Dr. Yevgen Bogodistov

University of Applied Sciences Neu-Ulm (Germany)

Moritz Botts

European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder) (Germany)



Since its introduction in 1991 by anthropologist Alan Fiske, the relational models theory (RMT) has become one of the most prominent theories explaining human relationships[8]. This theory was introduced to social psychology in 1992, shedding light on aspects of social relations such as generation, interpretation, coordination, and evaluation of social interactions [5]. For example, RMThas been applied to questions of trust in institutions [3] connecting the issues of trust with a prevailing relational model [10]. Recent research in management suggests that relational models are a moderator which explains efficiency, team congruence, and even dynamic capabilities of organizations [1].

Relational models theory proposes four elementary models of relationships: CS or communal sharing (family-like relationships, where parties share common value and focus on groups commonalities); EM or equality matching (friendship-like relationship, where parties rely on fair exchange and reciprocal interactions); AR or authority ranking (linear of hierarchical relationships, where one of the parties enjoys leading positions, whereas the other party obeys); and, MP or market pricing (relationships based on exact calculations of invested time and effort and the according relational interactions) [6].

The study of Bogodistov and Botts (forthcoming) [1] was made in the non-profit domain (military units) but the results of the study might be generalizable for the for-profit organizations since military units are to some extent predecessors of the known management and organizational structures [11]. The researchers focused on the two relational models that were most appropriate for the military domain, namely the EM and AR models. The recent study is a follow-up research attempting to explain how and why certain relational models has developed in military units (research question. Sheppard and Sherman [10] propose trust as the key explanatory variable for relational models. We assume that this relationships might be moderated by: first, the task instability, since in uncertain conditions people might rely on relatively stable relational models; and, second, by the pleasantness, since people are able to switch between different relational models if they find certain model problematic or uncomfortable.

In order to find an answer to the mentioned research question we performed a quantitative survey (questionnaire) with 70 soldiers who at the moment of the study were actively engaged in anti-terrorist operation (ATO) in the East of Ukraine. During the preparation of the analysis we made a translation of the Haslam and Fiske relational models questionnaire (Haslam and Fiske, 1999) and of NATOs questionnaire CTEF 2.0: Assessment and Improvement of Command Team Effectiveness (Essens et al., 2010) into the Russian language. The Russian version of the questionnaire was back translated into English and checked for consistency by a native speaker. Both versions of the questionnaire (original and the back translated one) showed no significant differences in meaning and were recognized to be equal.

Our dependent variables were the EM and AR models in relationships with the manager (commander). The variables were the result of the aggregation of Likert-based measurements to two corresponding supervariables, whereby the items with loadings below 0.6 were deleted. Our independent variables were trust, pleasantness of relationships and the task instability. Trust was a self-developed measurement based on 7-point Likert scales containing three items. The Cronbachs alphas for the aggregated constructs were 0.913 for EM, 0.882 for AR, and 0.842 for trust. The two proposed moderators the pleasantness and the instability of tasks were measured using single item scales: the self-assessment manikin (SAM) as proposed by Bradley and Lang (1994) for pleasantness and the task-instability scale from the CTEF 2.0 questionnaire (Essens et al., 2010). Both scales were dichotomized for the purposes of the study. We also controlled for age and time spent in the ATO.

In order to make the analysis we decided to use the ANOVA/MANOVAmethod. Prior to conducting the MANOVA, we conducted a Boxs M value test. It produced the value of 19.017 (p = .044), which was interpreted as non-significant based on Huberty and Petoskeys [9] guideline (i.e., p < .005). Thus the covariance matrices between the groups were assumed to be equal for the purposes of the MANOVA.A statistically significant MANOVA effect was obtained, Pillais Trace = .219, F (2, 61) = 8.541, p = .001 for the trust, and Pillais Trace = .157, F (2, 61) = 5.688, p =.005 for the time in the ATO zone. Other variables did not produce direct significant results. The multivariate effect size was estimated at .158 and .157 respectively, which implies that 15.8% and 15.7% of the variance on the canonically derived dependent variable was accounted for by trust and time spent in ATO. Also the task instability produced no significant effects neither directly nor as moderator, the pleasantness played a moderating role: Pillais Trace = .097, F (2, 61) = 3.283, p =.044. This finding supports our assumption that pleasantness of the relations with the commander moderate the relationship between trust and the preferred relational model. 9.7% of variance in the dependent variable is explained by the interaction of pleasantness and trust.

Prior to conducting a series of follow up ANOVAs, the homogeneity of variance for the three relational models was tested. Based on a series of Levenes tests, the homogeneity of variance assumption was considered satisfied (EM: F (3, 66) = 2.950, p = .039; AR: F (3, 66) = 1.579, p = .203). We found that low pleasantness strongly reduces effects of trust on the preference of the EM model (negative moderation) B = -.679, p = .013, whereas this relationship was not significant for the AR model. Trust, on the contrary, played a significant and positive role for the AR model (B = .346, p = .023), whereas no significant relationship for the EM model was found. Age played a weakly significant role for the EM model preference (B = -.026, p = .095). Time in ATO has a small but significant impact on the AR model preference (B = .059, p = .001).

We interpret our findings as follows. Authority ranking is a model which needs a linear type of relationships. This model is, however, not always a reflection of a formal organizational structure. In many cases, even in relationships with managers (commanders), a different type of relational models is preferred. As has been shown elsewhere, different relational models suit different organizational needs. Trust proved to be important in the preference of the AR model. Probably, soldiers stick to this model both in their formal and informal communication if they trust and feel trusted by the commander. Otherwise they prefer other models of relationships. EM or friendship-like fairness-based relationship are dependent on the feelings of the soldier in the relationships. Feeling happy positively impacts the preference for the EM model in relationships with the manager (commander). Although we did not make any assumptions concerning the influence of the time spent in the ATO, we would like to emphasize its role. Probably time spent together with a commander helps in establishing trust which, in turn, positively impacts the AR model. We would like to stress the necessity of further research in this field.


List of references:

1. Bogodistov Y., Botts M., 2016 (forthcoming). Dynamic capabilities in extremely dynamic environments: Where competitive advantage equals lives. Presented at the 76th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, Anaheim, CA.

2. BradleyM.M., LangP.J., 1994. Measuring emotion: The self-assessment manikin and the semantic differential. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 25, 4959.

3. Earle T. C., Cvetkovich G., 2013. Social Trust and Culture in Risk Management, in: Cvetkovich G., LofstedtR.E. (Eds.), Social Trust and the Management of Risk. Routledge. Earle T. C., Cvetkovich G., 1997. Culture, cosmopolitanism, and risk management. Risk Analysis 17, 5565.

4. EssensP., VogelaarA., MylleJ., BaranskiJ., GoodwinG., Van BuskirkW., BerggrenP., HofT., 2010. CTEF 2.0Assessment and Improvement of Command Team Effectiveness: Verification of Model and Instrument, 121123.

5. Fiske A. P., 1992. The four elementary forms of sociality: Framework for a unified theory of social relations. Psychol Rev 99, 689723.

6. Fiske A. P., 1991. Structures of social life: The four elementary forms of human relations: Communal sharing, authority ranking, equality matching, market pricing. Free Press, 1500.

7. Haslam N., 2004. Relational models theory: a contemporary overview. Psychology Press, 1373.

8. Haslam, N., Fiske, A.P., 1999. Relational models theory: a confirmatory factor analysis. Personal Relationships 6, 241250.

9. Huberty, C.J., Petoskey, M.D., 2000. Multivariate analysis of variance and covariance.Handbook of applied multivariate statistics and mathematical modeling, 183-208.

10. Sheppard, B.H., Sherman, D.M., 1998. The grammars of trust: A model and general implications. Academy of management Review 23, 422437.

11. Talbot, P.A., 2003. Management organisational history - a military lesson? Journal of European Industrial Training 27, 330340.