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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination: Implications for Organizational Communication
Unformatted Document Text:  Evolution, Exchange and Coordination 15 risk behavior, trade union politics and career development (Nicholson, 1997b); and, the glass ceiling and wage gap (Browne, 1998). Organizational communication scholarship has yet to capitalize upon this perspective’s insights into human nature and consequent behavior. As we shall see next, it has every reason to engage this body of knowledge. Weighing the Evidence On face validity Examples of reciprocation, of its derivatives and of exchange coordination abound in organizational life. That we collaborate with people at work with whom we share similar interests and who can ultimately help us accomplish our tasks and get ahead should hardly come as a revelation. Also, all us have experienced being turned off from working with coworkers or supervisors with whom the costs of coordinating exchanges clearly outweigh any of the potential benefits that might be accrued. And, we all closely monitor our interactions with exchange partners (e.g., for the detection of ‘free-loading’), as well as their own interactions with others, for any cues that might suggest a threat to resource flow (e.g., due to a visible realignment of coalitional structures) and a need to recalibrate our social contracts. Small talk, likely plays an important role in this regard as it grants partners a sense of relational normalcy. Further, we are all keenly aware of our own IOUs, and when both short and long term benefits of reciprocation outweigh the costs, we keenly fulfill others’ expectations. After all, our reputations are at stake, and defection can entail loss of prestige and jeopardize future choice social contracts with others around us. Of course, the greater our prestige in a work group, the less concerned we are with an occasional infraction. We actually go to great lengths in organizations to conflate our prestige relative to others. We certainly compete through hard work, trying to raise our value and promise for future beneficial resource exchanges with role set members, but we also often act to appear more knowledgeable than we really are. When ‘pulled off’ effectively, impression management is, after all, an efficient ‘short cut’ for social ascension. Naturally, others are engaged in the same routines, and so it pays in the long run to be able to differentiate between those who are ‘for real’ and those who are just ‘smoke and mirrors’ or ‘all talk.’ On the other hand, we are all very familiar with the moves others (i.e., usually undesirable exchange partners) deftly make to ‘cozy’ up to powers-that-be in order to accrue benefits by proxy. Of course, our closest associates and we would never stoop to such practices. Invariably, we move to formally or informally (i.e., depending upon costs and benefits) denounce all impropriety in organizations (as long as it runs counter to our own interests). And, finally, we all recognize that coalition formation around common interest is a fact of life in organizations, we are witness to its shifting dynamics, and often look on in amazement at the strange bedfellows such interests bring together.

Authors: Teboul, JC. Bruno. and Cole, Tim.
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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination
15
risk behavior, trade union politics and career development (Nicholson, 1997b); and, the glass ceiling and
wage gap (Browne, 1998).
Organizational communication scholarship has yet to capitalize upon this perspective’s insights
into human nature and consequent behavior. As we shall see next, it has every reason to engage this body
of knowledge.
Weighing the Evidence
On
face
validity
Examples of reciprocation, of its derivatives and of exchange coordination abound in
organizational life. That we collaborate with people at work with whom we share similar interests and
who can ultimately help us accomplish our tasks and get ahead should hardly come as a revelation. Also,
all us have experienced being turned off from working with coworkers or supervisors with whom the
costs of coordinating exchanges clearly outweigh any of the potential benefits that might be accrued. And,
we all closely monitor our interactions with exchange partners (e.g., for the detection of ‘free-loading’),
as well as their own interactions with others, for any cues that might suggest a threat to resource flow
(e.g., due to a visible realignment of coalitional structures) and a need to recalibrate our social contracts.
Small talk, likely plays an important role in this regard as it grants partners a sense of relational normalcy.
Further, we are all keenly aware of our own IOUs, and when both short and long term benefits of
reciprocation outweigh the costs, we keenly fulfill others’ expectations. After all, our reputations are at
stake, and defection can entail loss of prestige and jeopardize future choice social contracts with others
around us. Of course, the greater our prestige in a work group, the less concerned we are with an
occasional infraction. We actually go to great lengths in organizations to conflate our prestige relative to
others. We certainly compete through hard work, trying to raise our value and promise for future
beneficial resource exchanges with role set members, but we also often act to appear more knowledgeable
than we really are. When ‘pulled off’ effectively, impression management is, after all, an efficient ‘short
cut’ for social ascension. Naturally, others are engaged in the same routines, and so it pays in the long run
to be able to differentiate between those who are ‘for real’ and those who are just ‘smoke and mirrors’ or
‘all talk.’ On the other hand, we are all very familiar with the moves others (i.e., usually undesirable
exchange partners) deftly make to ‘cozy’ up to powers-that-be in order to accrue benefits by proxy. Of
course, our closest associates and we would never stoop to such practices. Invariably, we move to
formally or informally (i.e., depending upon costs and benefits) denounce all impropriety in organizations
(as long as it runs counter to our own interests). And, finally, we all recognize that coalition formation
around common interest is a fact of life in organizations, we are witness to its shifting dynamics, and
often look on in amazement at the strange bedfellows such interests bring together.


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