Does where you stand depend on who you behave? Networking behavior as an alternative explanation for gender differences in network structure

I. Gremmen, A. Akkerman, Y. Benschop

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The purpose of this study is to gain insight into the relations between gender, networking behavior and network structure, in order to investigate the relevance of gender for organizational networks. Semi-structured interviews with 39 white, Dutch, women and men account managers were analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively. Our study's results show that the men account managers employ exchange and affect-based trust networking and, to a lesser extent, authoritative networking, whereas the women account managers employ affect-based trust and also use exchange. Authoritative networking appears to foster higher status ties, exchange networking behavior fosters lower status ties and affect-based trust networking fosters equal status ties. Gender differences in network structure may be explained by networking behavior rather than by gender. Our study is limited by the size of our group of respondents (n = 39). A larger sample is needed to test hypotheses concerning the relations between networking behavior, network structure and gender in a more rigorous manner than our study allowed. However, our research material enabled us to test these relations in a sound, be it preliminary way. Our study suggests to focus less on gender as a demographic bivariate category to explain gender differences in network structures and outcomes. In so doing, organizational network research will gain more insight into how gender expectations are negotiated in networking. In organizational practice, this will support organization members to employ the diversity of networking behaviors necessary to generate optimal network structures and outcomes. While most organizational network research focuses on network structures, we introduce the relational process of fostering network relations as central to women's and men's networking behavior. Networking behavior may have greater explanatory power for differences in network structure, than gender as a demographic, bivariate variable. Copyright © 2013 Cambridge University Press and Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-313
JournalJournal of Management & Organization
Issue number03
Early online date18 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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