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Koster, F. (2005). For the Time Being: Accounting for Inconclusive Findings Concerning the Effects of Temporary Employment Relationships on Solidary Behavior of Employees. Groningen University, PhD Thesis

PhD Programme in Solidarity at Work
Interuniversity Center for Social Science Theory and Methodology (ICS)

Doctoraat in de
Psychologische, Pedagogische en Sociologische Wetenschappen
aan de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

Supervisors: Prof. dr. K. Sanders, Prof. dr. W. Raub, Prof. dr. F.N. Stokman

April 2005


Is there a tension between solidary behavior of employees and temporary employment relationships within modern organizations? Research into the effects of temporary employment relationships on employee behavior has rendered inconclusive results. Some researchers argue that temporary employees will show less solidarity because of their exchange relation with the organization while others emphasize that temporary workers may show more cooperation because they want to acquire a permanent employment status. Empirical research shows mixed findings as well.
The question is addressed if these inconclusive findings can be accounted for by examining the social context of temporary and permanent employees. The effects of two features of the social context in which interactions between individual employees take place are examined: (1) temporal embeddedness, referring to the extent to which there are ongoing interactions between two actors and the likelihood that they will meet each other in the future; and (2) network embeddedness, referring to the extent to which a relationship between two actors is part of a larger network of relationships.
The empirical studies are based on empirical data from four different sources: a survey among university employees, a survey among employees in different organizations, a vignette study, and a dataset consisting of coded ethnographic data.
The analyses of the empirical data lead to three main conclusions. First, it is shown that solidary types of behavior are reciprocal; within organizations horizontal and vertical solidarity relationships are present. The second conclusion is that solidarity from employees is affected by the past and future of relationships and that temporal embeddedness is not just a matter of relationship length but depends crucially on the quality of the past between employees. The third conclusion is that solidary behavior of employees is positively affected by formal as well as informal network embeddedness, but that employees who are at the same time formally and informally dependent of others show less solidarity.

Related works

• Koster, F., Sanders, K. & Van Emmerik, H. (2003). Solidarity of Temporary Workers. The Netherlands Journal of Social Sciences, 38(1): 65-80.

• Koster, F. & Sanders, K. (in press). Organizational Citizens or Reciprocal Relationships? An Empirical Comparison. Personnel Review.

• Koster, F. & Sanders, K. (in press). Serial Solidarity: The Effects of Experiences and Expectations on the Cooperative Behavior of Employees. International Journal of Human Resource Management.

• Koster, F., Stokman, F., Hodson, R. & Sanders, K. (in press). Solidarity Through Networks: The Effects of Task and Informal Interdependence on Cooperation within Teams. Employee Relations.


Koster, Ferry

Dr. Ferry Koster is Associate Professor of Labor, Organization, and Management at the department of Sociology of Erasmus University Rotterdam. Besides that, he is a researcher at the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies of the University of Amsterdam and a guest researcher of the...


Erasmus University of Rotterdam, Department of Sociology

Sociology in Rotterdam provides educational programs on the themes of labour, organisation and management, and urban questions and policy. Research of Sociology in Rotterdam focuses on the themes, globalisation, individualisation and social policy.  

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