The Relational Antecedents of Interpersonal Helping: ‘Quantity’, ‘Quality’ or Both?

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    Abstract

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

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