Despite the pivotal role that both power and interpersonal trust play in a multitude of social exchange situations, relatively little is known about their interplay. Moreover, previous theorizing makes competing claims. Do we consider our relatively more powerful exchange partners to be less trustworthy, as rational choice reasoning would suggest? Or do more complex psychological mechanisms lead us to trust them more, as motivated cognition reasoning implies? Extending the latter approach, we develop and empirically test three hypotheses on the interrelation between perceptions of interpersonal trust and power. According to the status value hypothesis, individuals are more likely to befriend those whom they or others perceive as powerful. The status signaling hypothesis states that the friends of people one perceives as powerful will also be seen as powerful. According to the self-monitoring hypothesis, high self-monitors are more likely than low self-monitors to befriend those they or others perceive as powerful. We use multiplex stochastic actor-based models to analyze the co-evolution of trust and power relations among n = 49 employees in a Dutch Youth Care organization. Data covers three waves of a longitudinal sociometric network survey collected over a period of 18 months in the years 2009–2010. In general, we find some support for all three hypotheses, though the effects are weak. Being one of the first organizational field studies on the co-evolution of power and trust, we conclude with discussing the implications of these findings for the study of social exchange processes.
The co-evolution of power and friendship networks in an organization
ALONA LABUN, RAFAEL WITTEK, CHRISTIAN STEGLICH
Network Science , Volume 4 , Issue 03 , September 2016, pp 364 – 384