In this paper we analyze and review the theory of relational cohesion and attendant program of research. Since the early 1990s, the theory has evolved to answer a number of basic questions regarding cohesion and commitment in social exchange relations. Drawing from the sociology of emotion and modem theories of social identity, the theory asserts that joint activity in the form of frequent exchange unleashes positive emotions and perceptions of relational cohesion. In turn, relational cohesion is predicted to be the primary cause of commitment behavior in a range of situations. Here we outline the theory of relational cohesion, tracing its development through the present day, and summarize the corpus of empirical evidence for the theory’s claims. We conclude by looking ahead to future projects and discussing some of the more general issues informed by our work.
Industrial and Organizational Psychology Commons, Industrial Organization Commons, Organizational Behavior and Theory Commons, Organization Development Commons, Work, Economy and Organizations Commons