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Relational Cohesion, Social Commitments, and Person-to-Group Ties: Twenty-Five Years of a Theoretical Research Program

Advances in Group Processes

ISBN: 978-1-78441-078-0

ISSN: 0882-6145

Publication date: 1 January 2014

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Methodology/Approach

We survey twenty-five years of published literature on these theories, and review unpublished theoretical tests and extensions that are currently in progress.

Findings

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.

Research Limitations/Implications

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.

Practical Implications

Our work has practical implications for how managers or supervisors organize tasks and work routines in a way to maximize group or organizational commitment.

Social Implications

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.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgment

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.

Citation

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

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014 Emerald Group Publishing Limited