Beyond Social Exchange Theory: A Theoretical Shift for Mentoring Relationships in the Federal Workplace

Chad Majiros

Abstract


This paper examines the principles of social exchange theory associated with the application of mentoring for knowledge transfer in the federal workplace. Specifically, federal workplace is intended to mean any U.S. government agency defined by bureaucratic processes in its operations. Max Weber’s (1930) comparison of a bureaucracy to an iron cage is both classical and paramount to this discussion. Within the iron cage, Weber posed the further the organization perfects its operation, the more dehumanized the interaction between players (Farganis, 2011). Most important, due to the hierarchical structure and emphasis on career progression associated with the bureaucracy, mentoring relationships are often forged in a knowledge economy. Over time, mastery of skill is supported by a grasp of institutional history and organizational knowledge. Contemporary social work is aptly suited for investigating the barriers to, behavioral elements of, and best practices for fostering effective mentoring relationships in facilitating knowledge transfer between federal employees.

Keywords


Mentoring, mentoring relationships in the federal workplace, social exchange theory, mentoring dynamics, mentoring for knowledge transfer

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