ADVERSE EFFECTS OF COMPETITION WITH COWORKERS: THE ROLE OF THIRD-PARTY TIES
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Employees rely on coworkers for support. Through workflow ties and friendship ties with coworkers, employees acquire task support and emotional support that allows them to be effective in their work. At the same time, employees often find themselves having to compete with those very coworkers for limited rewards and recognition (e.g., bonuses, promotion) that organizations provide. In this dissertation, I delineate the negative effects that competition with coworkers who are closely connected to employees in their workflow and friendship networks has on employees’ task performance. I note that such competition can prevent employees from obtaining critical task and emotional support required to remain effective in their roles. Using a social embeddedness perspective, I further highlight that these negative effects of competition can be avoided when employees and their competitors are connected to third-party peers in their teams who can act as mediators and allow for continued flow of task and emotional support via workflow and friendship ties between employees and their competitors. I test these hypotheses in the field (using a sample of 394 employees embedded in 39 R&D teams) and in two experimental studies (using 694 participants). I will discuss implications of my model for theory and practice.