Date of Degree

9-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Psychology

Advisor

Kristin Sommer

Committee Members

Charles Scherbaum

Harold Goldstein

Wei Wang

Julie Dinh

Subject Categories

Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Abstract

Networking is a critical yet potentially underutilized career self-management strategy. The purpose of this dissertation was to explore the extent to which novel reading and writing exercises could foster networking motivation and network use. The first set, based on Social-Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT), was designed to increase participants’ confidence about their ability to engage in effective networking, and help them believe that networking is a valuable activity. The second set, based on Goal-Setting Theory (GST), was designed to help participants practice setting effective career development objectives and networking goals linked to those objectives. The Networking Information Control (NIC) condition was designed to provide information about networking. The Career Self-Management Control (CSMC) condition was designed to provide information about effective career development and career self-management strategies other than networking. To explore the effectiveness of these intervention materials on networking motivation and network use, 113 students from an east-coast, urban, public university completed a field experiment with three measurement timepoints. At baseline (T1), they completed measures of four understudied constructs: networking self-efficacy, networking outcome expectations, networking plans, and networking intentions; they also completed measures of individual differences, and of their recent use of network contacts. A week later (T2), they were randomly assigned to complete one of the four sets of materials. Participants again completed measures of networking self-efficacy, networking outcome expectations, networking plans, and networking intentions. Three weeks later (T3), participants again completed measures of their recent use of network contacts. The SCCT and GST materials were expected to be more effective than the NIC or CSMC materials at fostering networking motivation and network use. Results revealed that participants in the SCCT condition reported greater networking intentions at T2 than participants who completed the NIC materials. However, no support was found for other predictions. The study was limited by the fact that the study focused on networking during the COVID-19 pandemic, which likely curtailed normal networking activities. Contributions of the research include the development of new measures of networking motivation, and four novel networking intervention modules, which can facilitate future research on how to foster networking motivation and network use.

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