Correlates of Networking Behavior for Managerial and Professional Employees

Networking is an important strategy for managing one’s career, but little is known about those who engage in networking behaviors. A study of 418 managers and professionals was conducted to examine the relationship of personal and job characteristics to involvement in networking. Multiple regression results showed that gender, socioeconomic background, self-esteem, extraversion, favorable attitudes toward workplace politics, organizational level, and type of position are significant predictors of involvement in networking behaviors. Implications of these results and directions for future research on networking are discussed. Networking is an important career management strategy in the era of boundaryless careers (Arthur & Rousseau, 1996; Hall, 1996; Kram, 1996; Mirvis & Hall, 1996a, 1996b; Raider & Burt, 1996). The boundaryless career is distinguished from the bounded or organizational career depicted during times of stable employment when employees tended to stay with one or two employers over the course of their work life (Arthur & Rousseau, 1996). The boundaryless career assumes a dynamic environment with individuals taking responsibility for their career futures (Arthur & Rousseau, 1996). Building social networks is crucial for those in boundaryless careers who use their networks to seek information about new job opportunities (Arthur, Inkson, & Pringle, 1999; Eby, 2001 [this issue]; Higgins, 2001 [this issue]; Raider & Burt, 1996). Involvement in networking is also related to career outcomes such as income and promotions (Burt, 1992; Gould & Penley, 1984; Luthans, Hodgetts, & Rosenkrantz, 1988; Michael & Yukl, 1993). Although the importance of networking is becoming increasingly well recognized, we know little about the attributes of those who engage in networking behaviors. Understanding the correlates of networking is critical in helping us develop more complete and accurate theories and frameworks of networking. Furthermore, understanding the correlates of networking has practical implications for organizations in their selection and training processes. For example, organizations hiring people for boundary-spanning roles where networking behaviors are important for success can screen individuals on factors related to effective networking. This research study attempts to answer recent calls in the literature (e.g., Sullivan, 1999) to explore the effects of personal attributes on the development of networks. More specifically, this study examines the relationships between personal and job characteristics of managers and professionals and their involvement in networking behaviors.

"Networking has been linked to important career outcomes (...)"

[…] Engaging in networking behaviors is one method managers and professionals can use to help proactively manage their protean careers. The limited number of studies in the scholarly literature have examined networking behaviors primarily as they relate to managerial salaries and promotion rates. For example, Gould and Penley (1984) examined the relationship between networking and salary progression for 217 male and 197 female clerical, professional, and managerial employees of a municipal bureaucracy. Networking
was measured using a two-item scale where participants indicated the extent to which they engaged in “building a network of ‘contacts’ in the organization for obtaining information about what’s happening within the organization” (p. 264) and in “building a network of friendships in the organization which can help to further your career progression” (p. 264). Gould and Penley found that networking was positively related to salary progression for managers only. Similarly, in their study of 457 managers from both public and private organizations, Luthans et al. (1988) determined that managers engaged in four types of activities: traditional management, routine communication, human resource management, and networking. Networking was defined as interacting with outsiders and socializing or politicking. Of the four types of activities, Luthans et al. found that networking had the strongest relationship with managerial success, which was operationalized using a promotion index. A study by Michael and Yukl (1993) examined networking behavior in a sample of 247 managers representing 19 companies in various industries. Networking was categorized as being either internal (interactions with others in the organization) or external (interactions with outsiders such as clients and suppliers). Both internal and external networking were shown to be related to rate of advancement in the organization, confirming the findings
of the Luthans et al. (1988) study.

Although networking has been linked to important career outcomes, little is known about those who engage in networking behaviors. Do all individuals have the same propensity to network? The purpose of this study is to examine whether personal and job characteristics are related to involvement in networking behaviors of managerial and professional employees. […]

Monica L. Forret, St. Ambrose University
Thomas W. Dougherty, University of Missouri