The co-evolution of gossip and friendship in workplace social networks
This study investigates the co-evolution of friendship and gossip in organizations. Two contradicting perspectives are tested. The social capital perspective predicts that friendship causes gossip between employees, defined as informal evaluative talking about absent colleagues. The evolutionary perspective reverses this causality claiming that gossiping facilitates friendship. The data comprises of three observations of a complete organizational network, allowing longitudinal social network analyses. Gossip and friendship are modeled as both explanatory and outcome networks with RSiena. Results support the evolutionary perspective in that gossip between two individuals increases the likelihood of their future friendship formation. However, individuals with disproportionately high gossip activity have fewer friends in the network, suggesting that the use of gossiping to attract friends has a limit. âº Friendship does not necessarily facilitate gossip between employees (dyad level). âº Gossip promotes friendship in employee dyads. âº High gossip activity does not increase but decrease an employee's popularity in the network.