Center on Race and Social Problems

Perceptions of Organizational Support, Social Identity, and Reciprocation Wariness: A Study of African-American Managers

Principal Investigator(s): 
January 1, 2003 to January 1, 2004

This project involved a web-based survey to explore the nature of perceptions of organizational support in a sample of African American employees. The focus of the project was to begin to understand the nature of perceived support within a demographic group that has typically been ignored within this area of research. A web-based survey of previous participants in the African American Leadership Institute held by the Anderson School at UCLA served as the primary sample for this pilot study. The web survey was designed and administered by the University Center for Social and Urban Research (UCSUR.) The web survey included measures of perceived support, felt obligation, reciprocation wariness, and experience with discrimination. It also included several outcomes measures (organizational commitment, organizational citizenship, job satisfaction, work alienation.)

A series of research assistants were employed to coordinate between the University of Pittsburgh and the Anderson School and to assist in verifying email addresses for our sample. In addition, we had initial agreement from two organizations with a large African American employee population for distribution of our survey. While a target of 300 total participants, our pilot project collected a total of 153 responses to date from managers across the country. We received an adequate response from our leadership institute alumni; however concerns expressed by the two organizations prevented wider distribution as we planned. Nonetheless, our sample size is sufficient for analysis based on this pilot project and to test our proposed model.

Currently, data analysis of the responses is underway. We plan to prepare two papers for publication based on the results of this analysis. The first paper focuses on predictors and outcomes of perceived organizational support within this sample of African American managers. The target for completion of this paper is this fall (2005). Our second paper will explore experience with discrimination and other career issues that help to explain the outcomes for African Americans in organizations. This paper will be prepared and submitted during the spring (2006). We also are exploring a larger proposal for possible external funding of a book on career issues among African Americans in management. Our initial target is the Russell Sage Foundation which makes decisions in November and in June. A plan will be developed after the initial data analysis has been completed this fall.