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Discussion

In this chapter, we examine network associations within two bank branches. Initial QAP results for the two bank branches provide measures of entrainment processes, but not of exchange processes or other network effects that can take actor attributes into consideration. In contrast, multivariate ERGMs were conducted for each bank branch separately, including actor attributes, entrainment, and exchange effects, as well as a range of other network processes. The relational networks of the High- and Low-AS branches differed in several ways with respect to both within- and cross-network effects. Interestingly, in the low-density branch, there is evidence for some closure processes among advice-giving ties, but not among satisfaction ties; however, the reverse is found in the high-density branch. Furthermore, there is significant reciprocity for satisfaction in the Low- but not the High-AS branch. Both branches display tendencies for out-degree centralization. Multivariately, employees in the Low-AS bank exchange advice giving and satisfaction, whereas the High- AS bank is characterized by a strong and significant entrainment of advice giving and satisfaction. In other words, receiving advice is associated with satisfaction at the Low-AS branch, whereas giving advice is satisfying in the High-AS bank. In the Low-AS bank, giving advice only seems to be associated with satisfaction to employees if it is directed toward senior staff.

We began this study by asking whether there is evidence for the alignment of advice-giving and satisfaction ties in our two cases, representing high- and low-density networks. Although we see entrainment in both bank branches, it differs slightly between them. In the low-density branch, entrainment occurs when the multiplex tie is directed toward the senior staff. In this branch, being asked for advice by management is associated with satisfaction. The low density suggests that individual actors are more discriminating in this branch in how they assess satisfaction and to whom they disburse advice. In these circumstances, ties to managers may take on increased importance. Nevertheless, in these circumstances of more selective advice, advice givers are viewed as satisfying associates. In the higher-density network, advice is given more freely, and working relationships tend to be more satisfying. Here, however, giving advice is satisfying for the advice giver, but not necessarily for the receiver, so the abundance of advice may not necessarily mean that it always hits its mark. In this branch, managers tend not to be recipients of advice, so the impression is of a network in which much of the advice action occurs at more junior levels.

The results illustrate how different contexts can lead to different arrangements of social ties. It is reasonable to assume that the network effects that adequately represent one context may not necessarily capture the social networks of different contexts. Unfortunately, we have limited information on these two bank branches to shed more light on why these differences are apparent, and the information we do have suggests many similarities between them, including in branch performance as measured by the bank. Although this limits the generalizability of this particular case study, it does emphasize the need for researchers to be sensitive to possible differences in context, and to seek observations and measures that might help explain differences in results. It seems that in our study we may be dealing with two different organizational subcultures. In one, advice and satisfaction are freely given and received; in the other, there is more selectivity and discrimination about advice and satisfaction. In terms of informal organizational structures, these different subcultures seem to play out in subtle ways that affect how satisfaction and advice are intertwined. They also implicate rather different roles for senior branch management in that process.

 
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