ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2014, Vol. 46 ›› Issue (6): 852-863.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2014.00852

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A Longitudinal Study on the Impact Mechanism of Employees’ Boundary Spanning Behavior: Roles of Centrality and Collectivism

LIU Songbo;LI Yuhui   

  1. (School of Labor and Human Resources, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China)
  • Received:2012-07-25 Published:2014-06-30 Online:2014-06-30
  • Contact: LI Yuhui


Currently boundary spanning behavior is a hot topic in team research field, which involves phenomena at two levels (team level and individual level). Compared to team level, employee’s boundary spanning has not been well discussed yet. In addition, few studies have systematically explored its outcomes and impact mechanism in Chinese context. This study aimed to address the above gaps by examining whether, when and how employee’s boundary spanning behavior impacted his or her task performance. Specifically, integrating culture and social network theory into boundary spanning field, this study theorized that boundary spanning behavior led to centrality of the employee’s social network, and in turn enhance his or her task behavior. At the same time, team’s collectivism climate moderated the above path. The participants were recruited from 17 companies in two high-tech parks located in Beijing and Tianjin, China. We invited 135 team leaders and their subordinates to participate the survey, after collecting 2 wave longitudinal data sets and dropping out invalid questionnaires, responses from 61 team leaders and 292 team members were valid finally. To get enough whole network data, we purposely chose teams with small size. All measurements were (or adapted from) well-established scales. Employee’s boundary spanning behavior, centrality, and collectivism were collected at time 1, and after 8 weeks, employees’ task performance was collected at time 2. Confirmatory factor analyses showed satisfactory model fit indices. Inter-rated agreement (Rwg) and intra-class correlation (ICC) value justified the aggregation of team collectivism climate. HLM were applied to test our hypotheses since this is a cross-level research. Variables like age, education, gender, tenure and collectivism orientation at individual level, and team size at group level were controlled for. The results showed that centrality of the social network positively mediated the relation between employees’ boundary spanning behavior and his or her task performance. The climate of team collectivism positively moderated the relation between employees’ boundary spanning behavior and network centrality. In addition, network centrality mediated the interaction between boundary spanning behavior and team collectivism climate on employee’s task performance such that the relation between boundary spanning behavior and task performance via network centrality will be stronger for teams higher on collectivism climate than for those lower on collectivism. This study revealed that employee’s boundary spanning behavior had positive influence on task performance and confirmed the mechanism between the two constructs. Interestingly, we found collectivism at individual level and at team level had different effects for the effect of boundary spanning behavior, which revealed that in transformational Chinese context, cultural elements at micro levels were worthy of discussing. The finding of mediating mechanism of centrality established a logic chain of “external relationship – internal embeddedness - performance”, helping in explaining the formation of performance and social network in teams. Managerial implications, limitations and future directions were discussed at the end.

Key words: boundary spanning behavior, centrality, collectivism, task performance