This chapter analyzes the ways that individuals develop person-to-group ties. The chapter reviews the development and evidentiary basis of the theory of relational cohesion, the affect theory of social exchange, and the theory of social commitments.
We survey twenty-five years of published literature on these theories, and review unpublished theoretical tests and extensions that are currently in progress.
The research program has grown substantially over the past twenty-five years to encompass more varied and diverse phenomena. The findings indicate that structural interdependencies, repeated exchanges, and a sense of shared responsibility are key conditions for people to develop affective ties to groups, organizations, and even nation-states.
The research implies that if people are engaged in joint tasks, they attribute positive or negative feelings from those tasks to their local groups (teams, departments) and/or to larger organizations (companies, communities). To date, empirical tests have focused on microlevel processes.
Our work has practical implications for how managers or supervisors organize tasks and work routines in a way to maximize group or organizational commitment.
This research helps to understand problems of fragmentation that are faced by decentralized organizations and also how these can be overcome.
Originality/Value of the Chapter
The chapter represents the most complete and comprehensive review of the theory of relational cohesion, the affect theory of social exchange, and the theory of social commitments to date.
This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Collaborative Grant Numbers SBR-9817706 and SBR-9816259 to the University of South Carolina and Cornell University.
Thye, S.R., Vincent, A., Lawler, E.J. and Yoon, J. (2014), "Relational Cohesion, Social Commitments, and Person-to-Group Ties: Twenty-Five Years of a Theoretical Research Program", Advances in Group Processes (Advances in Group Processes, Vol. 31), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 99-138. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0882-614520140000031008
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