Being Trusted: How Team Generational Age Diversity Promotes and Undermines Trust in Cross-Boundary Relationships
We examine how demographic context influences the trust that boundary spanners experience in their dyadic relationships with clients. Because of the salience of age as a demographic characteristic as well as the increasing prevalence of age diversity and intergenerational conflict in the workplace, we focus on team age diversity as a demographic social context that affects trust between boundary spanners and their clients. Using social categorization theory and theories of social capital, we develop and test our contextual argument that a boundary spanner’s experience of being trusted is influenced by the social categorization processes that occur in dyadic interactions with a specific client and simultaneously, by similar social categorization processes that influence the degree to which the client team as a whole serves as a cooperative resource for demographically similar versus dissimilar boundary spanner-client dyads. Using a sample of 167 senior boundary spanners from the consulting industry, we find that generational diversity among client team members from a client organization undermines the perception of being trusted within homogeneous boundary spanner-client dyads while it enhances the perception of being trusted within heterogeneous dyads. The perception of being trusted is an important aspect of cross-boundary relationships because it influences coordination and the costs associated with coordination.
being trusted; boundary spanners; social categorization; age diversity; age heterogeneity; age composition
Required Publisher Statement: © Wiley. Final version published as: Williams, M. (2015). Being trusted: How team generational age diversity promotes and undermines trust in cross-boundary relationships. Journal of Organizational Behavior. Advance online publication. DOI: 10.1002/job.2045Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.