Social Exchange Theory in the Workplace
Social exchange theory is a model of interpersonal relations. It focuses on the benefits and costs of relationships. The benefits of relationships are often measured in terms of the satisfaction and loyalty of employees. People are motivated to remain loyal and productive if they believe their personal needs and well-being are met. Using this model in the workplace can have significant benefits.
Costs demotivate relationships
The social exchange theory states that people are most likely to stay in relationships when the benefits of them outweigh the costs of staying single. The term “costs” is derived from the idea that people are compelled to trade something of value for the rewards they will derive from the relationship. Costs can be tangible or abstract, immediate or cumulative.
Costs are important in any relationship because they serve as an incentive to pursue the relationship. If the costs are greater than the benefits, then individuals may perceive the exchange as unfair and will not repeat it.
Rewards motivate relationships
According to Social Exchange Theory, people choose relationships based on their cost-benefit analyses. This means that they evaluate relationships based on the value of the rewards they receive and the costs they incur. In other words, they will only perform a behavior when it is likely to produce more rewards than its cost. However, it is important to note that people’s perception of how rewards and costs are weighed varies significantly across different individuals and contexts.
The cost-benefit analysis of relationships also points to how rewards can motivate people to continue a relationship when the cost is higher than the benefit. The costs can be both material and intangible, and they can be instantaneous or cumulative.
Comparison level for alternatives
The Social Exchange Theory suggests that a person’s satisfaction with a relationship is determined by the amount of rewards that he or she feels they receive in the current relationship. In other words, if a person thinks that he or she is not getting enough rewards in a relationship, they will choose to stay in it instead of moving on. This theory is supported by research that indicates that people in relationships may not be completely satisfied with their current relationships.
Researchers have found that people often evaluate the benefits of a relationship by comparing it to the costs and benefits of staying single. This is often referred to as the Comparison Level for Alternatives (CLalt). This concept is based on the idea that people will choose a partner if it is profitable and is likely to give them more satisfaction than a single partner can give.
Evidence for reciprocity in social exchange theory
Evidence for reciprocity in social exchange theory suggests that people respond in kind to the kind deeds done by others. In fact, reciprocity is a primary motivating factor in many human activities. Reciprocity has been studied extensively by psychologists, economists, sociologists, and ethnologists.
Social reciprocity is crucial for health and emotional well-being. It is important at all stages of life and is particularly relevant during the transition to old age, which is a time of high social and health vulnerability. Furthermore, people engage in increasing amounts of proximate social exchange during the transition from regular employment to retirement. Moreover, non-reciprocal social exchange is associated with lower health functioning.
Critiques of social exchange theory
Social exchange theory addresses three basic questions: how do people make relationships work, what factors influence people’s decision-making processes, and do people feel resentment when maintaining relationships? Its roots can be traced back to Homan’s 1958 paper, Social Behavior as Exchange, which contrasted the behavior of individuals with those of institutions.
A criticism of social exchange theory focuses on the failure of the theory’s core rational-choice premise. In particular, it fails to account for the fact that most people are not necessarily rational. In addition, social exchange theory advocates sometimes seek to rehabilitate the homo economicus species as a “plain economic man,” a term which implies that social exchange is driven by economic factors rather than by basic human psychology. Critics of the theory point out that the theory is parasitic on utilitarianism and economic determinism.