An Ecological Systems Perspective on Mentoring at Work: A Review and Future Prospects

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After nearly 30 years as a subject of inquiry, mentoring remains a mainstay in the organizational literature, as relationships are arguably more important than ever to employees’ personal and career growth. In this paper, we take an ecological perspective to situate and review topical areas of the literature with the intention of enhancing our understanding of how mentoring outcomes for prote ́ge ́s and mentors are determined not only by individual differences (e.g., personality) and dyadic factors (e.g., the quality of a relationship)—both of which represent the most frequently examined levels of analyses—but also the influences of the people from various social spheres comprising their developmental network, the larger organization of which they are a part, and macrosystem factors (e.g., technological shifts, globalization) that enable, constrain, or shape mentoring and other developmental relationships. Our review examines multi-level influences that shape mentoring outcomes, and brings into focus how the study of mentoring can be advanced by research at the network, organizational, and macrosystem levels. To help guide future research efforts, we assert that adult development and relational schema theories, Positive Organizational Scholarship, a social network perspective, signaling theory, and institutional theories can help to address emerging and unanswered questions at each ecological level.

The full text is available in this .pdf: Annals Ecological Mentoring

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