Social Support and Career Optimism: Examining the Effectiveness of Network Groups Among Black Managers

Human Relations, Vol. 51, No. 9, 1998

23 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2006

See all articles by Ray Friedman

Ray Friedman

Vanderbilt University - Organizational Behavior

Melinda D. Kane

University of Texas at Dallas - Department of Sociology

Daniel B. Cornfield

Vanderbilt University - Sociology Department

Abstract

As companies look for better ways to manage diversity, one of the approaches that is emerging is the use of female and minority network groups. These groups are not well understood, and there has been no quantitative analysis of their impact on minority employees. Social network theory suggests that network groups should enhance the social resources available to women and minorities and in that way enhance their chance of career success, but some critics of network groups suggest that backlash might produce greater social isolation and discrimination. In this paper, we analyze a survey of members of the National Black MBA Association to find out whether network groups have a positive impact on career optimism, what specific effects of these groups are most beneficial, and whether groups enhance isolation or discrimination. Results indicate that network groups have a positive overall impact on career optimism of Black managers, and that this occurs primarily via enhanced mentoring. Network groups have no effect on discrimination, either positive or negative. There are some indications of greater isolation, but also some indications of greater contact with Whites.

Keywords: career, race, networks,diversity,black

Suggested Citation

Friedman, Raymond A. and Kane, Melinda D. and Cornfield, Daniel B., Social Support and Career Optimism: Examining the Effectiveness of Network Groups Among Black Managers. Human Relations, Vol. 51, No. 9, 1998, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=937946

Raymond A. Friedman (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Organizational Behavior ( email )

401 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203
United States
615-322-3992 (Phone)
615-343-7177 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://mba.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/rfriedman.cfm

Melinda D. Kane

University of Texas at Dallas - Department of Sociology ( email )

Richardson, TX 75083
United States

Daniel B. Cornfield

Vanderbilt University - Sociology Department ( email )

2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37240
United States

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