Sailing away: The influences on and motivations of George Caspar Homans

Jeffrey Muldoon, Eric W. Liguori, Joshua Bendickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


How do social factors motivate and influence scholars when they theorize? By exploring the life of George Homans, this paper aims to illustrate that theories are the products of the theorist, and as such are influenced by individual life experiences. Drawing on a plethora of archival sources including many personal and autobiographical accounts, this manuscript synthesizes these sources thus providing clear insight into how personal factors and experiences impacted Homans's social exchange theory. This research concludes that Homans's journey into theorizing was an act of providence; that his early career, personal background, and social capital interacted with several factors beyond his control thus leading to his interest in social exchange processes. This is the first research endeavor exploring the context, sentiments and motivations of George Homans as he began to lay out social exchange theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-166
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Management History
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 5 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • History


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