The role of sociopolitical workplace networks in involuntary employee turnover

Theresa M. Floyd, Alexandra Gerbasi, Giuseppe (Joe) Labianca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While poor performance is one reason employees are fired, previous research suggests it plays a limited role in explaining terminations. We argue that sociopolitical concerns play a role in determining who is terminated. Using field data from a U.S. health care company and experimental data using participants with supervisory experience, we show how the supervisor's political concerns with the focal employee, which are contingent on the supervisor-employee political relationship and the way it is embedded within the workplace network, are related to dismissal decisions. Not only do we expect that a supervisor will be less likely to terminate an employee they see as a political ally and more likely to dismiss an adversary, but we also argue that a supervisor with fewer (more) alternative allies to the employee is less (more) likely to dismiss the employee. Additionally, a supervisor with numerous adversaries in their own network depends more heavily on the employee politically, making dismissal less likely, whereas if the employee has numerous adversaries, the supervisor has greater latitude to terminate the employee. Our findings contribute to research on involuntary turnover by showing that a social network approach to understanding organizational politics helps us understand why specific individuals are targeted for dismissal, above and beyond performance considerations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-229
Number of pages15
JournalSocial Networks
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • Involuntary turnover
  • Political dependence
  • Power-dependence theory
  • Social networks
  • Sociopolitical context


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