The nature of social exchange between FLMs, employees and senior managers: A social exchange perspective

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


School of Business and Law


Buhusayen, S., Seet, P., & Coetzer, A. (November, 2018). The nature of social exchange between employees, FLMs and senior managers during radical organizational change: A social exchange perspective. In The proceedings of 3rdBusiness Doctoral and Emerging Scholars Conference (p. 63-67). Available https://www.ecu.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/832337/Proceedings-2018-SBL-Conference.pdf


Radical organizational change (ROC) often has a negative impact on employees. The psychological contract between employee and employer is likely to be violated, resulting in a negative work climate. This negatively impacts employees and puts pressure on first -line managers (FLMs) to achieve the required outcomes for change planned by senior managers. FLMs assume a central role because they are intermediaries between those initiating the change and those implementing it at the operational level. The FLMs are expected to manage the current operations as normal, and simultaneously facilitate the radical change requirements. As these circumstances of dual expectations suggest, the FLM needs considerable relational expertise in which they need to build social exchanges with employees and senior managers. This paper discusses the one of the research questions of my PhD, i.e. the nature of social exchange between employees, FLMs and senior managers from the perspective of social exchange theory (SET). SET is a series of interactions between two or more individuals through which they create expectations of one another by attaching values to these expectations. Meekers’ rules of social exchange helped to develop an understanding of the nature of social exchange betweenemployees, FLMs and senior managers. These rules encompass factors that stimulate individuals to enter into social exchange. I conducted forty semi-structured interviews. The preliminary findings suggests that employees have a high levels of social exchange with the FLMs, underpinned by high reciprocity and rational reasons, while social exchanges with senior managers are constrained the status and power differentials.

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