ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (5): 840-853.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2023.00840

• Regular Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The concept of employee networking behavior and its influence mechanisms on working outcomes

WANG Song1, ZHANG Liaodan1, LUAN Kun2()   

  1. 1School of Management, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China
    2School of Economics and Management, China University of Petroleum (East China), Qingdao 266580, China
  • Received:2022-06-12 Online:2023-05-15 Published:2023-02-13
  • Contact: LUAN Kun


Networking behavior refers to employee’s behaviors that build, maintain, and use relationships to achieve work-related goals. Different from traditional social network research which primarily focuses on the decisive influence of network structure, research on networking behavior responds to the call of "individual agency" in the stream of social network research in recent years and holds the belief that employees can improve job performance and promote career management by taking the initiative to carry out networking behavior.
Employee networking behavior is found to be endowed with the four characteristics: 1) goal-directed in performing networking behavior, 2) selective in deciding whom to network with, 3) composed of different stages such as relationship building, maintaining and using, and 4) reciprocity in exchanging with others during the networking process. Existing studies have further examined the antecedents and outcomes of employee networking behavior. Employee networking behavior have been found to be mainly affected by a wide range of antecedents across individual, organization and environment levels. In addition, employee networking behavior also affect the employee and the organization in a variety of positive and negative ways. However, in contrast to studies on antecedents, research focusing on the outcomes of employee networking behavior is still limited, providing room for further studies, particularly of the underlying mechanisms. Hence, we introduce resources, affect, network and exchange perspectives and make efforts to identify and summarize the influencing mechanisms of employee networking behavior.
Based on resources and affect perspectives, previous studies have mostly focused on the outcomes of employees networking behavior. In addition to these two well-researched perspectives, we suggest to adopt network and exchange perspectives to depict the mechanisms in depth. According to the network perspective and the social network theory, networking behavior is likely to make an impact on the employee and the organization through changing employees’ network structures and assisting them in making use of the resources endowed by the positions they occupied. The exchange perspective introduces the dyadic relationship between "actor" and "partner" into the networking behavior research, breaking through the limitation that prior research solely considered the role of "actor". By doing so, the networking behavior research can enrich the analysis of moderating variables and deepen the conversation about the impact of networking behavior.
Finally, considering the limitations of existing research on employee networking behavior, six future research directions that merit attention are proposed: 1) extending the examination of the negative impacts of employee networking behavior base on resources and affect perspectives and providing further research support for effective networking behavior management; 2) analyzing the dynamic relationship between employee networking behavior and social network and uncovering the mechanisms through which networking behavior takes effect based on network perspective; 3) expanding the research towards boundary conditions of the employee networking behavior based on exchange perspective; 4) integrating different theoretical perspectives to deepen the employee networking behavior research; 5) taking root in new contexts such as the enterprise social media platform to explore the characteristics and possible unique effects of online networking behavior; 6) adopting new methods to broaden the methods for measuring and researching employee networking behavior; for example, using unstructured data like texts and images to develop objective networking behavior measures, or introducing simulation methods like Agent-Based Modeling to explore how networking behavior affects both employees and their teams or organizations.

Key words: networking behavior, individual agency, social network, conservation of resources theory, affective events theory

CLC Number: