Turnover during a corporate merger: How workplace network adaptation influences staying
The upheaval created by a merger can precipitate voluntary employee turnover, causing merging organizations to lose valuable knowledge-based resources and competencies precisely when they are needed most to achieve the merger’s integration goals. While prior research has shown that employees’ connections to coworkers reduces their likelihood of leaving, we know little about how personal social networks should change to increase the likelihood of staying through the disruptive post-merger integration period. In a pre-post study of social network change, we investigate over fifteen million email communications between employees within two large merging consumer goods firms over two years. We use insights from network activation theory to posit and find that employees with high formal power (rank) and high informal status (indegree centrality) react to the merger’s general uncertainty and threat by developing new social connections in a manner indicative of a network widening response: reaching out and connecting with those in the counterpart legacy organization. We also investigate whether increased personally-felt threat in the form of merger-related job insecurity strengthens these relationships, finding it does in the case of high formal power. We also find that employees increasing their cross-legacy social connections is key in reducing those employees’ turnover after a merger. Our study suggests that network activation theory can be extended to explain network changes and not simply network cognition.
With Theresa Floyd, Neha Shah, Josh Marineau, Wookje Sung, Travis Grosser, Jesse Fagan, & Joe (Giuseppe) Labianca
Whether, How, and Why Networks Influence Men’s and Women’s Career Success: Review and Research Agenda
Substantial research has documented challenges women experience building and benefiting from networks to achieve career success. Yet fundamental questions remain regarding which aspects of men’s and women’s networks differ and how differences impact their careers. To spur future research to address these questions, we present an integrative framework to clarify how and why gender and networks—in concert—may explain career inequality. We delineate two distinct, complementary explanations: (1) unequal network characteristics (UNC) asserts that men and women have different network characteristics, which account for differences in career success; (2) unequal network returns (UNR) asserts that even when men and women have the same network characteristics, they yield different degrees of career success. Further, we explain why UNC and UNR emerge by identifying mechanisms related to professional contexts, actors, and contacts. Using this framework, we review evidence of UNC and UNR for specific network characteristics. We found that men’s and women’s networks are similar in structure (i.e., size, openness, closeness, contacts’ average and structural status) but differ in composition (i.e., proportion of men, same-gender, and kin contacts). Many differences mattered for career success. We identified evidence of UNC only (same-gender contacts), UNR only (actors’ and contacts’ network openness, contacts’ relative status), neither UNC nor UNR (size), and both UNC and UNR (proportion of men contacts). Based on these initial findings, we offer guidance to organizations aiming to address inequality resulting from gender differences in network creation and utilization, and we present a research agenda for scholars to advance these efforts.
With Kristin Cullen-Lester, Caitlin Porter & Kate Frear
A Sociopolitical Perspective on Employee Innovativeness and Job Performance: The Role of Political Skill and Network Structure
We adopt a sociopolitical perspective to examine how an employee’s political skill works in conjunction with social network structure to relate to the employee’s innovation involvement and job performance. We find that employee innovation involvement mediates the relationship between political skill and job performance and that the number of structural holes employees have in their social network strengthens the positive relationship between political skill and employee innovation involvement. Hypotheses were tested in a large microprocessor manufacturing firm using a sample of 113 employees responsible for generating technological innovations in support of the development of computer microchips. The results of a constructive replication study among medical professionals provide substantial support for our model. This study’s contribution is in showing that political skill both leads to innovation involvement and enables employees to take advantage of the innovation-enhancing potential of certain social network positions.
With Travis Grosser, David Obstfeld, Emily Choi, Virginie Lopez-Kidwell, Joe (Giuseppe) Labianca & Steve Borgatti
Organization Science, 2018
Employees’ Responses to an Organizational Mergers: Intraindividual Change in Organizational Identification, Attachment, and Turnover.
The authors used pre-post merger data from 599 employees experiencing a major corporate merger to compare 3 conceptual models based on the logic of social identity theory (SIT) and exchange theory to explain employees’ merger responses. At issue is how perceived change in employees’ own jobs and roles (i.e., personal valence) and perceived change in their organization’s status and merger appropriateness (i.e., organizational valence) affect their changing organizational identification, attachment attitudes, and voluntary turnover. The first model suggests that organizational identification and organizational attachment develop independently and have distinct antecedents. The second model posits that organizational identification mediates the relationships between change in organizational and personal valence and change in attachment and turnover. The third model posits that change in personal valence moderates the relationship between changes in organizational valence and in organizational identification and attachment. Using latent difference score (LDS) modeling in an SEM framework and survival analysis, the results suggest an emergent fourth model that integrates the first and second models: Although change in organizational identification during the merger mediates the relationship between change in personal status and organizational valence and change in attachment, there is a direct and unmediated relationship between change in personal valence and attachment. This integrated model has implications for M&A theory and practice.
With Wookje Sung, Jesse Fagan, Theresa Floyd, Travis Grosser, & Joe (Giuseppe) Labianca
Journal of Applied Psychology, 2017
Finalist for the Outstanding Publication in Organizational Behavior award given by the OB Division of the Academy of Management
Press Coverage: ThriveGlobal.com
Networks in Education & Leadership Development
An Investigation of Professional Networks and Scholarly Productivity of Early Career Physical Therapy Faculty
Physical therapy (PT) faculty must retain a scholarly agenda. However, active engagement and dissemination are challenging, especially for new faculty. Prior research suggests that faculty’s professional networks can improve their performance and innovation. The aim of this study was to determine an effective network structure and composition for scholarly activity of early career PT faculty. The results show evidence that a more open, less interconnected (i.e., low density) network are associated with higher scholarly activity when controlling for the duration as a faculty member and whether the individual has an academic doctoral degree. Key implications from this study include 1) faculty can be productive in their first 5 years regardless of their institution’s Carnegie Classification, days on the job, and achievement of an academic doctoral degree; 2) an effective network for scholarly productivity is one that is open and less densely interconnected; and 3) there are practical strategies faculty and their mentors can take to make networks more effective.
With Betsy Becker, Harlan Sayles, Tony Rost & Gilbert Willett
Journal of Physical Therapy Education, 2019
Winner of the Stanford Award given by the Academy of Physical Therapy Education for “having presented the most influential ideas for Physical Therapy Education in 2019”
Network-based Leadership Development: A Guiding Framework and Resources for Management Educators
Management education and leadership development has traditionally focused on improving human capital (i.e., knowledge, skills, and abilities). Social capital, networks, and networking skills have received less attention. When this content has been incorporated into learning and development experiences, it has often been more ad hoc and has overlooked how gender affects individuals’ ability to build and use networks effectively. To address these limitations, we present a three-step framework designed to guide management educators in helping others to (1) address misconceptions they have about networks and networking, (2) learn whether their current network is effective, and (3) identify networking strategies they can use to change their network and improve its effectiveness. In each stage, we discuss challenges that both men and women face and identify challenges that are particularly salient for women. Beyond providing this framework as a guide for incorporating networks, networking, and social capital into leadership development, we offer resources management educators can use at each step to create positive learning and development experiences. Finally, we discuss specific considerations for implementing network-based leadership development in women’s only and mixed gender courses and leadership development programs.
With Kristin Cullen-Lester & Phil Willburn
Journal of Management Education, 2016