Network Intervention: Assessing the Effects of Formal Mentoring on Workplace Networks

Forthcoming in Social Forces

Posted: 17 Jul 2013 Last revised: 23 Jul 2015

See all articles by Sameer B. Srivastava

Sameer B. Srivastava

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business

Date Written: January 1, 2015


This article assesses the effects of formal mentoring on workplace networks. It also provides conceptual clarity and empirical evidence on expected gender differences in the effects of such programs. Qualitative interviews with 40 past participants in a formal mentoring program at a software laboratory in Beijing, China provided insight into the core mechanisms by which such programs produce network change: access to organizational elites, participation in semiformal foci, enhanced social skills, and legitimacy-enhancing signals. These mechanisms are theorized to lead to an expansion in protégés’ networks, relative to those of non-participants in formal mentoring. Legitimacy-enhancing signals are theorized to enable female protégés to derive greater network benefit from formal mentoring than their male counterparts. Empirical support for these propositions came from a longitudinal quasi-experiment involving 75 employees who experienced the treatment of formal mentoring and 64 employees in a matched control group. A second empirical strategy, which exploited exogenous variation in the timing of treatment and enabled a comparison of the post-program networks of one treated group to the pre-program networks of another treated group, provided corroborating support. These findings contribute to research on the efficacy of formal mentoring, gender and workplace networks, and the cumulative advantage or disadvantage that can arise from network change.

Keywords: formal mentoring, field experiment, social networks, gender

Suggested Citation

Srivastava, Sameer B., Network Intervention: Assessing the Effects of Formal Mentoring on Workplace Networks (January 1, 2015). Forthcoming in Social Forces. Available at SSRN: or

Sameer B. Srivastava (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
510-643-5922 (Phone)


Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics

Under construction: SSRN citations will be offline until July when we will launch a brand new and improved citations service, check here for more details.

For more information