, the variance shared by these two dimensions of support is moderate (18 and 36% for protégés and mentors, respectively). It is also noteworthy that the correlation between perceived management support for mentoring and perceived accountability is significantly stronger from the mentor’s perspective (r = .60) compared to the protégé’s perspective (r = .42, z = 2.20, p < .05). In light of these findings, we encourage future research to take a multidimensional perspective on support for mentoring and obtain both parties perspective. Our findings also indicate that that several other variables are associated with the protégé and mentor outcomes examined in the present study. Furthermore, in several cases the established predictors entered in set 1 explained more variance in the study criteria than did support perceptions. For protégés, other significant predictors included the personality variables of protégé extraversion, self-esteem, and negative affect, as well as the relationship variables of mentor gender, relationship phase, and relationship initiation. For mentors, other significant predictors included mentor job type, mentor gender, and the quality of previous mentorships. These findings supplement the growing literature on the predictors of protégés’ mentoring experiences and mentors’ reactions to mentoring relationships. 4.1. Implications for research and theory Several implications for research and theory emerge from our findings. Mentoring theory and research should consider mentor and protégé perceptions about the extent of support for mentoring within the organization. While Kram (1985) identifies the organization as an important element in mentoring, very little research or theory development has considered perceptions of the work environment. We encourage future research to expand upon our initial findings by considering other aspects of the context, such as physical space and proximity among organizational members, rewards and performance management systems, and broader organizational climate issues such as organizational competitiveness or learning orientation of the organization. These contextual conditions are discussed by Kram, 1985, Allen et al., 1997 and Eddy et al., 2001 but have yet to be examined as correlates of mentoring. Another area for future research is examining the extent to which more general perceptions of organizational support relate to mentoring outcomes. Our findings also make a theoretical contribution by adding to recent empirical research on negative mentoring (Eby and Allen, 2002, Eby et al., 2000, Eby et al., 2004, Feldman, 1999 and Scandura, 1998) by identifying additional predictors of relational problems between mentors and protégés. This includes the focal variable of perceived accountability for mentoring as well as mentor gender, relationship initiation, relationship phase, self-esteem, and negative affect. The different pattern of relationships between the two dimensions of support for mentoring and positive versus negative mentoring provides is also noteworthy and adds additional support to the claim that positive and negative mentoring are distinct relational experiences (Eby et al., 2004). Finally, the present study opens up the possibility of exploring levels of analysis and dyadic issues in mentoring research. While we focused on individual perceptions of support, in the spirit of research on psychological climate perceptions, support may represent a unit, department, or organization-level phenomenon (James, 1982 and James and Jones, 1974). It may also be informative to examine climate strength, or the extent to which there is within-group agreement among individuals within a collective (Schneider, Salvaggio, & Subirats, 2002), as a correlate of mentoring outcomes. Moreover, since mentoring relationships are dyadic, examining mentor-protégé agreement on perceived support as a predictor of mentoring outcomes is an obvious next step. Other avenues for future research include examining other protégé and mentor outcomes as well as identifying moderators of the perceived support-mentoring outcome relationship. For instance, the relationship between protégé perceptions of management support and mentoring received may be stronger when mentors also perceive the organization as supportive of mentoring relationships. 4.2. Implications for practice Our findings also have practical applications. Given the consistent effects for perceived management support for mentoring, top management is encouraged to publicly communicate the company’s commitment to developmental work relationships and encourage mangers to role model effective mentoring behaviors. As our findings suggest management support and role modeling appears to increase career-related mentoring for protégés and may increase psychosocial mentoring. Further, the belief that management is supportive of mentoring is associated with mentors’ reports of complementarity; as complementarity increases, so does mentors’ willingness to mentor in the future. Recommendations to increase (or decrease) mentor accountability are more difficult to make. On one hand, increased accountability reduced the likelihood that protégés reported problems with their mentors, suggesting organizations might want to take steps to foster accountability. On the other hand, as mentors perceived greater accountability for their behavior, they expressed less interest in mentoring others in the future. The negative relationship with mentor willingness to mentor, coupled with the likely low base rate of serious problems with mentors, suggests that increasing mentor accountability may backfire on organizations by turning off some potentially good mentors to mentoring. However, it is important to remember that we are measuring perceptions, and it is possible that mentor and protégé perceptions of mentor accountability are not highly correlated. Until the correlation between mentor and protégé perceptions of accountability are established any recommendations remain tentative. 4.3. Limitations and conclusions For both Study 1 and Study 2, data were collected with the single administration of a survey. This raises concern about common method variance and artificially inflated correlations among study variables. However, the magnitude of the correlations and varied pattern of effects across positive and negative mentoring argue against this. We are also unable to draw cause-and-effect inferences and rule out reverse causality. While this seems unlikely for some obtained effects (e.g., accountability is unlikely to be a consequence of mentoring received) it is possible for other effects. For instance, as more mentoring is reported by protégés, perceptions of management support for mentoring may be improved since there are more role models available. Or, mentors who report being in more mutually beneficial relationships may come to believe that management is more supportive of mentoring. Additional research using longitudinal designs is an important next step to tease apart such issues. Generalizability of our findings is also a concern given our modest response rates and use of convenience samples. Another methodological concern is that some protégés and mentors were reporting on previous mentoring relationships. This raises the possibility of retrospective recall bias. While this source of bias cannot be ruled out completely, retrospective data is not biased if the measures used are reliable and valid (Miller, Cardinal, & Glick, 1997). Other ways to help ensure the validity of retrospective data involve using knowledgeable informants, asking specific questions, not asking questions about the distant past, and motivating individuals to respond accurately by assuring confidentiality and explaining the usefulness of the research to participants (Miller et al., 1997). Since out study meets all of these conditions it is unlikely that recall bias poses a major threat to the validity of our findings. Another limitation is the relatively small number of items used to assess each dimension of organizational support for mentoring and the fact that some scale trimming was necessary to increase the fit of the measurement model. However, the modified factor structure that emerged from protégés in Study 1 generally fit well in the second sample of mentors. Moreover, in both samples, the revised two-factor model fit the data significantly better than a general one-factor model. Nonetheless, additional construct validity work is needed with our measures. While we took a multiple perspectives approach, a final limitation is that we did not examine mentor-protégé dyads. Yet, mentors and protégés may have different perceptions about the extent to which managers support mentoring relationships. Moreover, one member’s perception of support may account for unique variance in the other’s outcome. For instance, a mentor’s perception of management support for mentoring may predict protégé reports of career-related mentoring over and above the protégé’s own report of management support. Or alternatively, while we found that protégés’ reports of mentor accountability related to greater psychosocial support and less mentoring problems, mentors who feel highly accountable for their behavior may actually withhold mentoring support due concerns that their mentoring behavior is being “watched” or monitored by others in the organization. This may happen because less personal control in a situation can lead to decrements in motivation (Deci & Ryan, 2000) or because mentors may have concerns that psychosocial mentoring will be misconstrued as favoritism or inappropriate emotional connectedness with their protégés (Ragins & Cotton, 1999). Clearly, obtaining dyadic data represents an important next step for this line of research. Notwithstanding these limitations, the present study makes several contributions to mentoring theory and research. We provide an initial glimpse at how perceived support for mentoring relates to protégés’ mentoring experiences and mentors’ reports of relational complementarity and willingness to mentor. Our study also provides an initial multidimensional measure of perceived support for mentoring which can be expanded on in future research. As mentoring continues to grow in popularity among practitioners and researchers alike, understanding conditions that foster positive exchanges and minimize negative relational dynamics is increasingly important. We hope this present study serves as a platform for future research and theory on the role of perceptions of support in mentoring relationships.