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Today's professionals require a network of mentors to help them navigate complex organizational and individual challenges. Consistent with current trends, a growing number of these mentor relationships will be initiated and carried out electronically, via e-mentoring. We build on existing social network research to investigate the role of e-mentoring in protege outcomes. On a sample of graduate and undergraduate students, we examine the impact of dyad characteristics (e.g., interaction frequency, pre-existing relationship, perceived similarity, relevant mentor knowledge) on e-mentoring received as well as the impact of e-mentoring on proteges' learning and satisfaction. Several dyad characteristics and e-mentoring functions received were positively associated with proteges' learning and satisfaction. Limitations and implications for future research are offered.
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DOI: 10.1177/1059601113511296
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Article
The Role of E-Mentoring
in Protégés’ Learning
and Satisfaction
Suzanne C. de Janasz1
and Veronica M. Godshalk2
Abstract
Today’s professionals require a network of mentors to help them navigate
complex organizational and individual challenges. Consistent with current
trends, a growing number of these mentor relationships will be initiated
and carried out electronically, via e-mentoring. We build on existing social
network research to investigate the role of e-mentoring in protégé outcomes.
On a sample of graduate and undergraduate students, we examine the impact
of dyad characteristics (e.g., interaction frequency, pre-existing relationship,
perceived similarity, relevant mentor knowledge) on e-mentoring received
as well as the impact of e-mentoring on protégés’ learning and satisfaction.
Several dyad characteristics and e-mentoring functions received were
positively associated with protégés’ learning and satisfaction. Limitations and
implications for future research are offered.
Keywords
e-mentoring, learning, satisfaction
E-mentoring, the process of using computer-mediated communication
(CMC) technology as the primary means of communication between mentors
and protégés, has become widely used. CMC—that is, the internet, e-mail,
1IMD, Lausanne, Switzerland
2Penn State University Brandywine, Media, USA
Corresponding Author:
Suzanne C. de Janasz, IMD, Chemin de Bellerive 23, Lausanne 1001, Switzerland.
Email: Suzanne.dejanasz@imd.ch
XXX10.1177/1059601113511296Group & Organization Managementde Janasz and Godshalk
research-article2013
2 Group & Organization Management XX(X)
instant messaging, and related technologies—has changed the way we com-
municate. World-wide Internet users currently exceed two billion (665%
growth since 2000), and among the 348.3 million North Americans, more
than 78% communicate online and over 49% are Facebook users (Internet
World Stats, 2012). Given the growing number of CMC users and a business
climate characterized by layoffs, worker mobility, boundaryless careers, and
increased work demands, use of electronic means to expand one’s network of
developmental relationships is not only tenable but also critical for career
success (de Janasz, Sullivan, & Whiting, 2003; Dobrow, Chandler, Murphy,
& Kram, 2012; Higgins & Kram, 2001; Sproull & Kiesler, 1999).
Social network theory suggests that developmental relationships are nec-
essary as the context of mentoring becomes more turbulent and career actors
are more apt to draw on a variety of sources for support in their career
(Dobrow et al., 2012; Higgins, Chandler, & Kram, 2007). Ensher and Murphy
(2007) suggest that e-mentoring can boost the likelihood of initiating devel-
opmental relationships by increasing accessibility of mentors, equalizing
salient differences of partners, and decreasing emphasis on demographics
(e.g., race, age) identified through face-to-face meetings. Based on this
framework, the purpose of this study is to gauge the effects of e-mentoring on
protégés’ learning outcomes using a sample of graduate and undergraduate
students who seek e-mentors and experience e-mentoring episodes (Fletcher
& Ragins, 2007) or developmental interactions during a semester.
E-mentoring is an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship whereby a
more experienced partner transmits mentoring functions via electronic means
to a less experienced partner (Ensher & Murphy, 2007; Godshalk, 2007).
Contrasted with traditional mentoring, e-mentoring involves far less real
face-time between mentor and protégé (Hamilton & Scandura, 2003). Despite
this difference, there is growing anecdotal and empirical evidence suggesting
that the benefits of e-mentoring compare favorably with those derived from
traditional mentoring (e.g., de Janasz, Ensher, & Heun, 2008; MentorNet,
2002, 2003; Simmonds & Lupi, 2010). The functions received in e-mentor-
ing relationships parallel those found in traditional relationships and include
career development (coaching, sponsoring, increasing exposure and visibil-
ity, and offering protection), psychosocial support (offering acceptance and
confirmation, providing counseling and friendship), and role modeling
(Kram, 1985; Ragins & Kram, 2007; Scandura, 1992). E-mentors have been
found to offer career development and psychosocial support as effectively as
face-to-face mentors, although they are not as effective in providing role
modeling (Hamilton & Scandura, 2003).
An important outcome of traditional mentoring is the protégé learning
potential. Protégés report that the expectation of learning is a key factor in
de Janasz and Godshalk 3
their involvement in formal mentoring programs (Allen & O’Brien, 2006;
Eby & Lockwood, 2005). However, informal mentoring relationships are
found to be more apt in providing for protégé learning and goal attainment
than formal relationships (Godshalk & Sosik, 2003; Ragins, Cotton, & Miller,
2000; Wanberg, Welsh, & Hezlett, 2003). Learning occurs when a mentor
guides the protégé in setting and achieving developmental goals (Lankau &
Scandura, 2002). Mentors serve as role models, encourage protégés to
become involved in learning (Allen, Russell, & Maetzke, 1997), and offer
feedback to help protégés attain their goals (Godshalk & Sosik, 2003;
Megginson, 1988; Scandura, 1992). Mentors report that they are attracted to
protégés who have a learning orientation and to relationships that are focused
on providing learning opportunities (Allen, Poteet, & Burroughs, 1997). Not
surprisingly, protégés who had a high learning goal orientation reported
greater amounts of mentoring functions received (Godshalk & Sosik, 2003).
In addition, protégés’ learning benefits have been found to include tactical
career advice as well as enhanced academic performance, professional net-
work, and job opportunities (de Janasz et al., 2008; MentorNet, 2002; Miller,
1999).
Protégé job and career satisfaction has also been linked with mentoring
(Allen, Eby, Poteet, Lentz, & Lima, 2004; Baugh & Scandura, 1999; Singh,
Ragins, & Tharenou, 2009). Protégé satisfaction is in part determined by the
amount of constructive feedback received and frequency of interactions with
the mentor (Lyons & Oppler, 2004). In sum, past research suggests a positive
relationship between mentoring received and protégé learning and satisfac-
tion. This study builds on the above noted literature by empirically investi-
gating the relationship between dyad characteristics, e-mentoring functions
received, and protégés’ learning and satisfaction.
Dyad Characteristics and E-Mentoring
Koberg, Boss, and Goodman (1998) offered a mentoring model suggesting
that dyad characteristics may affect mentoring functions received and
learning outcomes. Wanberg et al. (2003) expanded on Koberg et al.’s
model, adding mentor and protégé characteristics, such as knowledge and
skills, demographics, frequency of interaction, and experience in mentoring
relationships. Drawing on these models, this research posits that dyad fac-
tors will affect e-mentoring functions received and associated learning out-
comes. The choice of these variables is rooted in myriad literatures, most
particularly social network theory (Dobrow et al., 2012; Higgins et al.,
2007) and CMC theory (J. R. Carlson & Zmud, 1999; Walther, 1996). Kram
(1985) noted that individuals seek mentors who have similar values about
4 Group & Organization Management XX(X)
work and learning as well as those who are competent. Walther (1996)
noted that in CMC environments, when individuals exchange information,
build impressions, compare values, and provide timely feedback for each
other, highly interpersonal relationships may develop. Finally, frequency of
interaction and the existence of a previous relationship are dyad factors that
have been examined previously (Allen, Poteet, et al., 1997; Lyons & Oppler,
2004; van Emmerik, 2004a).
This study’s definition of e-mentoring builds on definitions offered by
Godshalk (2007) and Ensher and Murphy (2007). An e-mentor provides a
career development function, whereby he or she promotes professional
growth by providing challenging assignments, exposure, visibility, and pro-
tection via CMC interactions. The e-mentor also fulfills a psychosocial
function, such that she or he promotes personal growth by providing emo-
tional support, counseling, acceptance, and guidance. Finally, the e-mentor
offers role modeling functions through which the protégé identifies with and
emulates the e-mentor, who is trusted and respected, possesses expert and
referent power, and holds high standards (de Janasz et al., 2008; Gibson &
Cordova, 1999; Thibodeaux & Lowe, 1996). Even though they are not wit-
nessed first-hand, behaviors and experiences shared by a trusted e-mentor
and related via electronic exchanges provide models for protégé consider-
ation (MentorNet, 2002). These relationships are modeled in Figure 1. The
following sections will develop the study’s hypotheses. First, the relation-
ships between the antecedent dyad factors and e-mentoring functions
received are examined and relevant hypotheses developed. Then, hypothe-
ses are proffered related to the relationships between e-mentoring and
Dyad Antecedents
Enhanced skill self-efficacy
Increased course
concept application
Learning via e-mentoring
Satisfaction with e-
mentoring relationship
Career development
Psychosocial
support
Role modeling
Interaction frequency
Comfort with CMC
relationship
Relevant mentor
knowledge
Perceived similarity
Pre-existing relationship
Learning and Satisfaction E-mentoring Received
Figure 1. Dyad relationship antecedents on e-mentoring received and protégé
learning and satisfaction.
de Janasz and Godshalk 5
protégé learning and satisfaction outcomes. This study is unique and makes
a strong contribution to the literature since the CMC theories are integrated
with the social network and mentoring literature, helping us understand the
impact of e-mentoring on protégés. Finally, the study’s limitations and
implications will be discussed.
Interaction Frequency
Koberg et al. (1998) characterize mentoring as an exchange between mentor
and protégé, wherein characteristics of the interaction affect its processes and
outcomes. The frequency of interaction between mentor and protégé has been
previously analyzed (Allen, Poteet, et al., 1997; Burke, McKeen, & McKenna,
1993; de Janasz et al., 2008; Grant-Vallone & Ensher, 2000; van Emmerik,
2004a; Waters, McCabe, Kiellerup, & Kiellerup, 2002). Allen, Poteet, et al.
(1997) found a positive relationship between amount of interaction and satis-
faction with the mentoring experience. Several studies (de Janasz et al., 2008;
Eby et al., 2013; Grant-Vallone & Ensher, 2000) found frequent interaction to
be positively associated with instrumental and psychosocial support received
by protégés. Frequent interaction has been found to be related to both mentor
and protégé perceptions of success and protégé intrinsic job satisfaction (van
Emmerik, 2004a; Waters et al., 2002). Finally, interaction frequency has been
found to mediate e-mentoring program antecedents and self-efficacy out-
comes (DiRenzo, Linnehan, Shao, & Rosenberg, 2010).
The CMC literature also posits that frequency of interaction between elec-
tronic partners will build and enhance the relationship (Walther, 1996).
Online community studies have found that CMC environments enable par-
ticipants to obtain social support through frequent interaction with each other
and finding common interests (Rheingold, 1993; Wellman & Gulia, 1999).
Moreover, since online communities are based more on shared interests than
on visual cues that can lead to bias and stereotypes, these participants dis-
close more quickly and readily, thereby building the trust critical for effective
mentoring or learning relationships (Mooradian, Renzl, & Matzler, 2006;
Sproull & Kiesler, 1999; Turkle, 1995; Wellman & Gulia, 1999). As
Berscheid, Snyder, and Omoto (1989, p. 794) reasoned, “the more time peo-
ple spend together, the more opportunity they have to influence each other’s
thoughts and behaviors.” Based on these findings, it is expected,
Hypothesis 1: Interaction frequency will be positively associated with
e-mentoring functions received; that is, protégés who report spending
more time interacting with the mentor will also report greater mentoring
functions received.
6 Group & Organization Management XX(X)
Pre-Existing Relationship
Wanberg et al. (2003) examined characteristics that mentors and protégés
bring to the relationship and that impact the intimacy achieved within the
dyad. Intimacy is facilitated through acknowledgment of complementary
skills each partner brings and a pre-existing relationship often improves and
advances the relationship (Kelley et al., 1983). Given experience, history, and
time associated with building a relationship, a pre-existing relationship
allows for continued sharing, building trust and intimacy (Hinde, 1995). This
pre-existing relationship results in partners disclosing more personal infor-
mation, including divulging mistakes, and engaging in more meaningful dia-
logue (Wanberg et al., 2003). Therefore, dyad members who have previously
known each other are apt to build stronger relationships than those who begin
the e-mentoring process with individuals they know less well.
Hypothesis 2: A pre-existing relationship will be positively associated
with e-mentoring functions received; that is, protégés who report previ-
ously knowing their e-mentor will also report greater e-mentoring func-
tions received.
Perceived Similarity
Koberg et al. (1998) suggest individual differences affect traditional mentor-
ing relationships. As mentoring relationships mature, demographic similarity
becomes less important and deep-level similarity regarding attitudes, values,
and goals becomes more important (Eby et al., 2013; Ensher, Grant-Vallone,
& Marelich, 2002; Lankau & Scandura, 2002; Turban, Dougherty, & Lee,
2002). When investigating e-mentoring relationships, de Janasz et al. (2008)
found perceived similarity to be positively related to e-mentoring functions
and relationship satisfaction, while actual demographic similarity was unre-
lated. These researchers suggest that “the use of electronic means to establish
mentoring relationships reduces the salience of observable differences in
favor of value similarity even in new, early stage relationships” (de Janasz et
al., 2008, p. 406). Walther (1996) also notes that CMC relationships often
originate and persist due to the closeness of values and ideas, rather than
demographic similarity. For these reasons, it is expected,
Hypothesis 3: Perceived similarity will be positively associated with
e-mentoring functions received; that is, protégés who report greater per-
ceived similarity with their mentor will also report greater e-mentoring
functions received.
de Janasz and Godshalk 7
Relevant Mentor Knowledge
Mentor characteristics affect mentoring functions provided (Ensher &
Murphy, 1997; Koberg et al., 1998). Not surprisingly, protégés seek mentors
with enhanced abilities, knowledge, interpersonal skills, power, organiza-
tional rank, and respect (Gaskill, 1991; Olian, Carroll, Giannantonio, &
Feren, 1988). When complementary skill sets exist between mentor and pro-
tégé, mentoring relationships thrive (Wanberg et al., 2003).
Therefore, we developed a construct, relevant mentor knowledge, to assess
the protégé’s perception of how the mentor’s skill set complements the pro-
tégé’s learning needs. Protégés often enter into mentoring relationships
because they expect to learn from them (Godshalk & Sosik, 2003). It is
expected that when protégés perceive their mentors as having knowledge that
will guide their career toward success, protégés will be receptive to and ben-
efit from the psychosocial, career development, and role modeling support
offered through these relationships. Therefore,
Hypothesis 4: E-mentor knowledge relevance will be positively associ-
ated with e-mentoring functions received; that is, protégés who report
greater e-mentor knowledge relevance will also report greater e-mentor-
ing functions received.
Protégé Comfort With Establishing a CMC Relationship
This study follows Walther’s (1992) relationship development theory and J.
R. Carlson and Zmud’s (1999) channel expansion theory, which emphasize
the user’s knowledge and experience base—rather than the technology
itself—as allowing the individual to participate in increasingly rich CMC
interactions. When dyad members are comfortable with CMC technology,
they reach out and develop relationships characterized by a richness and
depth of content that compares with face-to-face relationships, despite the
absence of nonverbal cues. CMC users may invoke knowledge-building
experiences—that is, previous experience with technology, discussion topic,
organizational context, or dyad co-participant—to establish their relationship
(J. R. Carlson & Zmud, 1999). Walther (1996) suggests that when users have
time to exchange information, build impressions, compare values, and pro-
vide timely feedback, CMC allows for highly interpersonal relationships to
develop. Other researchers have found that extensive use of e-mail reduces
anxieties associated with the technology and allows for relationships to be
built (R. E. Carlson & Wright, 1993; Fuller, Vician, & Brown, 2006;
McDowell, 1998). Therefore, it is expected that
8 Group & Organization Management XX(X)
Hypothesis 5: Comfort with establishing CMC relationships will be posi-
tively associated with e-mentoring functions received; that is, protégés
who report greater comfort with CMC relationships will also report greater
e-mentoring functions received.
Relationship Between E-Mentoring and Protégé
Outcomes
Among mentoring relationship outcomes studied, protégé learning and
satisfaction are key (Wanberg et al., 2003). Several studies have investi-
gated the learning outcomes protégés accrue in traditional relationships
(Allen & O’Brien, 2006; Eby & Lockwood, 2005; Godshalk & Sosik,
2003; Ragins et al., 2000; Scandura, 1992). Other studies, focusing on
online relationship, suggest that learning and satisfaction result from the
active involvement of students via technology-mediated interactions with
highly skilled business executives (Alavi, Wheeler, & Valacich, 1995;
Alavi, Yoo, & Vogel, 1997; Arbaugh, 2005; Arbaugh & Benbunan-Fich,
2006; Fuller et al., 2006).
In light of Alavi and Leidner’s (2001) suggestion that researchers should
consider the psychological processes that impact learning, this study focuses
on three specific learning variables—skill efficacy, increased course applica-
tion, and learning via e-mentoring—as well as relationship satisfaction, as
relevant variables for analyzing the cognitive and affective outcomes associ-
ated with e-mentoring. These variables, grounded in the literature, were spe-
cially developed for this purpose.
Skill Self-Efficacy
Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief that he or she can successfully
perform a specific task or activity (Bandura, 1986). Individuals with high
self-efficacy have been found to outperform lower self-efficacious individu-
als on several learning and performance outcomes (Bandura & Cervone,
1986; Ford, Smith, Weissbein, Gully, & Salas, 1998; Schunk, 1991). In the
mentoring literature, Day and Allen (2002) found career development sup-
port to be positively associated with self-efficacy. Deakins, Graham, Sullivan,
and Whittam (1998) found that e-mentors enhanced protégés’ ability to
achieve. Lewis (2002) found protégés reported improved self-confidence and
were more motivated to learn after interactions with their e-mentor. Taken
together, these findings suggest that e-mentoring enhances protégés’ skill
self-efficacy.
de Janasz and Godshalk 9
Increased Course Concept Application
Learning occurs not only vicariously but also through mastery (Bandura,
1986). Researchers found that students learn best by mastering experiential
learning exercises that integrate course concepts, critical thinking, and prob-
lem solving and that using e-mail had a positive effect on learning (Fuller et
al., 2006). Studies demonstrate that interacting with a mentor or classmate
can increase protégés’ ability to assimilate course-related knowledge and that
use of e-mail to facilitate course content discussions resulted in a higher level
of mastery than that obtained by students participating in traditional class-
room discussions (Gremler, Hoffman, Keaveney, & Wright, 2000;
Taechamaneestit, 2000). Hezlett (2005) found that protégés learn primarily
through explanations from and interactions with their mentors. Lankau and
Scandura (2002) found personal learning to be associated with mentoring
functions received. Through cumulative interactions with mentors, protégés
have the opportunity to transform knowledge into higher level learning such
as comprehension and application (Bloom, 1984). Reading how management
theories play out in the workplace and engaging in follow-on e-mail-based
conversations with their e-mentor facilitates protégés’ learning either vicari-
ously or through their own mastery (Whiting & de Janasz, 2004). This learn-
ing can be measured by students reporting increased course concept
application after interactions with the e-mentor. It is expected that e-mentor-
ing will be positively associated with increased course concept application.
Learning via E-Mentoring
Individuals who are motivated to learn are more apt to participate in develop-
ment programs like e-mentoring (Allen & O’Brien, 2006; Birdi, Allan, & Warr,
1997). When participating in such programs, individuals receive mentoring
functions and are encouraged to learn new skills, develop competencies, and
master skills. Protégés paired with e-mentors have been found to gain job-
related and discipline-specific information (Single & Muller, 2001; Single &
Single, 2005). Given that asynchronous learning environments have been
found to be as effective as face-to-face collaborations (Ocker & Yaverbaum,
1999), it is expected that protégés will report increased learning as a result of
interactions with e-mentors. We therefore include learning via e-mentoring as
an outcome to assess work-related learning accrued from interactions with the
e-mentor. The following relationship is therefore expected:
Hypothesis 6: E-mentoring functions received will be positively associated
with protégé learning; that is, protégés who report greater e-mentoring
10 Group & Organization Management XX(X)
functions received will report enhanced skill self-efficacy, increased course
concept application, and greater learning via e-mentoring.
Satisfaction With E-Mentoring Relationship
Studies of traditional mentoring relationships demonstrate that both career
development and psychosocial support are positively related to quality of and
satisfaction with the relationship (Ensher et al., 2002; Godshalk & Sosik,
2000; Ragins et al., 2000; van Emmerik, 2004a). Wanberg et al.’s (2003)
review of mentoring research describes a positive link between satisfaction
with mentor and protégé job satisfaction, career satisfaction, life satisfaction,
and career commitment. Other researchers have found that satisfaction is an
outcome of distance learning relationships (Alavi & Gallupe, 2003; Arbaugh,
2000, 2005). Based on these findings, we expect that e-mentoring relation-
ships will result in protégé satisfaction:
Hypothesis 7: E-mentoring functions received will be positively associ-
ated with protégé satisfaction; that is, protégés who report greater e-men-
toring functions received will report increased satisfaction with the
e-mentoring relationship.
Method
The sample consists of 228 undergraduate/graduate respondents (58.8% and
41.2%, respectively) from three mid-sized universities on the East and West
coasts who participated in an online mentoring assignment as part of the
requirements of one of their business school courses. For the assignment,
each student had to identify a practicing manager (ideally with 10 or more
years of experience, 10 or more direct reports, and budgetary responsibili-
ties), request and obtain his or her commitment (via e-mail) to participate in
an electronic mentoring relationship, and correspond electronically (via
e-mail) on course-related concepts of greatest interest to the student over the
entire semester. One key goal of this assignment was to augment class materi-
als and discussions by facilitating electronic discussions between the student
and a practicing manager (see Whiting & de Janasz, 2004, for a complete
description). By developing and asking their mentors questions (e.g., We
learned that empowering subordinates has both risks and rewards. What is
your view? Please share an example or two that demonstrates this view.),
students were able to acquire personally relevant and valuable information
about how course concepts (e.g., human resources, leadership, international
management) played out in the workplace; how such concepts were impacted
de Janasz and Godshalk 11
by contextual factors (e.g., company size, industry, background of the men-
tor); and how course-related skills and abilities affected managers’ personal
and professional success. Most mentors provided specific, detailed answers
to students’ questions, including many personal examples, and remained
open to follow-up questions and continued contact beyond the assignment’s
required interactions.1 Finally, the students submitted their completed assign-
ment, consisting of their questions, the mentor’s answers, and an analysis and
critique of the mentor’s answers. All received satisfactory grades. Near the
end of the course (which was 7 [graduate] or 15 [undergraduate] weeks in
length), students were asked to complete a questionnaire based on their
e-mentoring experience and were offered course or extra credit for doing so.
Of the total 292 students enrolled, 228 completed the questionnaire, yielding
a response rate of 78.1%. The students/protégés who responded were not
significantly different from the total population and were primarily male
(57.5%), single (77%), and 24.1 years old (SD = 6.8). The 228 students/pro-
tégés were 71.8% Caucasian, 12.3% Asian, 5.7% Hispanic, 5.3% African
American, and 4.9% all other categories; 60.3% were employed at least part-
time while engaged in their studies.
Measures
To more closely examine e-mentoring and its outcomes, we utilized both
existing and newly created variables. Intercorrelations among the variables
used in the study are included in Table 1.
E-mentoring received. We used Scandura’s (1992) mentoring functions (a total
of 13 items comprising three functions), modifying the language to reflect
electronic as opposed to traditional relationship functions and the academic
context. For most items, we changed the word mentor to e-mentor. In addi-
tion, because of the academic context and outcomes under study, we added or
modified a few items to increase the relevance for respondents who had not
yet entered or were not currently in the workforce. For example, we added the
item “I often communicate with my e-mentor on topics that are unrelated to
school” to psychosocial support. For the career development item, “My
e-mentor provides coaching on performing effectively in work-related situa-
tions,” we inserted “academic or” before “work-related situations.” Finally,
we took our cue from de Janasz et al. (2008) in allowing for the possibility
that role modeling may occur in a virtual relationship. We believe that men-
tors’ storytelling in response to protégés’ questions such as “please tell me
about a time when” or “please tell me about your path to your current posi-
tion, including key challenges faced and how you overcame them,” can
12
Table 1. Correlations Among Study Variables.
Gender
Graduate = 1,
UG = 2
Same gender
(M/P) = 0,
different = 1
Same
ethnicity
(M/P) = 0,
different = 1
Perceived
similarity
Relevant
mentor
knowledge
Comfort
with CMC
relationship
Interaction
frequency
Pre-existing
relationship
with mentor
Career
development
Psychosocial
support
Role
modeling
Learning
through
e-mentoring
Increased
course
concept
application
Increased
skill self-
efficacy
Level
(1 = graduate,
2 = UG)
.024
M/P gender
(0 = same,
1 = different)
.281*** −.035
3 M/P ethnicity (0
= same,
1 = different)
.078 .086 .043
Perceived similarity .099 .004 .010 −.186**
Relevant mentor
knowledge
.206** .097 −.039 −.081 .357***
Comfort
with CMC
relationship
.202** .335*** .006 .012 .134* .219**
Interaction
frequency (total
hours per
month)
−.028 −.139* −.104 −.069 .174** .066 .060
Pre-existing
relationship with
mentor
.054 −.008 .009 −.345*** .362*** .199** −.165* .162*
Career
development
−.021 .038 −.038 −.082 .496*** .312*** .180** .272*** .237***
Psychosocial
support
.091 −.055 −.017 −.155* .521*** .298*** .087 .289*** .294*** .709***
Role modeling .157* .037 −.062 −.109 .574*** .467*** .084 .188** .384*** .556*** .590***
Learning through
e-mentoring
.131* .015 −.068 −.045 .377*** .694*** .360*** .150* .101 .455*** .389*** .480***
Increased course
concept
application
.113 −.018 −.005 −.038 .269*** .544*** .340*** −.020 .081 .274*** .299*** .376*** .649***
Increased skill self-
efficacy
.146* .006 .015 −.039 .367*** .383*** .443*** .220** .052 .533*** .480*** .393*** .636*** .480***
Satisfaction with
mentoring
relationship
.096 −.101 −.055 −.189** .530*** .579*** .195** .217** .224** .548*** .630*** .587*** .613*** .525*** .551***
Note. M/P = mentor/protégé; CMC = computer-mediated communication.
*Correlation significant at p < .05 (two-tailed). **Correlation significant at p < .01 (two-tailed). ***Correlation significant at p < .001 (two-tailed).
de Janasz and Godshalk 13
provide powerful examples of behavior that could be emulated. Whether
these stories are relayed over a face-to-face lunch meeting or by e-mail, our
belief, supported by protégés’ critiques, is that such interactions form the
basis for role modeling.
The five-item career development function (e.g., My e-mentor provides
advice on career progress) had a mean value of 3.53 (SD = 0.86) and an inter-
nal consistency reliability of .85. Psychosocial support was measured with
five items (e.g., My e-mentor provides support and encouragement). We
obtained a mean value of 3.61 (SD = 0.93) and an internal consistency reli-
ability of .89 for this variable. Three items assessed role modeling (e.g., I try
to model my behavior after my e-mentor); the mean, standard deviation, and
reliability were 3.92, 0.68, and .68, respectively.
Protégé satisfaction and learning. Protégés’ overall satisfaction with the e-men-
toring relationship was assessed using five slightly modified items from
Young and Perrewé (2000; for example, Overall, I am satisfied with my
e-mentoring relationship). The overall mean of this measure was 4.10 (SD =
0.75) and the reliability was .90. Three protégé learning variables were con-
structed and confirmed via factor analysis for this study. All items (see the
appendix) were measured using five-point Likert scales. Learning through
e-mentoring was assessed with 6 items; the mean was 3.97 (SD = 0.65) and
reliability was .87. Increased course concept application comprised three
items; the mean was 3.99 (SD = 0.67) and reliability was .80. Finally,
enhanced skill efficacy was measured with three items; the mean was 3.68
(SD = 0.77) and reliability was .81.
Dyad characteristics. The dyad characteristics utilized in the study included
interaction frequency, pre-existing relationship with mentor, perceived men-
tor/protégé similarity, perceived relevance of mentor knowledge, and com-
fort with CMC relationship. Protégés indicated how much time they typically
interacted with their mentor using electronic means. This figure ranged from
under 1 hr to over 40 hr per month with a mean of 6.0 hr. A majority of pro-
tégés already knew their mentor prior to initiating the e-mentoring relation-
ship (62.3% did vs. 37.7% who did not). Students were barred from using
family members as their mentor.
Perceived similarity was measured using a modified six-item scale previ-
ously used by Ensher and her colleagues (2002). The mean, standard devia-
tion, and reliability of this measure were 3.67, 0.85, and .83, respectively.
Two additional individual variables created for this study were assessed using
five-point Likert scales. Perceived relevance of e-mentor knowledge was
assessed using three items (e.g., My e-mentor demonstrated that he or she is
14 Group & Organization Management XX(X)
current in the topics we discussed.); the mean was 4.28 (SD = 0.58) and reli-
ability was .79. Comfort with a CMC relationship consisted of five items
(e.g., Using e-mail to communicate with my e-mentor has enabled me to
overcome any concerns I might have in approaching a stranger to ask for help
or guidance); the mean was 3.28 (SD = 0.85) and reliability was .82.
Finally, we included several control variables. In addition to gender, we
also included course level of the protégé (undergraduate and graduate). This
control was important for two reasons. First, we expected that the graduate
students (many of whom were full-time employees) would likely have a dif-
ferent sense of the importance of mentoring than the traditionally aged under-
graduate students. Second, the graduate courses were shorter (7 vs. 15 weeks);
with greater time comes the possibility for increased interaction and mentor-
ing received.
Given the issues associated with cross-gender and cross-ethnic pairs (e.g.,
Ragins & McFarlin, 1990), we included two variables that represent demo-
graphic similarity of the mentor/protégé pair. Mentor/protégé gender was cre-
ated as a dichotomous variable; 66.5% of the respondents were in same-gender
pairs. The same type of variable was created for mentor/protégé ethnicity.
Most of the protégés reported that they knew the ethnicity of their mentor
(11% reported that they did not). Among those who did, 69.5% of the respon-
dents were in same-ethnicity pairs.
Results
Table 1 displays the correlations among the study variables. Our slightly
modified versions of Scandura’s three mentoring function measures shared
strong positive intercorrelations, ranging from .56 to .71. A similar trend was
apparent in the intercorrelations among the three learning outcomes created
expressly for this study; these correlations ranged from .48 to .65.
Table 2 displays the regression results from the three models used to test
the first five hypotheses. Each of the e-mentoring functions was regressed on
the control variables, then the dyad characteristics. Hypothesis 1 was par-
tially supported. Interaction frequency was positively related to career devel-
opment and psychosocial support (βs were .176 and .190 [p < .01],
respectively), but not role modeling. Hypothesis 2 also received partial sup-
port. A previous relationship between protégé and e-mentor was positively
associated with the role modeling function (β = .177, p < .01).
Table 2 also shows that perceived similarity is positively related to e-men-
toring functions received, supporting Hypothesis 3, and is significantly
related to all three mentoring functions with p < .001. The beta coefficients
for career development, psychosocial support, and role modeling were .390,
de Janasz and Godshalk 15
Table 2. Hierarchical Regression: E-Mentoring Functions as Dependent Variables
(Standardized Beta Coefficients Shown).
Career
development ΔR2
Psychosocial
support ΔR2
Role
modeling ΔR2
Controls
Gender −.118 .010 .037 .040 .077 .053
Level (1 = graduate,
2 = undergraduate)
.009 −.041 .022
M/P gender similarity
(0 = same, 1 =
different)
.016 .000 −.069
M/P ethnic similarity
(0 = same, 1 =
different)
.047 −.031 .050
Dyad variables
Frequency of
interaction
.176** .313*** .190** .296*** .075 .393***
Prior relationship
with mentor (0 =
no, 1 = yes)
.076 .074 .177**
Perceived M/P
similarity
.390*** .411*** .407***
Perceived relevance
of mentor
knowledge
.143* .107 .266***
Comfort with CMC
relationship
.121 .019 −.027
Overall R2 of model .323 .335 .446
F-statistic 11.453*** 12.112*** 19.359***
Note. M/P = mentor/protégé; CMC = computer mediated communication.
*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.
.411, and .407, respectively. Hypothesis 4 received partial support. Protégés’
perception of the relevance of their e-mentor’s knowledge was positively
associated with the career development and role modeling functions; the beta
coefficient for career development was .143 (p < .05) and for role modeling
it was .266 (p < .001). Hypothesis 5 was not supported. Protégé comfort with
establishing and carrying out a relationship via CMC was not related to any
of the three e-mentoring functions.
Table 3 displays the output from four hierarchical regressions. Each of the
three learning outcomes and satisfaction with the mentor relationship were
regressed on the control variables, dyad characteristic variables, and e-men-
toring received. Hypothesis 6 received partial support. Career development
16
Table 3. Hierarchical Regression: E-Protégé Learning and Satisfaction as Dependent Variables.
Learning
through
e-mentoring ΔR2
Increased
course concept
application ΔR2
Increased
skill self-
efficacy ΔR2
Satisfaction with
e-mentoring
relationship ΔR2
Controls
Gender −.034 .032 −.080 .018 .020 .025 −.035 .065**
Level (1 = graduate, 2 =
undergraduate)
−.129** −.183** −.129* −.149**
M/P gender similarity (0 = same,
1 = different)
−.026 .023 .029 −.006
M/P ethnic similarity (0 = same,
1 = different)
.023 .033 .016 −.077
Dyad variables
Frequency of interaction .014 .529*** −.143* .365*** .054 .345*** .016 .440***
Prior relationship w/mentor (0 = no,
1 = yes)
−.062 .001 −.068 −.078
Perceived M/P similarity .015 −.028 .033 .131*
Perceived relevance of mentor
knowledge
.550*** .425*** .154** .359***
Comfort with CMC relationship .236*** .322*** .362*** .099*
Mentoring received
Career development .169* .040*** −.041 .029* .270*** .112*** .061 .119***
Psychosocial support .018 .133 .166* .313***
Role modeling .121 .158* .041 .144*
Overall R2 of model .601 .412 .482 .624
F-statistic 26.787*** 12.458*** 16.538*** 29.451***
Note. M/P = mentor/protégé; CMC = computer-mediated communication.
de Janasz and Godshalk 17
was positively associated with enhanced learning (β = .169, p < .05) and
increased skill efficacy (β = .270, p < .001). Psychosocial support was posi-
tively related to increased skill efficacy (β = .166, p < .05). Role modeling
was positively related to increased course concept application (β = .158, p <
.05). Hypothesis 7 also received partial support. E-mentor relationship satis-
faction was positively related to the psychosocial support and role modeling
functions. The beta coefficients were .313 (p < .001) and .144 (p < .05),
respectively.
Discussion
The goal of the study was to build on and extend traditional mentoring
research to investigate relationships among dyad characteristics and various
outcomes when the medium of exchange is virtual or electronic. We pre-
sumed that, as in traditional mentoring relationships, protégés would learn
and benefit even without meeting or communicating with their mentor face-
to-face. Some of the variables tested suggested that the medium of communi-
cation was not a factor. As with traditional mentoring, the more frequently
protégés interacted with their e-mentor, the greater the amount of mentoring
functions received. Specifically, the greater the interaction frequency, the
greater the career development (career-relevant advice and information) and
psychosocial support (emotional support and acceptance) received by the
protégé. However, and given that our respondents’ mentor relationships
occurred almost exclusively via e-mail, interaction frequency was not associ-
ated with role modeling. Perhaps it is difficult to model one’s behavior after
an e-mentor, particularly since many respondents (almost 38%) had not pre-
viously met with the e-mentor. A future study might examine the degree to
which protégés recognize and utilize the role modeling of mentors who (a)
started face-to-face and transitioned to virtual due to job changes, (b) started
and remained virtual, and (c) started virtual and transitioned to face-to-face.
Increasing career mobility makes job and geographic changes likely, so
understanding when, how, and in what combination communication modes
impact mentoring outcomes is important. It would also be interesting to
examine whether individual differences in abstract versus concrete thinking
or learning style (e.g., auditory, visual) would moderate this relationship.
Protégés who are more abstract thinkers or who learn best by reading might
be more able to consider their e-mentor as a role model than those who are
more concrete thinkers or visual learners.
Although role modeling was not associated with interaction frequency, it
was positively associated with the pre-existing relationship between mentor
and protégé, as predicted. Protégés who knew their e-mentor prior to the start
18 Group & Organization Management XX(X)
of their online relationship presumably chose the individual as a mentor
because they had seen him or her in past interactions and considered him or
her worth emulating. Prior role modeling may have continued virtually
through the mentor’s storytelling in response to the protégé’s questions. The
non-significant relationship between a pre-existing relationship with the
e-mentor and career development or psychosocial support may suggest that
such benefits are not contingent on prior, face-to-face interactions and per-
haps that the pre-existing relationships were not of a mentoring nature. Taken
together, these findings support those obtained from large-scale e-mentoring
programs such as MentorNet and may help explain how a protégé separated
by geographic and time constraints from his or her mentor may still receive
the intended benefits of mentoring (e.g., de Janasz et al., 2003).
Perhaps one of the more thought-provoking findings is that perceived
similarity was positively associated with the receipt of all three e-mentoring
functions, while demographic similarity was not. First, mirroring research by
Ensher and her colleagues (de Janasz et al., 2008; Ensher et al., 2002), our
findings suggest that protégés who perceive that their mentor has similar atti-
tudes, values, and goals are more likely to trust their mentor and the informa-
tion he or she conveys. For example, a protégé struggling to maintain a
balance between work and family life will be likely to heed the personal and
professional advice or behavioral example of a mentor who values both
domains and successfully manages work–life conflicts.
Second, following the work of Walther (1996), the findings suggest that
CMC relationships work because of the similarity of values more than actual
demographic similarities. E-mentoring operates much like informal mentor-
ing relationships, wherein value similarity facilitates the trust that is slower to
form in formal face-to-face mentor relationships. E-mentoring reduces nega-
tive effects associated with traditional mentoring’s face-to-face medium,
which is hindered by visual cues and stereotyping (Sproull & Kiessler, 1999;
Turkle, 1995). In this study, because protégés selected their mentor and
62.3% had pre-existing relationships, value similarity might be higher than it
would likely be in a formal mentoring program where matches are deter-
mined by a third party, such as a human resources representative. Paralleling
research on virtual teams (Martins, Gilson, & Maynard, 2004), it may be that
once trust is established, communication effectiveness and information shar-
ing in e-mentoring will equal that of traditional relationships (Alge, Wiethoff,
& Klein, 2003). These results regarding perceived similarity and e-mentoring
received support previous findings.
Protégés’ perception of the relevance of their e-mentor’s knowledge was
positively related to the career development and role modeling functions, and
this finding may unveil an important new piece in the mentoring puzzle. While
de Janasz and Godshalk 19
past research suggests the importance of complementary skill sets between
mentor and protégé (e.g., Wanberg et al., 2003), our newly developed con-
struct explained a significant amount of variance in the receipt of career devel-
opment and role modeling. One explanation arises out of formal mentoring
programs, in which mentor and protégé are matched without significant regard
to personal or professional preferences. A protégé paired with someone viewed
as out of touch will likely give little credence to the mentor’s advice or behav-
ioral modeling. By contrast, when a mentor’s knowledge and experience are
perceived as relevant to and complementary with a protégé’s particular learn-
ing needs, the protégé is more likely to accept and value such mentoring
(Allen, Poteet, et al., 1997). Taken together, these findings suggest that formal
mentoring programs need to focus on the salience of matching processes that
are not based only on personalities but also on discipline knowledge, skill sets,
and needs so that mentors offer relevant knowledge. In fact, recent develop-
ments in the practice of e-mentoring suggest that this type of matching is
effectively occurring. In 2003, Intel launched an automated mentoring website
for its 100,000 worldwide employees. According to the program developer
and manager, Kevin Gazzara, employees can log on to an internal website and
enter up to three career interests or skills they want to develop. They then
receive a list of possible mentors throughout the company; no mentor photos
are supplied, despite the potential ease of doing so. Protégés select two or
three mentors whose profiles match their needs and e-mails are generated
inviting the mentors to participate (Owens, 2006). A similar practice is used at
global accounting firm KPMG. Manny Fernandez, an audit partner-in-charge
and e-mentoring program participant, notes that the matching process has
been positive. “It has resulted in higher employee satisfaction, lower turnover
and professionals who are better aligned with the organization and feel part of
the team” (Owens, 2006, p. 106).
The prediction that comfort with the CMC relationship would be posi-
tively related to e-mentoring received was unsupported. We expected that
CMC comfort would increase the ability of protégés—particularly tradition-
ally aged undergraduates—to learn from their e-mentor because of the ease
with which they initiated and communicated throughout the e-mentoring
relationships. However, given the ubiquity of electronic communication in
the contemporary environment, this construct may no longer be relevant for
employees who have grown up in the age of the internet.
As a key purpose of mentoring is to facilitate protégé learning and devel-
opment, we were not surprised that our analysis showed e-mentoring func-
tions received predicted three different types of learning. These results were
particularly satisfying given that these learning variables were tested on stu-
dents who participated in an e-mentoring relationship over one semester, a
20 Group & Organization Management XX(X)
short duration for a mentoring relationship. Specifically, we found that
respondents reported increases in their skills/capabilities and confidence that
resulted from the career development and psychosocial support received
from their e-mentor (enhanced skill self-efficacy). By engaging in conversa-
tions with their e-mentor about business concepts and their importance in the
workplace, protégés were able not only to enhance their skill set but also their
confidence in using these skills. Our findings also demonstrate that role mod-
eling was positively related to protégés’ ability to apply course-related topics
to the business environment. Quite often, students/protégés’ questions were
framed to elicit actual experiences (e.g., “Tell me about a time you faced an
ethical dilemma . . . what happened and how did you handle it . . .?”). Mentors’
responses provide a concrete model—extending well beyond textbook defi-
nition—for protégés to emulate and apply in future situations. Our finding
supports the use of e-mentoring to enhance student learning (Whiting & de
Janasz, 2004) and reinforces the importance of e-mentoring to facilitate
knowledge acquisition and application. Finally, respondents reported
enhanced academic learning as a result of career development support and
advice received from interactions with their e-mentor. This empirical support
provides evidence that the use of e-mentoring in business environments can
help protégés recognize and bridge knowledge gaps, as anecdotal reports
suggest (e.g., Owens, 2006).
Finally, we found that the psychosocial support and role modeling that
their e-mentor provided directly and positively affected protégés’ overall sat-
isfaction with the e-mentoring relationship. If the mentor was judged as a
credible role model and was able to provide the protégé with experiences
from which the protégé could learn, then she or he would be satisfied that the
relationship met this expectation (Godshalk & Sosik, 2000). The positive link
between psychosocial support and relationship satisfaction was as expected
and reinforced similar findings (Ensher et al., 2002). Protégés who felt that
their mentor was a confidant and provided support without judgment viewed
the relationship as positive and satisfying. The fact that the career develop-
ment function was unrelated to satisfaction may be due to students’ expecta-
tions at the start of their e-mentoring relationship, which was a course
assignment as opposed to a formal program within a protégé’s organization.
Students’ first priority was to complete a project, not necessarily to experi-
ence career growth. Also, students might not have taken the opportunity to
discuss future career directions with their e-mentor or it could be that experi-
ence in the workplace provides a more solid foundation for appreciating the
role of mentoring in learning and career development. The findings that pro-
tégé learning and satisfaction were predicted—though not consistently—by
de Janasz and Godshalk 21
the receipt of mentoring functions holds much promise for the practice and
study of e-mentoring.
Implications
This study builds on traditional mentoring research and provides an empirical
examination of how mentoring can be successful in a virtual setting. Although
limited in scope, this study represents a step forward in understanding the
positive impact of e-mentoring on protégé learning and satisfaction. Using a
model that specified dyad characteristics of the relationship, the e-mentoring
functions received, and learning and satisfaction, we were able to explain
between 41% and 62% of the variation in learning and satisfaction. Even
when protégé and mentor do not meet face-to-face, benefits similar to those
of traditional mentoring accrue.
Taken together, our findings suggest that e-mentoring is a viable alterna-
tive or complement to other developmental relationships. The finding that
perceived similarity (i.e., values and attitudes) affects the receipt of e-men-
toring, whereas demographic similarity does not, provides hope for any group
that has been shown to be disadvantaged in face-to-face mentoring situations.
Past research shows that women and minorities tend to face great barriers
in—and have a great need for—developing effective mentoring relationships
in the workplace (Linehan & Walsh, 1999; Ragins et al., 2000). Furthermore,
given the increasing career mobility of employees and the ubiquity of the
internet and other electronic means for communicating, our study suggests
that e-mentoring represents a viable means to expand a protégé’s develop-
mental network. More mentors are preferable to fewer (Higgins, 2000; van
Emmerik, 2004b), and a more diverse constellation, using both virtual and
traditional communication means, is also desirable (de Janasz et al., 2003).
One implication of this finding is that e-mentoring may provide a bridge to
learning and development in cases when personality attributes or geographi-
cal distance may preclude the initiation of developmental relationships. In
their study of networking behaviors, Forret and Dougherty (2001) found that
self-esteem and extraversion were significantly correlated with proactive net-
working behaviors—of which mentoring is a typical one. Employees whose
shyness or low self-esteem predisposes them not to initiate a developmental
relationship face-to-face might find doing so online more comfortable. Over
time, and as comfort with the interactions increases, the protégé might choose
to meet with the mentor face-to-face, which might also enhance the potential
for role modeling. In addition, should one partner in a face-to-face develop-
mental dyad have to move to a new geographic location, the relationship need
not end. On the contrary, our findings suggest that knowing one’s mentor
22 Group & Organization Management XX(X)
before engaging in a virtual developmental relationship may enhance the role
modeling received. Future research should explore more fully how virtual
and face-to-face interactions affect protégé learning and development to bet-
ter understand the individual and cumulative effects of the type, frequency,
and order of interaction mode on e-mentoring effectiveness.
The use of electronic means to establish and carry out effective learning
and mentoring relationships is advantageous for several reasons. Protégés in
this study selected their mentor and asked her or him very specific questions
to learn and build on course-related concepts and knowledge. Motivation to
learn is a necessary condition for adult learning (Knowles, 1973) and since
protégés asked questions as their learning needs arose, protégés were more
likely to assimilate and retain this new knowledge received from the mentor.
Similar results have been reported in several companies using e-mentoring
programs (e.g., Francis, 2007). By deciding what development areas to work
on and finding mentors with relevant knowledge, employees at a financial
service company were able to tap into the skills and experiences of the com-
pany’s 13,000 employees scattered across the U.S. (Francis, 2007). In pro-
grams like these, the mentoring match choices were made by the employee,
not HR. When adults are able to control the e-mentoring process, from selec-
tion of mentor to interaction content and frequency, they are able to meet
their need to be independent and self-directed in the learning process
(Simmonds & Lupi, 2010). In a survey by Triple Creek that examined men-
toring participants in five organizations, 82% of respondents agreed that
web-based mentoring gave them control over how they engaged in their rela-
tionships (Francis, 2007). This control influenced their motivation and their
comfort in pursuing additional mentoring relationships. As noted by a senior
HR executive: “Once people understand this new vision of mentoring, they
can discover how to leverage development opportunities that exist all around
them” (Francis, 2007, p. 56). Whether arranged through their company or
their own efforts, employees have many simple and painless ways to connect
with potential e-mentors who possess compatible values and complementary
skill sets to facilitate their learning and career development.
Limitations and Suggestions for Future Research
One limitation centers on the reliance on self-reporting for the study. Although
this approach is not uncommon in studies of mentoring, it does allow for the
possibility of common method variance. However, there are at least three
reasons why we believe common method variance is not an issue in this
study. First, we have two predictor variables that are objectively verifiable—
frequency of interaction and prior relationship with mentor—which, despite
de Janasz and Godshalk 23
being self-reported, are relatively objective variables. Second, we ran a
Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) on all the items included in the study
(Harman’s single-factor test) and found that as one variable, they only
accounted for 31.6% of the variance, suggesting (Common Method Variance)
CMV is not a factor (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Lee, & Podsakoff, 2003).
Finally, we re-ran one of the regression analyses (with increased course con-
cept application as the dependent variable) with a marker variable (hierarchi-
cal level of the mentor); the model had a slightly lower F-value (11.579) than
the model that did not include it.
Because our sample consisted of graduate/undergraduate students, gener-
alizing the findings to full-time professionals in all professions is another
limitation. While over 60% of our respondents were employed at the time
they participated in an e-mentoring relationship, not all were full-time nor in
career-oriented positions, limiting our ability to demonstrate that the increased
skill development and learning reported would translate into applicable
workplace benefits. Future field studies in a variety of employment settings
should replicate and expand on these findings. For example, e-mentoring
may be more readily received and effective in technology-rich (or global)
organizations than in low-technology environments. Future research might
also examine the influence of relevant personality variables such as extraver-
sion and learning style, as they might further explain comfort with and learn-
ing through CMC relationships.
Finally, we recognize that relationship duration may be a limitation. That
these students worked on the e-mentoring project in courses that ranged from
7 to 15 weeks in duration is different from more traditional relationships that
range from a few months to many years (Kram, 1985). However, these find-
ings provide support that learning occurs in e-mentoring relationships even
within short timeframes, reinforcing recent mentoring literature that suggests
that individuals can receive development from a range of mentoring relation-
ships that vary in intensity, duration, and purpose (Higgins & Kram, 2001).
What may first appear as a trivial relationship may play as important a role in
protégés’ development as a longer-term, face-to-face relationship. Future
research should look at the impact of duration on the efficacy of e-mentoring
relationships.
In sum, e-mentoring has a promising future and may provide a critical
resource to the globalized workforce. By engaging virtually in a mentoring
relationship, protégés are likely to accrue similar benefits as those afforded
through traditional modes of engagement (i.e., face-to-face). While CMC
may present some limitations, our findings suggest that by connecting elec-
tronically with mentors of their choosing, protégés enhance their learning,
self-efficacy, and skills on their terms and without the need of a formal
24 Group & Organization Management XX(X)
program. Although gender or ethnic differences could present problems in
organizations, both in finding appropriate matches in the dyad and in carrying
out the relationship without prejudice (Ragins et al., 2000), our findings sug-
gest that perceived similarity is what matters in virtual relationships; actual
demographic similarity is unrelated to mentoring received. These findings
provide an important step in clarifying how dyad characteristics affect the
mentoring received and learning and other outcomes. Future research on
e-mentoring practiced by employees with reports from multiple sources may
provide a stronger mandate for and understanding of the importance of vir-
tual mentoring as a viable and effective complement to traditional forms of
mentoring.
Appendix
Items Used in Measures Developed for the Study
Enhanced Skill Self-Efficacy (3 items):
As a result of this e-mentoring experience, I feel more confident about
my ability to initiate similar relationships with potential e-mentors.
This e-mentoring experience has increased my sense of competence in
performing school or work-related activities.
Interacting with my e-mentor has enabled me to master the skills nec-
essary to succeed in the workplace.
Increased Course Concept Application (3 items):
As a result of my e-mentoring relationship, I have increased my under-
standing of course concepts beyond class materials and discussions.
By discussing course concepts with my e-mentor, I feel more confi-
dent in my ability to apply this knowledge in my current or future
workplace.
The insight and advice shared by my e-mentor has served to increase
my knowledge of how to work effectively with others.
Learning Through E-Mentoring (6 items):
Things I learned through collaborating with my e-mentor will “stick”
with me for some time.
I learned a lot through my interactions with my e-mentor.
de Janasz and Godshalk 25
Interacting with my e-mentor helped me recognize and bridge knowl-
edge gaps.
Interacting with my e-mentor enabled me to make real-time use of
insights gained.
This e-mentoring relationship enabled me to learn about things that are
important to me.
Using electronic means to interact with a business professional
enhanced my learning.
Comfort with Establishing a CMC Relationship (5 items):
Before this experience, I felt that it would be quite difficult to obtain
an e-mentor.
Using e-mail to communicate with my e-mentor has enabled me to
overcome any concerns I might have in approaching a stranger to ask
for help or guidance.
As a result of this experience I am more likely to utilize electronic
means to initiate and build e-mentoring relationships.
Using e-mail to initiate an e-mentoring relationship reduced my fear of
being rejected by the e-mentor.
Using e-mail to ask an individual to be my e-mentor was less difficult
than if I were to make the request in person.
Perceived Relevance of Mentor’s Knowledge (3 items):
The information presented by my e-mentor demonstrated that his/her
expertise was relevant.
Collaborating with my e-mentor was a positive way to leverage knowl-
edge and resources.
My e-mentor demonstrated that she or he is current in the topics we
discussed.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research,
authorship, and/or publication of this article.
Funding
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publi-
cation of this article.
26 Group & Organization Management XX(X)
Note
1. We suspect that a very small number of the dyads may have met face-to-face dur-
ing the assignment, even though the assignment required asynchronous, written
communication. First, 62.3% of protégés knew their mentors before the assign-
ment. Second, we encouraged protégés to maintain contact after the assignment;
some let us know that they met in person.
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Author Biographies
[AQ: 1]
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This chapter focuses on mentorship and developmental networks within the context of careers. The various forms of mentoring are considered, along with the reasons that developmental networks have received attention as supplement rather than replacement of traditional mentoring. The chapter reviews empirical evidence demonstrating that mentoring and developmental networks are linked with career outcomes, and discusses the relative contribution of traditional mentoring relationships and the rest of developmental ties on career success. The two candidate mechanisms for the link between mentoring and career success, the performance and the political route, are presented and evidence for each is reviewed. Furthermore, factors that increase the probabilities of individuals’ involvement in mentoring relationships and of participation in developmental networks are discussed. Though the literature has paid nearly exclusive attention to their positive aspects, the chapter also looks at the darker sides of mentorship and developmental networks. These are not limited to negative mentoring experiences, but they extend to evidence in favour of the political route for the link of mentoring with career success along with the possibility that mentoring may serve as a means of transmitting and perpetuating unethical mentalities. The chapter ends with suggestions for future research.
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The evolution in the field of internet technologies and the spectacular acceptance of the world wide web have shaped a new framework, not only for teachers' training but also for their distant support. This study provides insights into the utilization of Microsoft Teams digital collaboration and communication environment to improve the ways teachers are trained and supported by educational work coordinators (EWCs), through an action research conducted in Peloponnese Regional Educational Planning Center, Greece. Research results reveal that Microsoft Teams can contribute to the improvement of teachers' training and support in many ways, considering how successfully it has been utilized to improve the ways teachers are trained and supported by EWCs since the COVID-19 outbreak. At the same time, however, policy makers and education officials should take specific steps in order to assist EWCs in utilizing Microsoft Teams for teachers' training and educational work support.
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This study examined whether the structural attributes of a formal mentoring program and/or certain demographic characteristics of participants in the program influence protege satisfaction. Proteges, employed in a traditionally male occupation, were sampled from a federal agency's mentoring program. According to policy, the agency attempted to assign proteges to one of three mentors they previously requested. An internally-developed measure, designed to assess protege satisfaction, was distributed after their completion in the program. A total of 565 surveys were received from 1998 to 2000. Results indicated that feedback in the assignment process and the frequency of meetings between the protege and mentor were more important determinants of protege satisfaction than racial and gender differences between proteges and the dyad.
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E-mentoring, also known as online mentoring or virtual mentoring, is changing the way that traditional mentor and protégé dyad members interact with each other. Mentoring has been widely known for its ability to enhance the career development, and to provide psychosocial support, for more junior organizational members. Through the use of computer-mediated communication technology, e-mentoring may allow individuals to bridge geographic and time differences. However, there is still much we do not know about e-mentoring and its social effects. This chapter focuses on whether or not computer-mediated communication (CMC) technology will allow for true mentoring relationships to develop, as well as what personal characteristics may be necessary to grow these virtual relationships. A model and proposition for future research are offered.
Chapter
E-mentoring, also known as online mentoring or virtual mentoring, is changing the way that traditional mentor and protégé dyad members interact with each other. Mentoring has been widely known for its ability to enhance the career development, and to provide psychosocial support, for more junior organizational members. Through the use of computer-mediated communication technology, e-mentoring may allow individuals to bridge geographic and time differences. However, there is still much we do not know about e-mentoring and its social effects. This chapter focuses on whether or not computer-mediated communication (CMC) technology will allow for true mentoring relationships to develop, as well as what personal characteristics may be necessary to grow these virtual relationships. A model and proposition for future research are offered.
Chapter
E-mentoring, also known as online mentoring or virtual mentoring, is changing the way that traditional mentor and protégé dyad members interact with each other. Mentoring has been widely known for its ability to enhance the career development, and to provide psychosocial support, for more junior organizational members. Through the use of computer-mediated communication technology, e-mentoring may allow individuals to bridge geographic and time differences. However, there is still much we do not know about e-mentoring and its social effects. This chapter focuses on whether or not computer-mediated communication (CMC) technology will allow for true mentoring relationships to develop, as well as what personal characteristics may be necessary to grow these virtual relationships. A model and proposition for future research are offered.
Article
Traditional mentoring is getting a new look. The age-old developmental process now boasts a streamlined strategy fit for today's fast-paced, caffeine-hyped, and technology-addicted world. As they have with other learning and development programs, many organizations are modernizing mentoring by using the Internet to spread the practice to everyone. Not only does this allow participants to easily create and manage relationships on their own terms, but it puts them in the driver's seat of their career development. While some practitioners may still balk at the idea of web-based mentoring, there is no denying the benefits technology provides to the practice of mentoring. From mentees and mentors who can find their own matches, to administrators who can offer mentoring to scores of people, to organizations that can create pervasive cultures of sharing and learning, the impact of technology can be felt in every facet of modern mentoring.
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Review of the literature on mentoring suggests that having multiple mentors may enhance mentoring outcomes. Multivariate analysis of covariance is used to test possible effects of multiple mentors on six attitudinal outcomes - organizational commitment, job satisfaction, career expectations, role conflict, role ambiguity, and perceived employment alternatives - in a sample of 275 executives. Results of this study indicate that experiencing one or more mentoring relationships in the workplace may result in greater organizational commitment, greater job satisfaction, enhanced career expectations, increased perceptions of alternative employment, and lower ambiguity about one's work role. Role conflict may increase as the number of mentors increases beyond one, however. New areas for research suggested by these results are discussed.