According to a study, people who have more power in the office are less likely to report feeling “dirty” when it comes to frequent networking.
On the contrary, those with less power like middle-level workers feel tainted by it – even though they need it the most – and may have a harder time advancing themselves or improving their job performance.
“Those already in power are more comfortable with networking and continue to reinforce and advance their positions,” said Tiziana Casciaro, associate professor of organisational behaviour from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.
“Professional networking can create feelings of moral impurity and physical dirtiness,” Casciaro added.
These emotions can hold people back from networking more, thereby reducing career opportunities and lowering job performance.
“People feel that they cannot justify their actions to themselves and the lack of justification comes from the difficulty people have in framing some forms of networking motivated by a concern for other people versus a selfish concern,” Casciaro explained.
Those negative feelings can be overcome when people start to see networking as being about more than just themselves.
The findings were based on several laboratory experiments in addition to a study of lawyers at a large North American legal firm.
The study is to be published in the journal Administrative Science Quarterly.