Social support research proliferated across multiple disciplines for more than a half-century. This growth, as well as disciplinary differences, resulted in mixed views, conceptualizations, and operationalizations. This review synthesizes knowledge and empirical findings from more than 4500 studies across disciplines. We summarize several characteristics of social support studied in the literature: quantity and quality, utilization, source, content, format, and consistency. We also identify four dynamic roles of social support in predicting individual outcomes directly, indirectly, and interactively (with stressors): a positivity catalyst, a positivity enhancer, a negativity buffer, and a negativity exacerbator. We find that the incongruence between social support, stressors, and individual characteristics accounts for the diverse roles of social support and mixed findings. Based on our analysis, we discuss how management scholars may draw insights from other disciplines to advance social support research and provide recommendations for future research.
- ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR