Changing the Lens: Viewing the Mentoring Relationship as Relational Structures in a Social Exchange Framework
May 26, 2013 Editor 0
Purpose – To expand the literature and enhance understanding of the mentoring process, this research proposes the social exchange theory (SET) as a framework for the exchanges that take place between individuals in a mentoring relationship.Design/methodology/approach – A detailed literature review for mentoring and Fiske’s (1991) social exchange theory propositions, as well as work by Hofstede (1985) on power distance, gender, and diversity studies provide a new approach to mentoring research.
Findings – The four relational structures (communal sharing, authority ranking, equality matching and market pricing) developed by Fiske (1991) and the effects of diversity (Liff & Dale, 1994; Liff & Wajcman, 1996; Thomas, 1992) are integrated with the existing mentoring literature to create a new model explaining the effects exchange type and diversity have on the perceived amount of support given and received during the maturation process of the mentoring relationship.
Research limitations/implications – This paper extends an under-researched area of mentoring with discussion and suggests areas for future research. Specifically, the study focuses on operationalising and testing the proposed, expanded mentoring model in both qualitative and quantitative research for confirmation and further theory building.
Originality/value – By integrating mentoring and Fiske’s (1991) social exchange theories to provide an alternative explanation for the mentoring process, this paper proposes a number of new possible relationships that will require quantitative, confirmatory research but should add significantly to this area of study. Propositions for further testing are provided as well as suggestions for operationalising and testing the model.
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