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People commonly talk about the energy associated with certain individuals or company initiatives. Managers can translate such talk into action that creates more energy, improves performance and fosters learning.
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What Creates Energy
in Organizations?
SUMMER 2003 VOL.44 NO.4
Rob Cross, Wayne Baker & Andrew Parker
Management Review
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Management Review
Rob Cross is an assistant professor at the University of Virginia’s
McIntire School of Commerce in Charlottesville. Wayne Baker is
a professor at the University of Michigan Business School in Ann
Arbor. Andrew Parker is a research consultant at the IBM Institute
for Knowledge-Based Organizations in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
They can be reached at,
People commonly talk about
the energy (or lack thereof)
associated with certain
individuals or company
initiatives. Managers can
translate such talk into action
that creates more energy,
improves performance and
fosters learning.
Rob Cross, Wayne Baker
and Andrew Parker
pend some time in most any organization and you are sure to hear peo-
ple talk about the level of energy associated with different people or proj-
ects. In some instances, an initiative may be characterized in terms of the
energy “around” it. In others, a team in which ideas flow freely and its mem-
bers build effortlessly on one another’s work will be described as “high
energy.” In still others, a particularly influential person may be known as an
“energizer”— someone who can spark progress on projects or within groups.
On the flip side are the people who have an uncanny ability to drain the life
out of a group. These energy-sappers are avoided whenever possible,even when
they have expertise to contribute to solving a problem. When a meeting with
a “de-energizer” is unavoidable, people often waste time dreading it and men-
tally rehearse how they will cope. They usually find the inter-
action unproductive and disheartening and afterward may
seek out colleagues in order to vent their frustration. Thus de-
energizers not only drain the people they meet but often affect
the productivity of people they might not even know.
Most people are quick to acknowledge that they have both
energizers and de-energizers in their lives. Equally quickly,
they relate energy to important managerial concerns such as
team performance, innovation, employee motivation and job
satisfaction. Yet while the term energy is pervasive in much of
organizational life, it is also a highly elusive concept in that
context.1Usually when people describe energizing conversa-
tions, they refer to ones in which they are mentally engaged,
enthused and willing to commit effort to possibilities arising
from the discussion. But is energy truly related to perform-
ance or learning in organizations? And how is it created and
transferred in groups?
What Creates Energy
in Organizations?
To answer those questions, we assessed energy within seven
large groups in different organizations. (See About the
Research.) While energy can be derived from intrinsic motiva-
tion or inspired by job design, we were interested in how it is gen-
erated in day-to-day interactions with others at work. Rather
than considering energy as a product of charismatic leadership or
something created within the confines of a team, we set out to
assess how relationships with all of ones colleagues in other
words, within a social network affect the energy of an individ-
ual, a group or an entire organization.
The social networks mapped from this information can be
very illuminating. (See Mapping Energy in Social Networks.)
Yet these analyses are valuable for more than the light they shed
on energizers and de-energizers in social networks. They also
reveal why energy is important for performance and learning and
how it is created (or destroyed) in organizations. And they give
rise to a set of questions that can help managers and the people
they oversee increase the energy they generate in their interac-
tions with colleagues.
Performance and Learning Implications
Some may consider energy an impossibly squishy subject one
for which a correlation with performance and learning cannot be
established. But we have evidence that indicates otherwise: In three
of the seven organizations we studied, we were able to obtain reli-
able performance information on the people within the network.2
And we found a critical link between a persons position within
the energy networkand his or her performance as measured by
annual human-resource ratings.3Specifically, we discovered that
those who energized others were higher performers, even after con-
trolling for peoples ability to get the information they need from
their own networks and technologies. There are several important
reasons for this connection between energy and performance.
Energizers are more likely to have their ideas considered and put
into action. They motivate others to act both within an organiza-
tion (to undertake change initiatives, for example) and outside it
(such as a client considering the purchase of software or services).
Energizers get more from those around them. In the short
term, people devote themselves more fully to interactions with an
energizer, giving undivided attention in a meeting or problem-
solving session. They are also more likely to devote discretionary
time to an energizers concerns. People working with an energizer
will spend time reflecting on a problem while commuting, send
an extra e-mail or two to find necessary information, or go out of
their way to introduce someone to a valued contact.
Energizers also attract the commitment of other high per-
formers. Their reputations spread quickly, and people position
themselves to work for these engaging colleagues. The desire to
work for or with energizers seems to account for our last finding
about energy and performance: Not only are energizers better
performers themselves, but people who are strongly connected to
an energizer are also better performers.
Finally, energizers affect more than just performance. They
also have a striking impact on what individuals and networks as a
whole learn over time. People rely on their networks for informa-
tion to get their work done, and they are much more likely to seek
information and learn from energizers than from de-energizers.4
We first used social-network analytic techniquesito assess
energy in seven large networks in a strategy consulting
firm, a financial services organization, a petrochemical busi-
ness, a government agency and three technology compa-
nies.ii The networks were composed of between 44 and
125 people. Using a case-based approach informed by per-
spectives from social-network analysis, charismatic leader-
ship, motivation, role theory and goal-setting theory, we
then conducted 63 interviews with people from each of the
seven social networks (interviewing three people from each
hierarchical level) in order to understand better how energy
is created or destroyed. The interviews were semistructured
and required interviewees to discuss interactions and rela-
tionships with people they had identified in the social-
network analysis as either energizing or de-energizing.
i. A social network is defined as a specified set of actors and their rela-
tionships. Social-network analysis applies statistics and mathematics
to understand the patterns of relationships among actors and the impli-
cations of these relationships. See, for example, S.Wasserman and
K. Faust, “Social-Network Analysis: Methods and Applications”(Cam-
bridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1994).
ii. For additional details, see R. Cross, W. Baker and A.Parker, Charged
Up: The Creation and Depletion of Energy in Social Networks,working
paper, IBM Institute for Knowledge-Based Organizations, Cambridge,
Massachusetts, July 2002.
About the Research
We found a critical link between a person’s position within the “energy network”
and his or her performance as measured by annual human-resource ratings.
While energizers have a disproportionate effect on group learn-
ing, the expertise of de-energizers often goes untapped no matter
how relevant it is. Instead of finding ways to modify their behav-
ior, however, de-energizers tend to persist in unconstructive
approaches when they are bypassed. In the words of one executive:
Avoiding them just makes them yell louder and cause more prob-
lems because they dont feel heard. And it can become a crusade
for them. They keep pushing their opinions harder, rather than
trying different ways to engage the group constructively.
In short, we systematically found that energy is more than just
a New Age concept. It has a substantial and predictable effect on
performance and innovation in organizations. But can anything
be done to create or at least not destroy energy? Yes, and the
first step is to understand some simple but dramatic differences
between energizers and de-energizers.
Energy Creation
Two themes emerged from our interviews with people about
energy. First, energy is not just a matter of the observable behav-
ior in an interaction; it is also dependent on characteristics of the
individuals involved in a given interaction and the relationship
between them. For example, in an otherwise identical discussion,
people may be energized by the vision of someone known for her
integrity but turned off by someone who is not considered trust-
worthy. Second, energy is created in conversations that balance
several dimensions of an interaction. Hitting the midpoint, or
Energy is part of everyday talk and expe-
rience in organizational life. It clearly
is associated with people’s motivation
and willingness to exert effort, and it is
tightly linked to progress in organiza-
tions — initiatives that are described
as having energy are usually the ones
moving forward. Yet energy is also an
abstract idea with little clarity regarding
how it might be created or how it influ-
ences outcomes. A social-network view
of energy can make broad patterns
observable and thereby actionable in
Managers can use social-network
analysis to find out who the “attractors”
in the organization are, which projects
generate the most enthusiasm, and
whether reorganizations or strategic
initiatives are having any effect. Social-
network analysis can also identify energy
sappers — individuals, functional or
leadership groups that are having a de-
energizing effect on the organization.
To create the diagram below, for
example, we assessed a group of engi-
neers within a petrochemical organiza-
tion. We asked each of the members to
rate the level of energy he or she usually
felt when interacting with each of the
others. Respondents were asked to indi-
cate a value from 1 to 5, with 1 indicat-
ing that interactions with a given person
were “strongly de-energizing” and 5
meaning they were “strongly energiz-
ing.” The results indicated that many
in the network found their supervisors
de-energizing. In the diagram, the per-
son to whom the arrow points was a
de-energizer in the eyes of the person
at the other end of the line. Group and
organization de-energizers are identified
where the arrow points cluster.
In another study, we analyzed a gov-
ernment agency that had recently gone
through a reorganization following the
September 11 terrorist attacks. New
executives had been brought in to estab-
lish and mobilize support for a new set
of priorities. In this case, the responses
to the question about energy, in con-
junction with interviews of network
members, made it clear that the new
leaders were highly energizing and
effectively engaging others in the new
strategic direction.
In both the petrochemical company
and the government agency, the insights
created by social-network analysis
formed the basis of feedback and
informed coaching and development
processes that improved morale and
Figure adapted from W. Baker, R. Cross and M.
Wooten, Positive Organizational Network Analysis
and Energizing Relationships,in Positive Organi-
zational Scholarship,eds. K.Cameron, J. Dutton
and R. Quinn (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, in
De-Energizing Supervisors in a Petrochemical Organization
Mapping Energy in Social Networks
sweet spot, of these five dimensions, rather than the extremes, is
the challenge for those interested in generating energy.
People are energized by interactions in which a compelling
vision is created. Energy is not usually generated in conversa-
tions about current or past problems. Whether in the pursuit of
personal or business objectives, energy is produced from a focus
on possibilities. These possibilities, or visions, must be inspiring
and worthy of peoples time and effort, but they cannot be over-
whelming. Interviewees consistently indicated that conversations
about unrealistic projects were draining and that they often left
such interactions either annoyed that they had wasted time or
distressed by the amount of work they had inherited.
The ability to create a compelling vision is a consistent differ-
entiator between energizers and de-energizers. Energizers see
realistic possibilities; de-energizers see roadblocks at every turn.
By consistently airing their negative views, they can have a deadly
effect on the ability of a group to create a compelling but realis-
tic future. As one manager said about two people on his team:
We have one guy who always sees only problems or reasons that
we cant do things a certain way. That gets old over time. Its not
a single disagreement that kills you; its the personality behind it.
But another member of the team has more of a tendency to see
opportunities in situations, and thats energizing all around. Peo-
ple want to take part in building something.
People are energized by interactions in which they can con-
tribute meaningfully. Energizers create opportunities for peo-
ple to enter conversations or problem-solving sessions in ways
that make them feel heard. In contrast, de-energizers often either
do not create the space in a conversation for others to engage or
do not find ways to value different perspectives. This can be a
particular problem for people with a great deal of expertise. One
software developer had this to say about a colleague: I couldnt
even get into the conversation. It was like she knew the answer
already, and we were just doing the team thing to come to the
answer.And if anything wavered from that path, it was put down.
When I finally got into the conversation she just kind of glossed
over my point and gave me a look like Nice try, but …’ and went
on in another direction. I didnt say anything else in that meeting
and didnt push hard after that for the rest of the week.
This is not to say that all contributions should be received
uncritically just that effective contributions need to be
acknowledged and ineffective ones handled in a way that does
not marginalize the contributor. Consider how an employee of a
government agency talked about her boss: In one case, he sat
down with me over lunch and said,I dont think we should go in
the direction you suggest, and here is why. Do you think Im off
base?And he really meant it he would have changed his mind
or built on my ideas if I had different opinions that held up. I
know thats true because it has happened since then. But he let
me know that he was most concerned with getting a good idea,
not with whose idea it was.
People are energized when participants are fully engaged in an
interaction. Energy in conversations increases as people con-
tribute meaningfully and at the same time learn from others sim-
ilarly engaged. Body language plays an important role; it can
show lack of attention, as people attempt to do more than one
thing at a time, and it can also signal and inspire energy through
many subtle but important cues. One executive had this to say
about an energizing colleague: He just seems to exert a sheer
force that you feed off of. He is animated and engaged with you.
He is also listening and reacting to what you are saying with undi-
vided attention. Not many people do that. They go through the
motions of listening or they listen only to figure out how they can
advance their own points of view.
The mental intensity required to engage fully with others can
itself be draining. The use of humor, in the right measure and
kind, can relieve the intensity of such interactions and help peo-
ple refocus. But energizers are not simply entertainers or even
necessarily all that charismatic or intense. Rather, they bring
themselves fully to a given interaction, keeping their attention on
the person or people they are involved with at the moment.
People are energized in interactions marked by progress. Ener-
gizers are driven to a goal (a compelling vision) but are open and
flexible about how to get there. That allows progress to occur in
unexpected ways as people determine on their own how to move
an idea or a project forward.
In contrast, de-energizers may have a goal in mind but a pre-
conceived notion of how to get there,which they attempt to impose
on everyone. For example,one software developer told us this story
about a manager he worked with: We had been working like crazy
The ability to create a compelling vision is a consistent differentiator between energizers
and de-energizers. Energizers see realistic possibilities; de-energizers see roadblocks.
on this project when he swooped in and just started telling us what
we should do. He didnt take the time to try to understand what we
were telling him or even care about the work we had done. That
really crushed not only the ideas that could have been developed in
that session but also kept people from caring and putting in any
more effort than they had to going forward.In other words, the
heavy-handed intervention by the manager had the opposite of the
intended effect, as the software developers disengaged and stalled
any progress the project might have made. That happens far more
frequently than busy executives might think. Often overloaded
with problems, they come into meetings with a firefighting men-
tality and frequently leave feeling that they have made a real con-
tribution to putting out the fires. What executives miss, however, is
the devastating effect on energy that the exclusive focus on prob-
lems and their own favored solutions can have.
Interestingly, de-energizers can also wipe out a sense of
progress by being too unfocused by constantly bringing up
unresolvable problems so that no one understands which direc-
tion to take. Although people do not have to leave an interaction
with a solution, they must leave knowing which steps to take next.
People are energized in interactions when hope becomes part
of the equation. People dont initially have to like either the tasks
or the leader associated with a project in order to be energized.
But emotion, in the form of hope, plays a role in energizing inter-
actions. Hope allows people to become energized when they begin
to believe that the objective is worthy and can be attained. They
get excited about the possibilities and stop looking for the pitfalls.
Energizers have two characteristics that influence otherswill-
ingness to hope. They speak their minds rather than harboring
hidden agendas or acting the way they think their role in the
organization dictates. People feel like they get the truth from
energizers, even when it is not necessarily pleasant. Second, they
maintain integrity between their words and their actions. In our
interviews, we repeatedly heard about scenarios in which hopes
were dashed (and energy depleted) because someone did not
uphold his or her commitments. A software developer described
how this happened with one of her colleagues: The first time we
talked about a project, I went home ecstatic. I literally spent the
weekend framing the project. But he never came back to me with
anything he said he would, and of course I ended up with all the
work. Now I know better when I hear him talk, even though most
people, not knowing the history, would be pretty excited about
the possibilities.
Eight Decisions That Increase Energy
These eight questions form a diagnostic for addressing points in
a network where energy is flagging or nonexistent. At a mini-
mum, they can constitute a self-test that everyone might con-
sider, either individually or by seeking feedback from colleagues.
We refer to these as decisions in order to emphasize that people
choose behaviors many times in most days that have a
striking effect on othersenergy.
Do you weave relationship development into work and day-to-
day actions? Concern for others and connections outside of
work-based roles allow trust to develop.
Do you do what you say you are going to do? Peoples reserva-
tions fall away only if they can trust that others will follow
through on their commitments.
Do you address tough issues with integrity? People are ener-
gized in the presence of others who stand for something larger
than themselves.
Do you look for possibilities or just identify constraints? De-
energizers keep ideas from ever getting off the ground by see-
ing only obstacles to success.
When you disagree with someone, do you focus attention on
the issue at hand rather than the individual? Energizers are able
to disagree with an idea while not marginalizing the person
who presented it.
Are you cognitively and physically engaged in meetings and
conversations? Rather than going through the motions of being
engaged something that is much more transparent than
many de-energizers think energizers physically and mentally
show their interest in the person and the topic of conversation.
Are you flexible in your thinking or do you force others to come
to your way of thinking? Rather than force others to accept their
way of thinking, energizers draw people into conversations and
projects by finding opportunities for them to contribute.
Do you use your own expertise appropriately? Too often,
experts or leaders destroy energy in their haste to find a solu-
tion or demonstrate their knowledge.
When combined with a social-network analysis, this diagnostic
can provide a useful device for two parties (or two categories of
people, such as leaders and followers) to locate problems in their
interactions. The network analysis can pinpoint problem areas,
while the questions inform behavioral change.
Several of the organizations we worked with changed their
human resource practices in an effort to inspire energizing
behaviors more broadly. Simple alterations to hiring criteria or
performance evaluation processes can have a systematic impact
on how energy is fostered within an organization. For example,
one organization included items on enthusiasm and energy in
rating schemes used to assess potential hires. Another included
dimensions of energy and trust (a critical relational characteris-
tic and foundation for energy) in 360-degree performance-feed-
back processes. A third embedded ideas about increasing energy
into leadership-development training.
ENERGY IN ORGANIZATIONS matters for performance, morale,
innovation and learning people understand this intuitively
and our research confirms it. By mapping relationships, man-
agers can see where energy is being created and where it is being
depleted. They can then take action, encouraging simple changes
in behavior to increase energy in places where its lack is hinder-
ing the progress of important organizational initiatives.
We would like to thank Tom Bateman, Steve Borgatti, Jane Dutton,
Amy Halliday, Ryan Quinn, Gretchen Spreitzer and Ellen Whitener for
helpful comments on this work.We would also like to acknowledge
support from the Batten Institute at the University of Virginias Darden
Graduate School of Business Administration.
1. Energy is defined as a type of positive affective arousal, which peo-
ple can experience as emotion short responses to specific events
or mood longer-lasting affective states that need not be
a response to a specific event.See R.Quinn and J. Dutton, Coordi-
nation as Energy-in-Conversation:A Process Theory of Organizing,
Academy of Management Review, in press.Related concepts in psy-
chology and sociology include energetic arousalin R.E.Thayer,
The Biopsychology of Mood and Arousal(New York: Oxford Univer-
sity Press, 1989) and emotional energyin R.Collins, Emotional
Energy as the Common Denominator of Rational Action,Rationality
and Society 5 (April 1993): 203-230.
2. The first group consisted of 125 consultants and managers in one
office of a global strategy-consulting firm; the second was a group of
86 statisticians in a major credit-card organization; the third was a
group of 101 engineers within a large petrochemical organization.
3. In all three organizations, the rating was a composite figure based
on an aggregation of project evaluations and objective data from the
previous year.The figures were not entirely consistent each organi-
zation was concerned with different dimensions of performance in
the annual evaluation process but they were consistent as general
appraisals of a persons performance.The evaluations were also sepa-
rate from the persons perception of his or her own performance.
4. For example, see W.E.Baker, Achieving Success Through Social
Capital:Tapping the Hidden Resources in Your Personal and Business
Networks(San Francisco:Jossey-Bass, 2000);R. Burt, Structural
Holes:The Social Structure of Competition(Cambridge, Massachu-
setts: Harvard University Press, 1992);M.T.Hansen, The Search-
Transfer Problem:The Role of Weak Ties in Sharing Knowledge Across
Organization Subunits,Administrative Science Quarterly 44 (March
1999): 82-111;and R. Sparrowe, R.C.Liden, S.J.Wayne and M.L.
Kraimer, Social Networks and the Performance of Individuals and
Groups,Academy of Management Journal 44 (April 2001): 316-325.
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Contemporary research of employee social network analysis has grown far beyond the conventional wisdom of network and turnover theory; however, what is missing is a comprehensive review highlighting new perspectives and network constructs from a retention viewpoint. Since turnover is a concurrent component of retention, the analysis of the factors of quit propensity can result in a pre-emptive strategy for retention. This paper aims to capture the current state of the field and proposes a conceptual model for retention by exploring network position, centrality measures, network type, and the snowball effect. We identified 30 papers exploring voluntary turnover in social network constructs. Findings show that central network position is not always associated with negative turnover. Eigenvector, structural holes, and K-shell also prove to be a strong predictor of turnover. The snowball turnover of employees in similar network positions is pronounced in scenarios where employee sentiment is negative with poor group efficacy, entrepreneurship, and group values. This paper focuses on several themes to coalesce different determinants of an organizational network to demonstrate how social network theory has evolved to predict employee turnover. The resulting conceptual model suggests how to identify star performers and propose retention strategies.
... Through enhancement of relational energy, the quality of interpersonal relationships will be improved (Amah, 2017), the personnel would be reinforced to do their best in difficult jobs (Owens et al., 2016), and the organizational goals will be achieved (Cole et al., 2012). Moreover, relational energy has a prominent role in organizational learning (Cross, Baker, Parker, 2003) and knowledge sharing (Baker, 2019), and a decreasing effect on work-family conflicts (Amah, 2016), and turnover (Parker, Gerbasi, 2016). Employees receiving positive energy from their leaders, become efficiently able to find new resolutions for the challenging situations (Cole et al., 2012). ...
Purpose. This study aimed to determine the effectiveness of CREW intervention on the relational energy of employees in Isfahan Gas company. Method. The research was a quasi-experimental study with pretest, posttest and control group design. The sample consisted of 30 volunteer staff of Gas company who randomly assigned to experimental and control groups. Relational energy questionnaire (2016) was administered on both groups in the pre-test and post-test stages. CREW intervention administered on the experimental group for eight sessions each one 90 minutes. The control group received no intervention. The data was analyzed through ANCOVA by SPSS-23. Findings. The results suggested that there was a significant difference between experimental and control groups following the intervention. Accordingly, CREW intervention enhanced relational energy of employees in the post-test. The findings of this study suggested that administers and authorities of organizations use CREW intervention to enhance the positive interpersonal relationships and relational energy of their personnel. Originality. According to our search in previous studies, no research has been found to examine the effectiveness of the CREW intervention on relational energy of employees, but our findings were concordant with the reports, in which it was suggested that CREW was effective on enhancing civility, respect and trust, and improvement of interactions among the personnel.
... In the context of research on EGB, it appears particularly interesting to study amplifying dynamics to explore the patterns and developments in the display of EGB throughout an organization. Second and relatedly, EGB may be linked to theory on the collective energy in work teams (Cross et al., 2003;Cole et al., 2012). Collective energy is an emergent phenomenon, rooted in individual energetic states that fan out and amplify through interactions, exchanges, shared exposure to events, and contagion processes among team members (Cole et al., 2012). ...
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Employees can play a decisive role in combatting climate change by engaging in green behavior at work. Research on employee green behavior has recently gained traction, with research results pointing to the considerable influence of positive variables (e.g., personal values, positive affect) on employee green behavior. While such positive variables lie at the heart of the scholarly discipline positive organizational psychology, there is scant research at the intersection of positive organizational psychology and employee green behavior. The current manuscript aims to give impetus to such research. To this end, the manuscript presents a systematic review of the literature on positive predictors of employee green behavior and identified 94 articles that investigate such predictors. We explicitly map these investigated predictors onto a positive (organizational) psychology frame of reference. Subsequently, we use the findings of the review to identify gaps and outline concrete suggestions for future research at the intersection of positive organizational psychology and employee green behavior, addressing both theoretical and methodological suggestions.
Contemporary business world is characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity and is popularly known as VUCA world. This uncontrollable negative spiral in today’s workplace requires organizational leaders to instil stability, safety, hope and meaning. Organizational experts believe that positive leadership of an organization can guide and show the right directions to its people for achieving organizational goals even in the face of trouble and adversity. Keeping this in view, the present paper purports to develop a comprehensive conceptual framework for examining the relationship between positive leadership and organizational effectiveness. This paper also attempts to establish the intervening role of organizational citizenship behaviour and emotional intelligence on the relationship between positive leadership and organizational effectiveness. Researchers undertook an in-depth and extensive literature survey in order to critically examine the impact of positive leadership on organizational effectiveness. The review provides a comprehensive framework to develop a conceptual model of positive leadership in the organizational context. The proposed conceptual framework would enable researchers and management experts gain a deeper and nuanced understanding of the role of positive leadership in producing improved organizational functioning and effectiveness. The paper offers multiple practical implications for HR practitioners and management experts which if properly utilized would prove to be useful in fostering positive leadership skills in the organizations through effective leadership development interventions and executive coaching programmes, leading to better performance of the employees. The study contributes to deeper and nuanced understanding of the construct of Positive Leadership and proposes a new conceptual model suited to the Indian context.KeywordsPositive leadershipOrganizational effectivenessOrganizational citizenship behaviourEmotional intelligence
Human resource (HR) managers play a critical role in supporting workers during organizational crisis recovery, but this support is hampered when employee energy is drained during difficult times. We develop relational theory and practical suggestions to address how employees can generate energy from interpersonal interactions in a post‐crisis context. Drawing from interviews, field observations, and archival data of interpersonal interactions in the surf and boardsport industry in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, we investigated individual energetic contributions and the process which generated relational energy, defined as psychological resourcefulness generated from interpersonal interactions that enhances work capacity. Our analysis revealed that in the aftermath of a crisis, employees generated relational energy by engaging in processes of perspective taking and interpersonal adjustment while engaging in crisis‐recovery work. This was particularly true when their personal contributions to the interactions were negative or neutral in valence and of low intensity. This is in contrast to assumptions in the literature and industry cultural norms, but was essential to fueling interdependent work efforts during crisis recovery. These findings extend and refine theory on energy at work to help inform HR practice by developing understanding of how the energy generated from other people can be an important resource to help sustain crisis recovery, and how HR managers can support these processes.
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A field study involving 190 employees in 38 work groups representing five diverse organizations provided evidence that social networks, as defined in terms of both positive and negative relations, are related to both individual and group performance. As hypothesized, individual job performance was positively related to centrality in advice networks and negatively related to centrality in hindrance networks composed of relationships tending to thwart task behaviors. Hindrance network density was significantly and negatively related to group performance.
A solution is proposed to several long-standing problems in the theory of rational social action: emotional or altruistic behavior that escapes cost/benefit calculations; the lack of a common metric among different spheres of action; and naturalistic evidence that choice in real-life situations involves little calculation. Emotional, symbolic, and value-oriented behavior is determined by a social mechanism, the dynamics of interaction rituals (IRs). Because IRs vary in the amount of solidarity they provide, and in their costs of participating, there is a market for ritual participation that shapes the distribution of individual behavior IRs generate a variable level of emotional energy (EE) in each individual over time, and EE operates as the common denominator in terms of which choices are made among alternative courses of action. Individuals apportion their investments in work and in ritual participation to maximize their overall flow of EE. The economy of participating in interaction rituals shapes individual motivation for participating in the economy of material goods and services. Microsituational cognition is determined by the EE and the cognitive symbols generated by IRs, bringing about the tendency to narrow the range of alternatives that are consciously focused upon in choice situations. Nevertheless, the aggregation of microsituations is subject to interactional markets, which gives individuals a rational trajectory in the medium-run drift of behavior.
This paper combines the concept of weak ties from social network research and the notion of complex knowledge to explain the role of weak ties in sharing knowledge across organization subunits in a multiunit organization. I use a network study of 120 new-product development projects undertaken by 41 divisions in a large electronics company to examine the task of developing new products in the least amount of time. Findings show that weak interunit ties help a project team search for useful knowledge in other subunits but impede the transfer of complex knowledge, which tends to require a strong tie between the two parties to a transfer. Having weak interunit ties speeds up projects when knowledge is not complex but slows them down when the knowledge to be transferred is highly complex. I discuss the implications of these findings for research on social networks and product innovation.
Achieving Success Through Social Capital: Tapping the Hidden Resources in Your Personal and Business Networks Structural Holes: The Social Structure of Competition The Search- Transfer Problem: The Role of Weak Ties in Sharing Knowledge Across Organization Subunits
  • See W E For Example
  • R Baker
  • M T Burt
  • R Hansen
  • R C Sparrowe
  • S J Liden
  • M L Wayne
  • Kraimer
For example, see W.E. Baker, " Achieving Success Through Social Capital: Tapping the Hidden Resources in Your Personal and Business Networks " (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000); R. Burt, " Structural Holes: The Social Structure of Competition " (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1992); M.T. Hansen, " The Search- Transfer Problem: The Role of Weak Ties in Sharing Knowledge Across Organization Subunits, " Administrative Science Quarterly 44 (March 1999): 82-111; and R. Sparrowe, R.C. Liden, S.J. Wayne and M.L. Kraimer, " Social Networks and the Performance of Individuals and Groups, " Academy of Management Journal 44 (April 2001): 316-325.