One important factor in developing organisational relationships and hence social capital is trust, which can be seen to be based on a combination of competence and warmth. Another important factor in groups is psychological safety, or whether we feel we can trust others to support us when we take a risk.

Some of Jeffrey Pfeffer’s recent research suggests that the primacy of warmth or competence rests on whether someone’s rewards are going to be influenced by their interdependent behaviours. I suggest that conclusion supports my hunch that competence is most important when working in functions and projects and that warmth is most critical in communities and networks.

My experience and conversations with others (I’ve not got any hard evidence for this) also leads to be suggest that psychological safety is a basic requirement even working in the simplest of groups, and that projects, communities and networks all require deeper, and different, psychological states.

My Linkedin post describing these ideas is here, and you may also be interested in a post on Miguel Lobo’s research into warmth and competence, and another on Amy Edmondson’s book on Extreme Teaming (or what I call Performance Networking) and how this requires an extension beyond more basic psychological safety.

What do you think? - does this make sense, or not? And does your experience provide any further, or do you know of any other supporting evidence?