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Networking Behavior and Organizational Commitment

May 2014


Networking. It's a lot more than looking for a job. It's about relationships - both where you work and beyond. Research by Dr. Shelly McCallum, a 2008 graduate of the DBA Program at St. Ambrose, has shown that networking behavior is associated with organizational commitment. However, the impact varies depending on the type of networking and the type of commitment.

Affective commitment is about wanting to stay with an organization. It is about genuine affection for an employer and working to further the goals of the organization. Continuance commitment is what happens when people feel they have to stay with an employer. Sometimes the benefits of staying outweigh the costs of leaving. Sometimes we feel we ought to remain with an employer. Researchers call this normative commitment. At times it might be a sense of moral obligation to remain, or perhaps a sense of indebtedness to stay in order to repay favors owed to work colleagues.

Dr. McCallum's study, with 335 managers and professionals in a health system, demonstrated that networking behavior focused within a workplace was positively related with both affective commitment and normative commitment. Why? Perhaps people who network this way develop better relationships with colleagues they can call on for work-related assistance or social support if needed. Having trusted coworkers improves their attachment to the organization as well as their desire to reciprocate when others seek their help.

In contrast, networking with people outside of work was negatively related to normative commitment. Perhaps the relationships with professional peers puts workplace obligation into a different context. Networking, either at work or outside of work, was not related with continuance commitment, meaning they are no more or less likely to feel they have to stay.

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