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Women in formal corporate networks: an organisational citizenship perspective

Val Singh (Cranfield School of Management, Centre for Developing Women Business Leaders, Cranfield University, Bedford, UK)
Susan Vinnicombe (Cranfield School of Management, Centre for Developing Women Business Leaders, Cranfield University, Bedford, UK)
Savita Kumra (Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK)

Women in Management Review

ISSN: 0964-9425

Article publication date: 1 August 2006




To investigate women's corporate networks, and the reported benefits for the women and their employers. To gain insight into the motivation for these voluntary activities, by drawing on organisational citizenship theory.


The paper explores the issue using in‐depth interviews with chairs and organisers of 12 women's networks, and triangulated the data with an email survey resulting in 164 responses from network members in five companies.


The paper identifies how networks were set up and managed, as well as the benefits that accrue to the organisation, the leaders and the members. Key findings were the wealth of voluntarily contributed extra‐role behaviours, and totally business‐oriented view of the activities presented by network leaders. More senior women were more likely to report prosocial behaviours such as driving change and supporting others. Organisational citizenship theory provided a lens through which to draw insight into actors' motivations for supporting corporate networking.

Research limitations/implications

This is a study of only 12 corporate networks within large UK companies, but findings should be useful for any employers or senior women thinking about starting or refreshing a corporate women's network.

Practical implications

Women and their employers appear to benefit strongly from being involved in corporate networking. Evidence suggests that employers should support internal women's networks, given the organisational citizenship behaviours voluntarily contributed for their benefit.


This paper is the first to investigate how women's corporate networks are organised, and how their activities benefit not just the women but also the employer. Organisational citizenship theory provides insight into motivation for such initiatives. The findings should be of interest not just for those involved in women‐in‐management studies, but also to organisational citizenship and networking researchers.



Singh, V., Vinnicombe, S. and Kumra, S. (2006), "Women in formal corporate networks: an organisational citizenship perspective", Women in Management Review, Vol. 21 No. 6, pp. 458-482.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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