Social scientists have devoted considerable attention to the so-called "informal" activities found in industrial concerns. The impetus was provided by the Hawthorne studies of Elton Mayo and his colleagues. These studies demonstrated that workers tend to form informal groups whose norms become binding to the group members.
. . . It cannot be denied that the informal activities of nonlaborers in industry--of professionals and managers--have been largely omitted from consideration.1 Equally neglected are the long range effects of informal relationships between persons in a work situation: Is contact maintained between the informal group members after they have left? And, if so, what is the nature of these contacts and what functions are served? This paper addresses itself to this neglected area, especially in regard to professionals. Its focus is a phenomenon which is well known, but which has not been systematically studied. The phenomenon is the practice, largely on the part of professionals, of keeping in touch with colleagues with whom they worked at one time or another. The contact which is maintained may be quite sporadic--an annual Christmas card or a chance meeting at a professional convention may be the extent of it. Apparently the persons thus keeping in contact are not necessarily close friends; they may not have had intimate working relationships when they were employed in the same company. But they did have "informal contact," and this is being maintained. It is suggested that in some professions--such as engineering and academic teaching--individuals thus establish themselves in nationwide "networks of contacts."
One utilization of these contacts occurs when the individual seeks a new job. If engineer "A" has his eye on working for company "X"