Year of Publication

2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Business and Economics

Department

Management

First Advisor

Dr. Giuseppe Labianca

Abstract

Previous research has suggested that individuals differ in their accuracy of perceptions of the social environment, and some research suggests that powerful individuals in particular tend to be lazy, disinterested observers of the social world. A handful of field studies and lab experiments linking power with individuals’ perceptions of others’ social networks have generally supported this view. However, recent theory addressing the psychological consequences of power for the power-holder claim that in certain circumstances and for some kinds of social information, power is linked to increased accuracy of social information. This dissertation tests this idea by drawing on social network theory and the situated focus theory of power. I examine the relationship between individuals’ formal power and their perceptual accuracy of social network relationships. I propose that individuals’ perceptual accuracy is affected by 1) their formal power in the organization 2) the type of relationship being perceived (expressive/instrumental, positive/negative), and 3) the dependence relationship with the target of perception (whether the perceiver is dependent on the perceived to get their work done). Predictions were tested using cognitive social network data collected from a call center within a division of a large corporation in the US. Results showed that formal power was linked to increased accuracy for some relationship content (particularly negative expressive relationships), and managers tend to be more accurate when perceiving their own incoming relationships than non-managers.

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