Networks are a key source of social capital for achieving goals in professional and personal settings. Yet, despite the clear benefits of having an extensive network, individuals often shy away from the opportunity to create new connections because engaging in instrumental networking can make them feel morally impure. In this article, we explore how the motives people have when engaging in networking impact these feelings and, as result, change how frequently they engage in networking and their job performance. Across a correlational survey study, a laboratory experiment (with samples from the United States and Italy), two online studies, an organizational network survey study, and a field experiment with professionals (total N = 2,551), we examine how self-regulatory focus, whether promotion or prevention, affects people's experience of and outcomes from networking. We find that a promotion focus, as compared to a prevention focus or a control condition, is beneficial to professional networking, as it lowers feelings of moral impurity from instrumental networking. As such, networking with a promotion focus increases the frequency of instrumental networking as compared to a control condition, whereas networking with a prevention focus decreases frequency of instrumental networking as compared to a control condition.
- Regulatory focus
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science