Network Residues: The Enduring Impact of Intra-Organizational Dormant Ties

John E. McCarthy, Daniel Z. Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


It is often seen as axiomatic in the social capital literature that relationships require ongoing maintenance to remain valuable. As a result, nearly all social network research has only considered relationships that are active (or recently restored to activity after a period of dormancy). Seldom considered is the impact of still-dormant, unmaintained ties that remain dormant. Using two bounded-network studies (one in a school district, one in a private company), we find consistently that still-dormant ties increase employees' organizational commitment. However, we also find that active ties can "dilute" this effect, rendering dormant ties less relevant and meaningful to individuals, or act as "preservatives" keeping dormant ties relevant and valued. In a third, vignette-based study, we find two mechanisms for the effect of dormant ties on organizational commitment: perceptions of the past (fond recollections) and future (information access). Thus, we offer a more time-oriented, layered theory of social network ties that can be activated in people's minds even when not active in practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology


  • Dormant ties
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Organizational commitment
  • Social capital
  • Social networks


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