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Sebastian Schorch

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PHD Graduate - 2015

Thesis title

An actor focused exploration of antecedents to social network evolution within and between groups in organizations

Supervisor(s)

Alexandra Gerbasi

Areas of expertise

  • Organizational Behavior
  • Social Networks

After successfully defending  his PhD at Grenoble Ecole de Management, Sebastian went on to pursue a career in academia and is currently working as an Assistant Professor at the Andes University in Bogotá, Colombia. His current research projects include topics such as the knowledge search of work groups, the spread of prosocial behaviors in organizations, and the individual recognition of opportunities for professional advancement.

In this thesis, I explore how individual behaviors and perceptions influence the evolution of their networks of social relationships. Social network research in general has a structuralist tradition which makes actor focused research an important complementary element. The empirical studies are predominantly based on quantitative longitudinal social network data which has been collected in an R&D department of a biopharmaceutical company, and during a innovation competition between between teams of engineering students. Chapter 2 is about the benefits of civility and investigates the influence of civil behavior on patterns of advice seeking and leadership. I find that civil individuals are more likely to be sought out for advice and are more likely to be perceived as leader, which in turns benefits their work performance. Chapter 3 is about knowledge seeking of teams in a competitive situation. Here, I find that team members preferably seek knowledge from team outsiders, whom they perceive as noteworthy competitor. This behavior benefits their teams’ performance, while those teams that are perceived (and sought out) by many others perform worse despite their assumed competence advantage. Chapter 4 is about the influence of group internal relationships on group external relationships. Here, I find that personal relationships within the group promote downward comparisons to group outsiders, while professional relationships within the group promote upward comparisons to group outsiders. In combination, these three empirical applications shed light on actor induced network dynamics within and across social aggregates. I derive various recommendations for managers that lead work groups or departments in organizations on how they can boost their own-, and their subordinates’ performance. Keywords: Social networks, civility, teams, competition, social comparison