Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour
Networking; Networks; Lay Theories;
Journal Article | Academy of Management Review | 43 | January 2018
Lay Theories of Networking: How Laypeople’s Beliefs about Networks Affect Their Attitudes and Engagement toward Instrumental Networking
There is growing evidence of a “knowing-doing gap” in networking: many people feel conflicted or ambivalent about engaging in instrumental networking, even while recognizing the importance of being well-connected.Here the authors turn to an important piece of the puzzle that has been undertheorized: laypeople’s beliefs about the nature of networks. Borrowing from the literature on lay theories in motivational psychology, the authors examine the effects of how laypeople construe different components of networks-individuals and their social intelligence, social relations, and social capital—as relatively fixed or malleable.The authors explain how each belief affects people’s attitudes toward both the utility and morality of networking, with consequences for their engagement in different forms of networking (searching for new ties, maintaining existing ties, and leveraging social capital). The authors also consider these beliefs’ downstream consequences for the size, diversity, and cohesiveness of networks people build.Overall, by examining the role of domain-specific beliefs and attitudes that undermine people’s motivation to network, the authors' model departs from existing views of networking based on rationality, personality, and perception to shed new light on the motivational psychology of networking.