Publication Date

2015

Abstract

We examine how demographic context influences the trust that boundary spanners experience in their dyadic relationships with clients. Because of the salience of age as a demographic characteristic as well as the increasing prevalence of age diversity and intergenerational conflict in the workplace, we focus on team age diversity as a demographic social context that affects trust between boundary spanners and their clients. Using social categorization theory and theories of social capital, we develop and test our contextual argument that a boundary spanner’s experience of being trusted is influenced by the social categorization processes that occur in dyadic interactions with a specific client and simultaneously, by similar social categorization processes that influence the degree to which the client team as a whole serves as a cooperative resource for demographically similar versus dissimilar boundary spanner-client dyads. Using a sample of 167 senior boundary spanners from the consulting industry, we find that generational diversity among client team members from a client organization undermines the perception of being trusted within homogeneous boundary spanner-client dyads while it enhances the perception of being trusted within heterogeneous dyads. The perception of being trusted is an important aspect of cross-boundary relationships because it influences coordination and the costs associated with coordination.

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Required Publisher Statement
© Wiley. Final version published as: Williams, M. (2015). Being trusted: How team generational age diversity promotes and undermines trust in cross-boundary relationships. Journal of Organizational Behavior. Advance online publication.
DOI: 10.1002/job.2045
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Suggested Citation
Williams, M. (2015). Being trusted: How team generational age diversity promotes and undermines trust in cross-boundary relationships [Electronic version]. Retrieved [insert date] from Cornell University, ILR school site: http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/articles/951

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