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The influence of position and gender on personal networks in a UK professional service

Tonge, Jane (2010) The influence of position and gender on personal networks in a UK professional service. Industrial Marketing Management, 39 (3). pp. 390-399. ISSN 1873-2062

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Abstract

This paper presents empirical findings regarding the content and process of personal contact or social networks and networking of practitioners in a professional service. The focus of the study is public relations practitioners operating in seven consultancies across the UK, in Manchester, London, Yorkshire and Cheshire. Using qualitative methodologies including in-depth interviews and network mapping, the study reveals practitioners' network size and variety of contacts, and their role in client acquisition and retention. In particular, the study suggests that position and gender are two key influences on practitioners' personal networks. The study appears to identify that managers may have the smallest networks compared to their colleagues and especially lack weak tie contacts in the form of friends, and that female practitioners may have larger and more varied personal contact networks than men. The study thus offers an insight into personal network membership for public relations practitioners, hitherto unexplored, plus a deeper understanding of interactional dimensions of social networks and the gendered nature of networking in the UK public relations sector.

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