A Structural Perspective on Organizational Cognitions: Attributions of Power, Performance, and Attitudes

Date of Original Version



Working Paper

Abstract or Description

We develop a model of individual’s organizational cognitions (mental models for attitudes and evaluations of self and others in the workplace) that combines structural and cognitive influences. In this model cognition mediates the influence of structure on individual outcomes (attitudes and evaluations). We examine this model using data from a small engineering firm (including social network, attitude, and evaluation information). The results support the model and are consistent with the argument that individuals' structural position and roles constrain their organizational cognitions and so affect their evaluations of themselves and others. Accordingly, supervisors and subordinates both utilize the same information in different ways and utilize different information. Consequently, the organizational cognitions of individuals who occupy different structural positions differ systematically from each other. In particular, supervisors are more likely than subordinates to use external, organizationally validated information in evaluating subordinates; whereas, subordinates’ cognitions are more informed by patterns of friendship.