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Having a large network of colleagues means having several opportunities to help those colleagues, as well as a higher chance of receiving requests for help from them. Employees with large networks are therefore expected to help more in the workplace than those with small networks. However, large networks are also associated with cognitive costs, which may reduce the focal employee's ability to both recognize the need for help and engage in helping behaviours. For these reasons, the authors assert an inverted U-shaped relation between the size of an ego's social network and engagement in helping behaviour. However, high-quality relationships imply higher mutual understanding between the actors, and hence lower cognitive costs. In turn, the position (and threshold) of the curve between network size and interpersonal helping should be influenced by the quality of the relationship between the provider and the beneficiaries of help. Analysis of employee-level, single-firm data supports these ideas, providing preliminary evidence that quality of relationship compensates for the difficulties that may arise from having large social networks.

Publication information

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Volume28
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)197-212
Number of pages16
ISSN1045-3172
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2017

ID: 45429115