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Mentoring Revisited: An Organizational Behavior Construct Case Study

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Updated: Aug 1st, 2020

The Research Problem

A research problem constitutes one of the essential elements of any quality research. The researcher needs to express the problem of interest concisely. Such expression needs to capture a description of the current issues that require a solution. To this extent, a research problem helps in the generation of the study questions to be answered. It is the focal point for any research. In the article, “Mentoring Revisited: An Organizational Behavior Construct”, Appelbaum, Ritchie, and Shapiro (1994) do not clearly identify a section on the research problem statement.

The study only attempts to define mentoring as an important aspect of any organization. It then investigates the historical perspectives of mentoring before attempting to relate it to aspects such as leadership, organizational performance, gender differences, and job satisfaction, among others. This observation indicates a study that does not capture some elements that need to be present in standard research. A lack of such focus makes the generation of a research problem problematic.

Research Hypothesis

The hypothesis used in experimental research helps in making predictions about the possible relationship between variables. It purposes to respond to specific questions that are to be investigated in the research. Considering this hypothesizing involves specific predictions and concretely describing what the researcher anticipates to occur in the study, there is a need to provide a specific section on it. However, the study under scrutiny does not capture this aspect in the article. Appelbaum et al. (1994) only provide a description of mentoring where they seek to arrive at the conclusion that mentoring is an organizational behavioral construct.

To this extent, no variables have identified the testing of which can help to support the conclusion. However, the non-inclusion of the hypothesis in the article cannot be argued as a demerit of the research. Indeed, not all researches have a hypothesis. Some studies are designed as exploratory, aiming at establishing new insights, posing questions, and/or assessing a given phenomenon from a different angle with the goal of determining “what is happening” (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2012, p.139). Explanatory research determines the causal relationship that is evident between different variables.

The Need for Study

Researchers focus on making a systematic investigation of sources and/or materials with the objective of arriving at facts and conclusions about a specific phenomenon. This way, they help in shaping the way people understand some situations in the world they live in. This concern of research suggests that every study should serve to achieve a specific need that should be clearly indicated in its write-up.

Although Appelbaum et al. (1994) do not do explicitly capture this element, the authors suggest that mentoring is an important organizational behavior construct. Hence, all organizations should have some form of mentoring, owing to the benefits it has, especially upon considering its positive relationships with job satisfaction, building gender-sensitive organizations, and/or its accommodative organizational culture (Griffin & Moorhead, 2014). Hence, one can conclude that the need for this research is to help in appreciating the purpose and value of mentoring in organizations.


Research methodology describes the processes through which researchers acquire data on a given topic. It also shows the tools used in the analysis of the results in addition to the mechanisms for interpreting the results. Research methods have diverse characteristics. The selection of an appropriate methodology depends on the available resources, objectives, and goals of the research. Research can be designed as either qualitative or quantitative.

It can also deploy mixed methods (pragmatic research design) or take the form of a participatory or advocacy research plan. Arguably, Appelbaum et al.’s (1994) research are qualitative since no numerical data is used. It deploys secondary qualitative data in supporting the value of mentorship in organizations and its relationship with a number of variables such as job satisfaction, gender differences, and performance. Secondary data encompasses facts that have already been collected for any other purpose apart from that of being reanalysed in the research (Saunders et al., 2012).

Summary of Literature Review

Appelbaum et al. (1994) investigate mentoring as a possible organizational behavioral construct that can be studied via a number of variables. The authors first review various descriptions of mentoring. For example, they describe it as a process in which experienced people in an organization help to guide new employees or a confidential relationship occurring between two people with the desire for personal growth and corporate goals (Appelbaum et al., 1994).

This finding implies that mentors are people who enable others to become what they aspire to be in life. The article notes a deviation in the understanding of mentoring, although it appreciates the prevailing agreement on some of the aspects that constitute a mentorship relationship. After investigating the historical perspectives of mentoring and mentorship, the article concludes that the concept is of mutual benefit to mentors, mentorees, and all organizations.

Despite the necessity to have mentorship programs in an organization, Appelbaum et al. (1994) assert that many of them have not yielded optimal results as anticipated. Driven by this concern, the article relates mentorship and variables such as job satisfaction, gender differences, leadership, organizational culture, and performance in the attempt to demonstrate its value to an organization.

The article argues that mentors behave in ways that depict them as similar to leaders. For example, to influence peoples’ values, mentors must function as examples (Appelbaum et al., 1994). However, the authors quickly note that whereas leadership involves one boss and many followers, mentorship involves two people (a mentor and mentoree). After examining various case examples involving mentorship and leadership, the article concludes that leadership and mentorship are cyclical. In other words, mentorship helps in the development of leaders. Leaders then become future mentors.

Hence, mentorship is an important aspect of organizational leadership. Appelbaum et al. (1994) posit, “Mentoring can be utilized for the differentiation, translation, and modification of organizational culture” (p. 66). This claim suggests that mentorship influences the development and the growth of the organizational culture.

The article identifies gender differences and mentorship as some of the most controversial discussions in organizational behavior. It notes that in a conventional paradigm, mentorship was understood as a phenomenon dominated by men. However, it argues that such understanding has changed to the extent that women are well integrated into mentorship systems. Nevertheless, the authors argue that women do not play the role of mentors.

Instead, they only function as mentorees. Appelbaum et al. (1994) identify two ways in which mentorship relates to job satisfaction. First, they present a direct positive correlation between it and career commitment. Secondly, they confirm the “negative correlation between mentoring and dissatisfaction manifested in absenteeism, turnover, and plateauing” (Appelbaum et al., 1994, p.67). This finding implies that mentoring reduces the rate at which employees leave their jobs and/or their absenteeism. In terms of the relationship between performance and mentoring, the authors assert that the two elements have a direct positive link.

Study Assumptions, Limitations, and Potential for Further Research

Assumptions made concerning any study should be valid within the limits and contexts under which the research is conducted. False assumptions threaten the study’s validity (the degree of truthiness or falseness of the research propositions).

Appelbaum et al. (1994) discuss the relationship between mentorship and various variables such as gender differences, job approval, and performance on the assumption that the data used in the reviewed literature applies universally. For example, the authors argue that women are now being incorporated into mentoring systems. Does this claim apply to women of all races, ages, and color? In the case of mentorship and job satisfaction, does it mean that it (mentorship) leads to work fulfillment across all industries? These questions reveal some important limitations of the study.

The study has the limitation of generalization, which means the applicability of the results beyond the limits of the study situations. Although it is important for research to have some traits of generalizability, especially in the case of large population sizes, the article’s arguments are based on a few secondary sources of data. Hence, it has the limitation of poor validity. Since the article uses secondary data, the challenge of ensuring that the data is up to date is inevitable.

This approach to research also implies that the researcher has no control over its quality. The authors recognize that the study is limited to the extent that it does not reflect on infinite data volumes generated on the variables examined (Appelbaum et al., 1994). They also recognize that the research on mentorship evolves. Hence, the article’s suggestions may become obsolete in the future.

Amid the assumptions and limitations, the authors identify various potential gaps for further research. For example, the argument that women do not play the role of mentoring creates a room for further research on why this claim holds based on the article’s findings (Appelbaum et al., 1994). The literature investigated by the article maintains that mentorship is instrumental in enhancing the performance of the mentoree. This observation suggests a room for further research investigating how it influences the performance of the mentor.

Conclusion of Research Findings

The article finds job satisfaction, performance, leadership, and organizational culture as important aspects that are influenced by mentoring. Considering the benefits of these aspects to organizational success, the findings imply that institutions should ensure they have mentorship programs or systems. This plan allows experienced people to guide incomers in their work process or decision-making. In conclusion, the article clarifies what mentorship is about, including what it does not focus on.

The authors insist that the concept is a multi-faceted and diverse subject. Hence, its value in an organization cannot be underestimated. Organizations can use it to build the desired organizational culture. They can use it to enhance performance through mutual relationships between a mentor and mentoree. It is also an important aspect capable of increasing job contentment and work commitment.

Student Team Critique

Appelbaum et al.’s (1994) research is designed as a qualitative study using a literature review as the main source of data. Hence, a critique of methodology should respond to the question of whether the tactic is appropriate to the study. Various scholars prescribe certain characteristics that qualitative research must meet for results and recommendations to arrive at an effective resolution of the stated problem.

Despite the fact that the article does not set out the research problem clearly, the methodology deployed in the study needs to have some specific characteristics. They include credibility, reliability, and the use of rigorous methods, validity, and verification. However, the researchers only state that they used literature published in the last five years (Appelbaum et al., 1994). They neither discuss the procedures used to gather them nor the acceptance or rejection criterion. This situation leaves the question of the research validity wanting.

Research needs to establish and/or discuss the criteria of sample selection with care to ensure that the sample incorporated into the study leads to the collection of the appropriate data that can help in answering sufficiently the specified questions while at the same time achieving the established objectives. To this extent, approaches to data collection and plans for its analysis need to guarantee credibility. However, are the methods used by Appelbaum et al. (1994) verifiable? The authors do not clearly state their source of data. To attain verifiability, they should provide links to the organizations or academic profiles from where the data was retrieved. This plan could have been important in ensuring reproducibility.

The authors explore literature supporting the arguments that mentoring has a direct positive correlation with job satisfaction and performance. However, research also indicates that these two aspects depend on various other factors, thus raising questions concerning the extent to which scores on job performance and satisfaction are attributed to mentorship. For instance, personal dissatisfaction occurs due to “compensation issues, job security, job autonomy, and relationships with supervisors” (Marcin, 2017, p.32). This finding implies that in case employees are happy about their working situations, they portray higher efficiency and effectiveness levels.

Performance may be measured based on the desired outcomes, which depend on the goals and objectives of an organization. In the service sector industry, the desired outcomes may include service rate and quality (Marcin, 2017). In organizations that deal essentially with production, higher performance encompasses an increase in productivity levels accruing from a better quality of products and high production capacity.

From the work of Appelbaum et al. (1994), a question arises concerning the type of performance who correlation with mentorship is positive. The general contention in the research on job satisfaction and organizational success holds that better-satisfied employees have the capacity to produce and deliver higher quality products and services (Marcin, 2017). When the performance of organizations is measured from the context of productivity levels, it implies that job satisfaction has a direct correlation with performance. However, Appelbaum et al. (1994) argue that performance and job approval are part of mentoring functions. This finding raises the question concerning the mediation effect of mentoring on variables investigated by the authors, especially where such changing elements may be interdependent.

A research problem clearly indicates why and/or what is to be examined. The only attempt to include an explanation of the aspect of the research problem is reflected in the opening section on mentoring and organizational behavior (Appelbaum et al., 1994).

The authors question why it is necessary to study mentoring. Throughout the article, they preoccupy themselves with answering the question why mentoring should be studied or incorporated into organizations by relating it to various parameters such as job fulfillment. This effort facilitates their response to the question concerning the need to study mentorship. Nonetheless, while these components form an important part of the research problem, there lacks a statement of the study problem. Hence, it is impossible to provide an analysis of whether the article clearly responds to the problem or not.


Appelbaum, S., & Ritchie, S., & Shapiro, B. (1994). Mentoring revisited: An organizational behavior construct. Journal of Management Development, 13(4), 62-72.

Griffin, R., & Moorhead, G. (2014). Organizational behavior: Managing people and organizations. Chula Vista, CA: South-Western College.

Marcin, W. (2017). Organizational conditioning of job satisfaction: A model of job satisfaction. Contemporary Economics, 11(1), 31-43.

Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill A. (2012). Research methods for business students. Harlow, England: Pearson.

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