, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 105-123

Social Exchange and Emotional Investment in Work Groups

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Abstract

This study applied a social exchange perspective to examine three related aspects of work group behavior: individuals' assessment of the personal costs and rewards of group membership, the overall level of emotional investment in a group, and the external evaluation of group performance. Regression analyses of survey data from 28 ongoing student work groups (134 individuals) indicated that perceptions of personal rewards resulting from interaction over a ten-week period are an important precursor of emotional investment, defined as a relational orientation that encourages mutual caring, group loyalty, and commitment to the group as a whole. Consistent with our expectations, personal costs influenced neither emotional investment nor group performance after considering the effects of personal rewards. Emotional investment mediated the effects of personal rewards on externally rated group performance. Thus, emotional investment was a pivotal dimension of group effectiveness. Results extend our understanding of group behavior by acknowledging the relationship between personal and group development while confirming the compelling role of emotions in social exchange.