Mentoring Research Matters: Overview (Infographic)

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Nerd alert!!! This week I am buried in last minute academic conference preparation as next week I will present at the Academy of Management conference in  the fair city of Philly. Thousands of business professors from around the world will gather so you can imagine the tremendous intellectual potential amassed in one place and I too am pondering deep thoughts like “Hmm…I wonder if they will have a non-dairy Philly cheese steak?!”  Anyway, this week I am sharing  an infographic that summarizes the last 30 years of mentoring research. So, if you want a quick primer to mentoring research and mentoring success strategies, I invite you to read on.
Mentoring Research How Mentoring Matters Ellen Ensher

·     Mentoring, Money, and all that Career Jazz.

There is a very robust empirical literature spanning 30 years demonstrating that       mentoring has many positive outcomes for individual protégés (aka mentees), mentors,   and their organizations. Some of the most compelling and recent findings include:

–     People with mentors make more money than those who do not.

–     People with protégés make more money than those who do not.

–     People with mentors are promoted more rapidly and have greater career mobility than those without mentors.

–     Organizational benefits include greater organizational commitment, increased retention and reputational capital.

Many researchers have contributed to these findings. See recent work by Allen, Eby, and Dreher, and Cox.

·     Mentoring Can Be Measured.

There is general agreement that mentors provide three basic functions for their protégés (instrumental support, psychosocial support, and role modeling). See excellent work on measurement by Ragins, Scandura and recent review by Hu.

·     Mentoring has Morphed.

If one mentor is good, then multiple mentors are better. By around the late 90’s and early part of the 21st century, we moved from recommending one mentor to having a network of mentors.   Researchers such as Ibarra, Hall, Higgins, and Kram are all instrumental to the development of these ideas.  In the 2005 book, Power Mentoring, Ensher & Murphy identify 12 unique types of mentors including step-ahead, peer, reverse, electronic, barrier-busting etc. See work by Ensher and de Janasz for e-mentoring.

·     Mentoring Can Happen Formally or Informally.

Is it better to have a formal or an informal mentor? Like many things, the answer is that it depends! In general, research has found that spontaneously developed mentoring relationships yield more satisfactory relationships than formal mentoring relationships. However, if formal mentoring programs are designed well, then they can be highly effective. See work by Eby, Allen, and Zachary in this area.

·     Mentoring and Diversity.

Mentoring has helped the likes of Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Ursula Burns of Xerox and many other regular folks too. There is a terrific body of research of mentoring and its impact on individuals and a creating a diverse workforce. Please see the work of Ragins, and Blake-Beard for work in this area.

·     Sometimes Bad Mentoring Happens to Good People.

Mentoring can have a dark side and the quality of the mentoring relationship is crucial to the success of the dyad. See researchers like Eby, McManus and Scandura for more information on this.

·     What’s Next for Mentoring Research?

Although much work has been done in mentoring, there is still a great deal to be explored. Ensher & Murphy are working on relational challenges in mentoring and are interested in mentoring and well-being, work-family balance, and leadership.


Allen, T.D., Eby, L.T., & Lentz, E. (2006). Mentoring Behaviors and Mentoring Quality  Associated With Formal Mentoring Programs: Closing the Gap Between Research and Practice. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91(3), 567-578.

Allen, T.D., Eby, L.T., O’Brien, K.E., & Lentz, E. (2008). The State of mentoring research: A  qualitative review of current research methods and future research implications. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 73, 343-357.

Blake-Beard, S. (2001).Taking a hard look at formal mentoring programs: A consideration of potential challenges facing women. The Journal of Management Development,   20(4),  331-345.

Blake-Beard, S. (2009). Mentoring as a Bridge to Understanding Cultural Difference. Adult Learning, 20, 14-18.

Castro, S. L., Scandura, T. A., & Williams, E. A. (2004). Validity of Scandura and Ragins’ (1993) Multidimensional Mentoring Measure: An Evaluation and Refinement.

University of Miami, Scholarly Repository, 1-39.

De Janasz, S. C., Ensher, E. A. & Heun, C. (2008). Virtual relationships and real benefits: using e-mentoring to connect business students with practicing managers. Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning Scholarship, 16(4), 394-411.

Eby, L. T., McManus, S.E., Simon, S. A. & Russell, J. E. A. (2000). The Protégé’s Perspective Regarding Negative Mentoring Experiences: The Development of a Taxonomy. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 57, 1-21.

Ensher, E. A., & Murphy, S. E. (2011). The Mentoring Relationship Challenges Scale: The Impact of mentoring stage, type, and gender. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 79, 253-266.

Ensher, E.A. & Murphy, S.E. (2005). Power Mentoring: How Successful Mentors and Protégés Get the Most out of Their Relationships, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA.

Higgins, M. C., & Kram, Kathy E. (2001). Reconceptualizing Mentoring at Work: A Developmental Network Perspective. Academy of Management Review, 26(2), 264-288.

Hu, C. (2008). Analyses of measurement equivalence across gender in the Mentoring Functions Questionnaire (MFQ-9). Personal and Individual Differences, 45, 199-205.

Ragins, B.R. (2011). Relational Mentoring: A Positive Approach to Mentoring at Work. The Oxford Handbook of Positive Organizational Scholarship, 39, 519-536.


Ragins, B. R., & Cotton, J.L., (1999). Mentor Functions and Outcomes: A Comparison of Men and Women in Formal and Informal Mentoring Relationships. Journal of Applied Psychology,  84(4), 529-550.

Ragins, B. R., & McFarlin, D. B. (1990). Perception of mentor roles in cross-gender mentoring relationships. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 37, 321-339. For more information on mentoring, visit