Informal social networks, and by extension informal communications, are ubiquitous in organizational settings. A majority of studies on informal social networks have expressed the need to examine in-depth these networks due their impact on the overall organizational performance. Some scholars view them as beneficial while other scholars believe that they represent the dark side of the organization. Despite the contrasting beliefs, scholars across the divide agree that informal networks are a powerful aspect of the organization. Previous literature on informal networks, especially focusing on gossip and rumors, posit that drawbacks are more prevalent than benefits. However, the impact of these gossip and rumors on employee productivity remains unclear. Likewise, existing studies do not address the role of culture within the informal social networks. Therefore, the present study investigated the impact of informal social networks on employee productivity in Kenyan organizations. Given that a majority of the conversations within the networks involve gossiping, which sometimes is confused with spreading rumors (Dunbar, 2004), the first section of study quantitatively examines whether employee gossip and rumor, independently, predict their productivity, while the second section qualitatively investigates the role of culture within social networks as well as the benefits and/or limitations associated with these networks. The results indicated that gossip and rumors lead to improved productivity among employees. Further, results found that Kenyan culture influenced the types of messages as well as how these messages were shared within the networks.
Gossip, Rumor, Employee Productivity, Social Exchange Theory, Culture
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Student, Communication, United States