License to Broker: How Mobility Eliminates Gender Gaps in Network Advantage

Conditionally Accepted to Administrative Science Quarterly

93 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2020 Last revised: 5 Dec 2023

See all articles by Evelyn Zhang

Evelyn Zhang

Frankfurt School of Finance and Management; Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University

Brandy Aven

Carnegie Mellon University

Adam M. Kleinbaum

Tuck School of Business; Dartmouth College

Date Written: December 1, 2023

Abstract

Brokerage in intra-organizational networks is critical to performance; yet women exhibit less brokerage in their social networks and receive lower performance returns to the brokerage they do exhibit than men. We uncover a condition under which the gender gaps in network advantage are entirely negated: mobility grants women license to broker. When women move between units of the organization, they increase their brokerage more than mobile men and, further, such mobility eliminates the gender gap in returns to brokerage. Using a rich dataset including the personnel records, monthly performance, and email communications of thousands of employees within a large financial institution, we find support for our arguments by comparing networks and objective performance of those who changed jobs with matched non-movers prior to and following each job change. In probing why this might be the case, we find that women movers are more likely to maintain communication ties to colleagues from their previous roles; and that these persistent ties give them a discernible and gender-role congruent explanation for connecting otherwise disconnected units and, therefore, benefiting from network brokerage. Our results illuminate important mechanisms by which social network dynamics and mobility affect gender inequality and performance in organizations.

Keywords: Communication Networks, Intra-organizational Mobility, Gender, Situational Licenses, Network Brokerage

Suggested Citation

Zhang, Evelyn and Aven, Brandy and Kleinbaum, Adam M., License to Broker: How Mobility Eliminates Gender Gaps in Network Advantage (December 1, 2023). Conditionally Accepted to Administrative Science Quarterly, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3692599 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3692599

Evelyn Zhang (Contact Author)

Frankfurt School of Finance and Management ( email )

Adickesallee 32-34
Frankfurt am Main, 60322
Germany

Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University

Singapore, 639798
Singapore

Brandy Aven

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
6503059466 (Phone)
15213 (Fax)

Adam M. Kleinbaum

Tuck School of Business ( email )

Hanover, NH
United States

HOME PAGE: http://bit.ly/kleinbaum

Dartmouth College ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States

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