Administrative Science Quarterly, Volume 57, Number 3 (September 2012)

Appeasing Equals: Lateral Deference in Organizational Communication
Alison R. Fragale, John J. Sumanth, Larissa Z. Tiedens, and Gregory B. Northcraft
Using archival data on a year of e-mail exchanges at a division of Enron (Study 1) and a field study of
management professionals (Study 2), we explore how the relative hierarchical rank of a message
 sender and a message recipient affects expressions of verbal deference in organizational e-mail
communication. Verbal deference refers to linguistic markers that convey a willingness to yield to
another’s preferences or opinions as a sign of respect or reverence. Although prior research has
focused on upward deference in an organizational hierarchy, from lower-ranked senders to higher-
ranked recipients, we predict and find that the greatest amount of deference is expressed laterally,
between peers of equal or similar rank. Further, lateral deference is most frequently displayed by
those individuals most concerned with preserving their status and rank, confirming that lateral
deference may be used as a status-saving strategy designed to protect individuals from status loss
associated with “overstepping one’s place.”
deference  status  hierarchy  communication
Organizational Misfits and the Origins of Brokerage in Intrafirm Networks
Adam M. Kleinbaum
To extend research on the effects of networks for career outcomes, this paper examines how
career processes shape network structure. I hypothesize that brokerage results from two distinct
mechanisms: links with former coworkers and with friends of friends accumulated as careers unfold.
Furthermore, I hypothesize that “organizational misfits”—people who followed career trajectories
that are atypical in their organization—will have access to more valuable brokerage opportunities
than those whose careers followed more conventional paths. I tested this hypothesis with career
history data recorded longitudinally for 30,000 employees in a large information technology firm
over six years and sequence-analyzed to measure individual-level fit with typical career paths in the
organization. Network position was measured using a unique data set of over 250 million electronic
mail messages. Empirical results support the hypotheses that diverse, and especially atypical, careers
have an effect on brokerage through mechanisms rooted in social capital, even when accounting for
endogeneity between networks and mobility. In theorizing about misfit from prototypical patterns,
this paper offers a new, theory-driven application of sequence-analytic methods as well as a novel
measure of brokerage based on interactions across observable boundaries, a complement to the
structural constraint measure based on interactions across holes in social structure.
social networks  social capital  career mobility  brokerage  identification
How Employees’ Prior Affiliations Constrain Organizational Network
Change: A Study of U.S. Venture Capital and Private Equity
Christopher I. Rider
This paper investigates how organizations’ reliance on employees’ prior educational and employment
affiliations for both employment relationships and interorganizational relationships contributes to
inertia in organizational networks. Analyses of data from U.S. venture capital and private equity firms
support the theory I develop. First, increasing differences in educational prestige decrease both inter
personal co-employment rates and interorganizational co-investment rates. Second, two individuals
who share a prior educational or a prior employment affiliation are more likely to be employed by the
same organization than are two individuals who do not share such an affiliation. Third, the likelihood of
two organizations forming a co-investment relationship increases with the number of prior educational
or employment affiliations shared by their employees. I propose that these tendencies stabilize
advantaged organizations’ positions and limit disadvantaged organizations’ positional mobility, thereby
constraining change in interorganizational networks. Implications for studies of network evolution and
socioeconomic inequality are discussed.
networks  education  employment  affiliation
venture capital  private equity
Opportunity Structures in Established Firms: Entrepreneurship versus
Intrapreneurship in Mutual Funds
Aleksandra J. Kacperczyk
This study revisits the well-established notion that large and mature organizations stifle an employee’s
ability and motivation to become an entrepreneur. Using unique data on U.S. mutual funds founded
between 1979 and 2005, I examine whether large and mature firms, which are typically associated with
lower individual rates of entrepreneurship, are also associated with lower individual rates of intrapreneurship.
The findings show that, though employees in large and mature organizations are less likely to transition
to entrepreneurship, they nonetheless exhibit a higher propensity to pursue venturing opportunities
inside the established firm than employees in smaller and younger firms. The results suggest that the
observed negative effect of large, mature organizations on entrepreneurship arises partly due to high
rates of intrapreneurship and that the stultification processes in such organizations are far less important
than has been generally assumed.