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Making Old Friends

Making Old Friends: The Causes and Consequences of Maintaining Former Coworker Relationships 

Ian J. Walsh, Daniel S. Halgin, and Zhi Huang 

In this paper, we seek to recast scholarly thinking about workplace relationships by exploring their lasting value. Drawing on a two-wave survey study, we find that ties with former coworkers have a positive relationship with individuals’ social integration into new workplaces. We further explore why individuals maintain such ties, focusing on the effects of being hired and employed at particular points in time. Age at hire has an inverted curvilinear relationship with the number of relationships one maintains, with a peak that corresponds with the midlife transition. We find that length of tenure, and the extent to which it involves the midlife transition, is positively related to the maintenance of ties to former coworkers. Organizational growth at the time of hire has a positive effect on relationship maintenance and reduces the influence of age at hire. Change in profit margin during one’s tenure has a positive effect on tie maintenance. Lastly, the positive effect of employment during the midlife transition is enhanced by employment growth during one’s tenure. These findings draw attention to the temporal dynamics of workplace relationships, providing support for the notion that when ties form and take root shapes the extent to which they survive. 

life cycle, social integration, socialization, time, workplace relationships, AMD

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