Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1153-9442

Year of Publication

2017

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Business and Economics

Department

Management

First Advisor

Dr. Daniel J. Brass

Second Advisor

Dr. Giuseppe Labianca

Abstract

Research on social networks has established that those who bridge the gaps between dense social groups (i.e. structural holes) are granted a “vision advantage” compared to those who are embedded in dense groups. A common explanation for the advantage is that bridging a structural hole provides the broker with access to diverse information. What is less clear is how this process performs when the organizational context is turbulent. I propose that in a turbulent organizational context, when the organization is experiencing dramatic changes, employees benefit less from building a repertoire of diverse information and instead benefit more from adopting socially distant information. Information discussed by members of the organization which are several steps away from an employee would be more valuable in a turbulent context. Socially distant information would be more rare as people become rigid in response to threat, and it would be more relevant as local information becomes obsolete.

To explore this idea, I study the case of two large organizations undergoing a merger integration. The members of the higher-status, acquiring organization experience relative stability compared to members of the target firm, who experience a great deal more uncertainty. The higher-status firm dominated the merger, the top management of the target firm was replaced, supervisory structures are changed, employees are forced to develop new routines, learn new technologies, and had to uproot their social support networks and move across the country. This case provides an opportunity to examine how two information flow mechanisms, which mediate the relationship between broker positions and individual career benefits, are altered in the presence of organizational turbulence.

I measure information variance and the adoption of socially distant information of 612 organizational members by fitting a topic model on a dataset of email content covering a 14-month period immediately following the merger of two large consumer product firms. I test my hypotheses using a latent difference score model to test the impacts of increases in information variance, constraint, and adoption of socially distant information on increases in employee salary. I find that organizational turbulence alters the ways in which information flows provides benefits. Within turbulent contexts the pathways between access to diverse information and improved career outcomes are destroyed. Instead adopting socially distant information and information associated with power and status provides more benefits to the individual than incrementally improving a repertoire of diverse information. This study contributes to research on M&As, organizational change, and social network theory by expanding our understanding of the impact of organizational turbulence on the information mechanisms driving advantage in open networks.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/ETD.2017.413

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