Social support can have a range of positive outcomes for both employees and organizations. Social support can lead to higher quality relationships, positive affective reactions, and increased individual performance and can buffer the negative effects of stressful demands. The power of social support has led to exponential growth in its investigation as a construct of interest in the workplace. However, this growth has come with several issues, which are the focus of this review. First, the literature is fragmented, with multiple conceptual frameworks employed to predict how social support may function in the workplace. Second, many studies are vague when defining social support, leading to diminished conceptual clarity. Third, there is no generally accepted measure of social support, and we describe problems with the structure and/or use of several commonly used measures. Finally, findings regarding the moderating effect of social support are decidedly mixed, calling into question why this might be so. On the basis of an extensive review of social support at work research, we highlight these issues, discuss how they can impede the advancement of understanding regarding social support in organizational settings, and propose an integrative framework to guide the field forward. Finally, we identify multiple areas for future investigation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Applied Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science
- Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management