Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

Outcome Linkage in Formal & Supervisory Mentoring in a Business Organization

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

Outcome Linkage in Formal & Supervisory Mentoring in a Business Organization

Article excerpt


The impact of mentoring on protege career was found to be stronger when comparing "mentored versus non-mentored" individuals, as opposed to the mentoring functions provided to proteges alone (Allen, 2004).Therefore, mentoring functions may be stated to be a necessary but not a sufficient condition for establishing the existence of a mentoring relationship. As mentoring functions/roles focus on what a mentor does rather than what a mentee feels there are little distinction across studies with regard to the implications of being in a mentoring relationship (relational mentoring) versus receiving mentoring function (traditional mentoring functions). The mentoring literature is yet to examine the relational processes that drive the formation of high-quality mentoring relationships that are potentially more impactful and are fundamentally different from average relationships (Ragins & Fletcher, 2007). This makes the study relevant in business organizations. The study examines mentoring - outcome linkage in respect of a large manufacturing organization, particularly with respect to the factors in the mentoring process, linked to the goals, content and nature of the relationship, that may impact mentoring outcomes.

In this study, the mentoring process has been examined both in formal and supervisory mentoring programs. We felt it important to examine the process of supervisory mentoring in order to investigate, if they are likely to impact outcomes other than the psychosocial support e.g., friendship found in earlier studies, and also clarify the fundamental debate that supervisors cannot be mentors. This study tries to derive process explanations as to why mentoring would lead to its outcomes. Despite the amount of mentoring research, few studies have examined processes through which supervisors direct their subordinate mentoring relationships. Based on prior mentoring research, one could extrapolate that a mentor-protege relationship between a supervisor and subordinate may result in positive outcomes, but the same needs to be tested.

Whether the mentoring process has contributed to the protege 'significant transition', could be best ascertained by examining the factors in the mentor-protege relationship process that may have caused such outcomes. Further a 'relationship-rich' environment necessitates examining interdependent work and non-work relationships that contribute to one's growth (Ramaswami & Dreher, 2010).

The study is therefore designed to answer two research questions

1. What are the factors in the process of mentoring in both formal and supervisory mentoring that may influence the quality of relationship?

2. Why are the underlying processes in mentor-mentee interactions different for different types of developmental relationships such as formal and supervisory mentoring?

We expect our study to theoretically integrate mentoring theory with theory on superior subordinate relationships. This investigation is important to academicians and practitioners for three reasons. First, this investigation extends prior mentoring research through examination of the underlying factors that influence the mentoring process--outcome linkages. Second, little research to date has examined the dynamics of supervisor to subordinate mentoring relationship. Thirdly, there are no comparisons of the dynamics of the supervisory with formal mentoring relationship.

Literature Review

Mentorship traditionally refers to collaboration between two individuals (not necessarily in a hierarchical relationship), where one facilitates the professional development of the other, with the intent of optimizing work performance and enhancing career progress (Scandura, 1992; Allen & Poteet, 1999). Mentoring is a process of transferring specific knowledge from the mentor to the protege (Hendrikse, 2003).

While several definitions of mentoring have been provided, in the past research, mentoring definitions mostly emphasized career functions, "helped you by supporting your career" (Aryee, Lo & Kang, 1999: 568) or "looks out for you, or gives you advice"(Wallace, 2001: 374) the phrase "is committed to providing upward mobility and support" to the protege's career (e. …

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