Author(s), Title and Publication
Myers, S. A., Cranmer, G. A., Goldman, Z. W., Sollitto, M., Gillen, H. G., & Ball, H. (2018). Differences in information seeking among organizational peers: Perceptions of appropriateness, importance, and frequency. International Journal of Business Communication, 55(1), 30-43. doi:10.1177/2329488415573928
For many employees, seeking information revolves around obtaining seven types of information they deem useful for performing their jobs. Three of them—technical, referent, and appraisal—focus on the information employees need to succeed in their jobs. The remaining four types of information—social, normative, organizational, and political—aid employees in learning about the nuances of their work and their workplace. Because seeking information from peer coworkers is often more efficient than seeking information from other sources, many workers rely on their work peers to obtain workplace information. Three types of peers exist in the organization: information peers (primarily share information about work-related tasks and their organization, but provide little feedback or emotional support); collegial peers (communicate about mutual work and familial concerns, provide each other with work-related feedback, and are characterized by moderate levels of intimacy, trust, and self-disclosure); and special peers (communicate about work and familial concerns, provide emotional support, personal and work-related feedback, friendship, and high levels of intimacy, trust, and self-disclosure). The authors of this study examined whether organizational employees differ in the perceived appropriateness, importance, and frequency of seeking information from information, collegial, and special peers. Researchers collected data through a survey and recruited 229 participants.
The results indicated that when it comes to obtaining essential work information, employees consider it more appropriate to seek technical information from special peers than from either collegial or information peers; they consider it more important to seek technical, referent appraisal, and social information from special peers rather than from either collegial or information peers; and they seek technical, referent, appraisal, and social information more frequently from special peers than from either collegial or information peers. Additionally, the authors found that employees consider it more appropriate to seek referent, appraisal, and social information from special peers rather than from information peers. When it comes to obtaining information about the organization, employees consider it to be more important to seek normative, organizational, and political information from special peers rather than collegial peers, and they also seek normative and organizational information more frequently from special peers than form collegial peers.
Implications for Practice
Organizations should (1) consider implementing procedures aimed at assisting employees with the process of seeking information, (2) consider instituting socialization practices or implementing socialization activities that encourage the facilitation and development of peer relationships, and (3) strive to develop an innovative, cohesive and pressure-free workplace climate that provide employees with both the ability and the opportunity to build high-quality relationships with their work peers.
Location of Article
This article is available online at: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2329488415573928 (abstract free, purchase full article)