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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination: Implications for Organizational Communication
Unformatted Document Text:  Evolution, Exchange and Coordination 19 unique network integration difficulties (Ibarra, 1995). Recent work by Feeley (2000), suggesting that employees most centrally positioned in an organization’s network (i.e., those involved in the vital exchange contracts and producing the greatest nonzero sum gains for the organization) are least likely to leave, can help us further understand why turnover rates in organizations are highest among minorities (e.g., Cox, 1994). These different organizational experiences might be attributed to the limited number of exchanges numerical minorities can actually have with others they are most likely to share common knowledge, interests, or pressures with. Minorities might be more likely to turn over in organizations because of the limited gains in trade opportunities that they encounter. Through close supervision, organizations monitor whether employees are fulfilling their contractual obligations at regular intervals during an employee’s tenure. In addition, performance appraisal systems are designed to give employers a chance to recalibrate the terms of their exchange relationship with their employees at regular intervals. Those who are under-performing are typically given warning that the costs of the exchange are higher than the benefits the organization is accruing. Continued underperformance typically leads to termination of the contract. However, there are again potential biases in the revisiting of exchange terms. For instance, Leader-Member Exchange theory (e.g., Dansereau, Graen, & Haga, 1975; Bauer & Green, 1996) suggests that supervisors typically evaluate in-group subordinates more favorably than out-group employees. Such biases are perhaps not unexpected, if one considers that the former are more likely to be providing supervisors with greater benefits (e.g., enhancing their prestige up the chain of command) than the latter. Ongoing experimentation with recalibration technologies like 360 ° feedback (e.g., Brett & Atwater, 2001; Pfau & Kay, 2002) reflect the current concern over accurate measurement of the employee’s fulfillment of contractual obligations. Employee’s who are found to be performing well receive reassurance that their reciprocation is proportional to the benefits they are receiving. Typically, they have their resource exchange contract revisited. Here, they might be assigned new responsibilities and granted access to greater benefits. It is no wonder that hires will go to great lengths to manipulate others’ (i.e., especially supervisors or high status coworkers) perceptions of their competency and performance. Research on role making and upward influence processes in the workplace suggests as much. For instance, organizational scholars have documented the influence strategies that subordinates typically employ (e.g., Yukl, Guinan, & Sottolano, 1995; see also Krone, 1992), and the distortion (i.e., deception) that underlies many of their exchanges with supervisors (e.g., Glauser, 1984). Not surprisingly, it would appear that subordinates are themselves most easily influenced by supervisors who themselves have upward influence, and who can thus guarantee a trajectory of access to ever-more favorable resources (e.g., Pelz, 1952). Finally, it must be said that organizations also work hard to tip the scales of the exchange in their favor whenever possible. For example, providing employees with status enhancing work tools like pagers, laptop computers, and cell

Authors: Teboul, JC. Bruno. and Cole, Tim.
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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination
19
unique network integration difficulties (Ibarra, 1995). Recent work by Feeley (2000), suggesting that
employees most centrally positioned in an organization’s network (i.e., those involved in the vital
exchange contracts and producing the greatest nonzero sum gains for the organization) are least likely to
leave, can help us further understand why turnover rates in organizations are highest among minorities
(e.g., Cox, 1994). These different organizational experiences might be attributed to the limited number of
exchanges numerical minorities can actually have with others they are most likely to share common
knowledge, interests, or pressures with. Minorities might be more likely to turn over in organizations
because of the limited gains in trade opportunities that they encounter.
Through close supervision, organizations monitor whether employees are fulfilling their
contractual obligations at regular intervals during an employee’s tenure. In addition, performance
appraisal systems are designed to give employers a chance to recalibrate the terms of their exchange
relationship with their employees at regular intervals. Those who are under-performing are typically given
warning that the costs of the exchange are higher than the benefits the organization is accruing. Continued
underperformance typically leads to termination of the contract. However, there are again potential biases
in the revisiting of exchange terms. For instance, Leader-Member Exchange theory (e.g., Dansereau,
Graen, & Haga, 1975; Bauer & Green, 1996) suggests that supervisors typically evaluate in-group
subordinates more favorably than out-group employees. Such biases are perhaps not unexpected, if one
considers that the former are more likely to be providing supervisors with greater benefits (e.g., enhancing
their prestige up the chain of command) than the latter. Ongoing experimentation with recalibration
technologies like 360
°
feedback (e.g., Brett & Atwater, 2001; Pfau & Kay, 2002) reflect the current
concern over accurate measurement of the employee’s fulfillment of contractual obligations. Employee’s
who are found to be performing well receive reassurance that their reciprocation is proportional to the
benefits they are receiving. Typically, they have their resource exchange contract revisited. Here, they
might be assigned new responsibilities and granted access to greater benefits. It is no wonder that hires
will go to great lengths to manipulate others’ (i.e., especially supervisors or high status coworkers)
perceptions of their competency and performance. Research on role making and upward influence
processes in the workplace suggests as much. For instance, organizational scholars have documented the
influence strategies that subordinates typically employ (e.g., Yukl, Guinan, & Sottolano, 1995; see also
Krone, 1992), and the distortion (i.e., deception) that underlies many of their exchanges with supervisors
(e.g., Glauser, 1984). Not surprisingly, it would appear that subordinates are themselves most easily
influenced by supervisors who themselves have upward influence, and who can thus guarantee a
trajectory of access to ever-more favorable resources (e.g., Pelz, 1952). Finally, it must be said that
organizations also work hard to tip the scales of the exchange in their favor whenever possible. For
example, providing employees with status enhancing work tools like pagers, laptop computers, and cell


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