Untangling the Networking Phenomenon: A Dynamic Psychological Perspective on How and Why People Network


Compared to the extensive research that has investigated the structures of social relationships (i.e., social networks), relatively little research attention has been geared towards understanding how and why individuals initiate, build, and maintain social networks (i.e., networking) from a psychological perspective. The objective of this review is to shed light on the dynamic, psychological processes at the center of individuals’ discretionary, professional relationship development. The diffuse networking literature in the field of management is reviewed and organized into four primary research streams. On the basis of insights from this review, we propose a dynamic, psychological model of how and why individuals strategically network, which marries social exchange and expectancy theories with the concept of relational schema to explain the networking phenomenon across dyadic and intraindividual levels. This conceptual model posits that a networking interaction, construed as an exchange of resources within a given network relationship at a certain stage of relationship maturity, affects the relational schemas of those involved in the interaction and that each networking partner’s relational schema influences each partner’s perceptions of his or her network relationship and guides individual decisions to network with a specific network contact. The aim of this review is to lay a theoretical foundation for investigating strategic networking from a dynamic, psychological perspective.

Publication Title

Journal of Management