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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination: Implications for Organizational Communication
Unformatted Document Text:  Evolution, Exchange and Coordination 17 Current scholarship reframed: The employee-organization exchange contract Reciprocal exchanges are ubiquitous throughout organizations. It is from the interdependencies that they generate that organizations are able to realize the nonzero sum gains that allow for system survival (e.g., Senge, 1990; see also Katz & Kahn, 1978). For all employees though, exchange activity begins once contact is first made with the organization’s representatives. Organizational anticipatory socialization (Jablin, 1994; 2001) is of critical importance for employee and organization alike. During this period, both parties seek to secure the best possible terms in their exchange contract agreements. The organization, through exchange coordination technologies like job ads and job descriptions, employment screening interviews and determinate interviews, works to recruit the most qualified applicants (i.e., those most likely to fulfill a set of necessary task-related expectations) to help it realize its mission. It does this through its personnel selection system representatives, who are themselves fulfilling their end of a contractual agreement with the organization (i.e., reciprocating). In attempting to draw the best though, recruiters often affect prospective employees valency (i.e., perceived attractiveness of the job) and expectancy perceptions (i.e., perceived likelihood of receiving a job offer) (Turban & Dougherty, 1992; Wanous, 1992). In turn, during this early contact period, employees also work hard to develop favorable exchange terms with the organization’s representatives. Specifically, adequate compensation and the opportunity for upward mobility (i.e., for access to ever more favorable resources) are the employee’s ultimate goals in the exchange equation. To maximize the odds that these might be realized, recruits often simulate proximity with the recruiter through the deployment of nonverbal tactics stressing immediacy (e.g., eye contact, body posture) and through the instantiation of self-enhancing promotional strategies. Impression management moves (e.g., Goffman, 1959) appear to reassure recruits’ exchange partners that their profiles fit the organization’s needs, as recruiters promptly reward those who engage in such practices with positive evaluations (e.g., Forbes & Jackson, 1980; Keenan, 1976; Stevens & Kristof, 1995). During the early negotiation of resource exchange terms between employee and organization then, it would seem that both parties can over-inflate their position for the realization of greater personal positive gains. This can bring negative consequences to both, in the form of perceived defection or “cheating.” From the vantage point of the organization, an employee who, once hired, cannot perform according to promise, is violating his or her end of the exchange contract. A call for termination of the exchange relationship is not uncalled for under such circumstances. On the other hand, such an event can call into question the fulfillment of other contracts within the organization (i.e., who wasn’t doing his or her job?) or calls into question whether exchange coordination mechanisms need to be recalibrated (i.e., do we need to reevaluate our file and interview screening processes?). From the vantage point of the individual, a work environment that does not meet initial expectations loses its appeal. It is, after all, not

Authors: Teboul, JC. Bruno. and Cole, Tim.
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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination
17
Current scholarship reframed: The employee-organization exchange contract
Reciprocal exchanges are ubiquitous throughout organizations. It is from the interdependencies
that they generate that organizations are able to realize the nonzero sum gains that allow for system
survival (e.g., Senge, 1990; see also Katz & Kahn, 1978). For all employees though, exchange activity
begins once contact is first made with the organization’s representatives. Organizational anticipatory
socialization (Jablin, 1994; 2001) is of critical importance for employee and organization alike. During
this period, both parties seek to secure the best possible terms in their exchange contract agreements. The
organization, through exchange coordination technologies like job ads and job descriptions, employment
screening interviews and determinate interviews, works to recruit the most qualified applicants (i.e., those
most likely to fulfill a set of necessary task-related expectations) to help it realize its mission. It does this
through its personnel selection system representatives, who are themselves fulfilling their end of a
contractual agreement with the organization (i.e., reciprocating). In attempting to draw the best though,
recruiters often affect prospective employees valency (i.e., perceived attractiveness of the job) and
expectancy perceptions (i.e., perceived likelihood of receiving a job offer) (Turban & Dougherty, 1992;
Wanous, 1992). In turn, during this early contact period, employees also work hard to develop favorable
exchange terms with the organization’s representatives. Specifically, adequate compensation and the
opportunity for upward mobility (i.e., for access to ever more favorable resources) are the employee’s
ultimate goals in the exchange equation. To maximize the odds that these might be realized, recruits often
simulate proximity with the recruiter through the deployment of nonverbal tactics stressing immediacy
(e.g., eye contact, body posture) and through the instantiation of self-enhancing promotional strategies.
Impression management moves (e.g., Goffman, 1959) appear to reassure recruits’ exchange partners that
their profiles fit the organization’s needs, as recruiters promptly reward those who engage in such
practices with positive evaluations (e.g., Forbes & Jackson, 1980; Keenan, 1976; Stevens & Kristof,
1995).
During the early negotiation of resource exchange terms between employee and organization
then, it would seem that both parties can over-inflate their position for the realization of greater personal
positive gains. This can bring negative consequences to both, in the form of perceived defection or
“cheating.” From the vantage point of the organization, an employee who, once hired, cannot perform
according to promise, is violating his or her end of the exchange contract. A call for termination of the
exchange relationship is not uncalled for under such circumstances. On the other hand, such an event can
call into question the fulfillment of other contracts within the organization (i.e., who wasn’t doing his or
her job?) or calls into question whether exchange coordination mechanisms need to be recalibrated (i.e.,
do we need to reevaluate our file and interview screening processes?). From the vantage point of the
individual, a work environment that does not meet initial expectations loses its appeal. It is, after all, not


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