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Differentiation of Boundary Spanning Roles: Labor Negotiations and Implications for Role Conflict

Raymond A. Friedman and Joel Podolny
Administrative Science Quarterly
Vol. 37, No. 1 (Mar., 1992), pp. 28-47
DOI: 10.2307/2393532
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2393532
Page Count: 20
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Differentiation of Boundary Spanning Roles: Labor Negotiations and Implications for Role Conflict
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Abstract

In this paper we test the hypothesis that boundary spanning is a differentiated function that is not necessarily performed by one person, as assumed in much previous research. Using longitudinal network data collected during labor negotiations, we found that some individuals on the bargaining teams ("representatives") broker ties toward their opponents, while others ("gatekeepers") broker ties from their opponents; and some broker task-oriented ties (measured by flows of advice), while others broker socioemotional ties (measured by flows of trust). Differentiation of trust and advice brokerage roles was strong throughout the negotiations, while differentiation of representative and gatekeeper roles became more distinct as the contract deadline (and increased potential for role conflict) neared. This analytic distinction suggests that role conflict must be examined differently, both conceptually and methodologically, and widens the range of options available for managing potential role conflicts.

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