Do You Agree That Social Exchange Theory Explains Work Engagement?


Jane Flores

Social Exchange Theory is a concept that has been widely discussed in the world of psychology and sociology. It refers to the idea that people engage in social relationships because they believe that the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs.

This theory has been applied to various aspects of life, including work engagement. In this article, we will explore whether or not social exchange theory can explain work engagement.

What is Work Engagement?

Before we delve into the relationship between social exchange theory and work engagement, let us first define what work engagement means. Work engagement is a state of mind where an employee is fully absorbed and invested in their job.

They feel connected to their workplace and find meaning in their work. Engaged employees are usually more productive, motivated, and committed to their organization.

Social Exchange Theory

Social Exchange Theory suggests that people enter into social relationships with others because they expect to receive some benefits from those relationships. The benefits may be tangible or intangible, but they must be perceived as valuable by the individual. In return for these benefits, individuals are willing to provide something of value to the other person.

Applying Social Exchange Theory to Work Engagement

When we apply Social Exchange Theory to work engagement, we can see how it explains why employees become engaged in their jobs. Employees who are engaged believe that they receive more benefits from their job than what they put into it. These benefits may include financial rewards such as salary or bonuses, but they may also include intangible rewards such as recognition, praise, and opportunities for personal growth.

Moreover, engaged employees also contribute value back to their organizations by providing quality work and being committed to their roles. This contribution could lead them towards promotion or other opportunities for career growth within the organization.

The Role of Perceived Fairness

Another important factor in Social Exchange Theory is perceived fairness. Employees who feel that they are being treated fairly by their organization are more likely to become engaged in their work. On the other hand, if an employee feels that they are not being treated fairly or that the costs of working outweigh the benefits, they may become disengaged.


In conclusion, Social Exchange Theory can explain work engagement to a certain extent. Engaged employees believe that they are receiving more benefits than what they put into their job and feel connected to their workplace.

Moreover, fairness also plays a significant role in work engagement. If employees feel that they are being treated fairly, they are more likely to engage with their job. Overall, organizations should strive to create a culture of fairness and value for their employees to foster a sense of engagement in the workplace.