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The Tie That Binds: Exchange and Commitment in the Face Of Uncertainty
AuthorSavage, Scott V.
AdvisorMolm, Linda D.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe bonding power of the gift has been the subject of much social scientific research. My dissertation adds to this by examining the relationship between gift giving and commitment to a social network or an employing organization. Ideas and concepts from social exchange and identity theories provide the theoretical underpinnings for this investigation. Social exchange theory views human interaction as a series of resource exchanges, and I contend that how people exchange resources may have ramifications for the bonds that develop between them and for their commitment to particular social relations. This study has two parts. In the first half of the dissertation, I ask whether the greater relational solidarity that results from direct reciprocal exchange, as opposed to negotiated exchange, differentially affects whether actors choose to leave their existing exchange networks for new ones and if so, why? Direct reciprocal exchange involves actors directly and independently giving resources to others without knowing whether the recipients of those resources will reciprocate in kind. Negotiated exchange involves actors jointly bargaining over the terms of an agreement. Differences between these two forms of exchange inform my causal argument about why actors are more like to stay in social networks if they participate in direct reciprocal exchange. I test this argument using an experiment. The second half of the dissertation continues this investigation into reciprocal exchange by examining the factors that affect gift giving in the workplace as well as the effects of gift giving on organizational commitment. Here, gift giving is defined broadly to include any act that involves people freely and independently volunteering to provide either tangible or intangible benefits to others without knowing if others will reciprocate. Data from a survey distributed to registered nurses working for a large healthcare organization provides the empirical basis for this investigation. Together the experiment and survey allow for an in-depth investigation into how exchange processes affect commitments to social networks and organizations. As such, the findings reported herein advance sociological understanding about how micro-level processes shape macro-level structures. They also speak to the practical issue of organizational retention.
Degree ProgramGraduate College