Social Networks, Networking, and Ethnic Group Membership in a Talent Pool

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 11:30 AM
Room: F203
Oral Presentation
Carolin OSSENKOP , VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands
Claartje J. VINKENBURG , VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands
Even among highly educated professionals, minority ethnics are disadvantaged relative to dominant ethnics in access to organizational resources, power, and rewards. Social capital is an important factor in reproducing such disadvantages, as minority ethnics have less access to and reap fewer benefits from social networks. While the general positive relationship between social capital and career success is well established, limited research has been conducted on how social capital is acquired following organizational entry, and how this process is affected by social group membership in terms of ethnicity and gender. Focusing on the relationship between social capital and social group membership, we collected longitudinal social network data among a diverse talent pool of ten trainees of one of the large urban municipalities in the Netherlands. Data collection started on the first day and continued throughout the first three months of employment. Survey items addressed occasional or recurring contacts based on work-related advice, non-work-related advice, and friendship, resulting in indicators of network size, centrality, and homophily. We followed the development of social capital within the closed network of trainees and their potential open networks with all municipal employees. Also, we conducted semi-structured interviews with each of the trainees after their first year of employment to explore individual networking behavior (building, maintaining, and using social network contacts), and matching career experiences in terms of their access to opportunities and career support. Preliminary analyses suggest differences between dominant and minority group members in terms of network structure, networking behavior, and career experiences. By combining quantitative data on network structure and qualitative data on networking behavior, we address the common critique that focusing on structure and omitting agency fails to enhance our understanding of how practices and behaviors serve in ultimately (re)producing differences in network structures and their consequences.