Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2020

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Business Administration

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Exchanging help with one’s coworkers is essential to survive the demands and pressures of modern organizational life. But individuals have a limited amount of resources to trade for others and thus necessitate to identify reliable exchange partners with whom the exchange can be beneficial. At the same time, individuals have reputations for cooperation to protect that they need to consider in deciding whether and to what extent they should make themselves and their resources available to colleagues. I argue that these evaluations are informed by the structure of the informal exchanges as the individual perceives it, and I examine the consequences of perceptions that over- versus under-estimate the presence of ties within the structure (or network closure) for the perceiver’s status, reputation as an exchange partner, and job performance. This dissertation is composed of three parts. First, I develop an overarching conceptual model that explains how mental representations of networks inform behavior and impact individual outcomes. Second, I apply my overarching conceptual model to understand and compare the consequences of mental representations that over- versus under-estimate closure in cooperation networks. Third, I empirically examine the relationships between network over/under-estimation and individual outcomes with a field study of multiple workgroups. Theoretically, this work contributes to the literature on the consequences of network perceptions in organizations and points to a thus far unrecognized source of advantage in network perceptions: the asymmetric costs of alternative errors. Practically, it identifies the costs to organizational members of misperceiving cooperation in their work environment and the side on which they should try to err in making this type of assessment.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Raymond T. Sparrowe

Committee Members

William P. Bottom, Stuart Bunderson, Andrew P. Knight, Alan P. Lambert,