Social Contagion and Multiplexity Communication Networks as Predictors of Commitment and Role Ambiguity



    1. Rosanne L. Hartman (M.A., State University of New York at Buffalo, 1987) is a graduate student in the Department of Communication at State University of New York at Buffalo.
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    1. J. David Johnson (Ph.D., Michigan State University, 1978) is an Associate Professor at Michigan State University. The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance of Dr. Frank Tutzauer and Mary Beth Eckert in reviewing earlier drafts of this article.
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This research compares two contrasting perspectives of social contagion processes associated with the organizational outcome variables of commitment and role ambiguity in organizations. The two perspectives are structural equivalence (which focuses on the positions of individuals in social networks) and cohesion (which focuses on an individual's direct communication contacts). It was hypothesized that structural equivalence would be more associated with role ambiguity and that commitment would be more associated with cohesion. The relationship between these variables and multiplex content networks was also studied. It was hypothesized that commitment was a much more broadly based concept in the sense that a number of functional content networks systematically relate to it. On the other hand, role ambiguity was hypothesized to be more closely associated with uniplex networks, especially those related to job duties and organizational goals. While there were exceptions, generally the research results supported the hypotheses relating to multiplexity. The hypotheses that structural equivalence was more associated with role ambiguity and that commitment was more associated with cohesion also were supported in this research.