Date of Award

Spring 4-11-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (PhD)


Industrial/Organizational Psychology

First Advisor/Committee Member

Dana Kendall

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Paul Yost

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Katie Kirkpatrick-Husk


mentor, formal mentoring, organizational support, mentor personality, mentoring, mentoring program design


Previous mentoring research has focused on informal mentoring relationships, but as formal mentoring programs proliferate throughout organizations as a means to train and retain high-quality employees, there is a need for more empirical research investigating the specific elements of formal mentoring programs that positively impact their success. The purpose of the current study, therefore, is to explore the causal relationship between formal mentoring program design characteristics and the likelihood that a qualified individual will choose to participate as a mentor. This relationship is examined through the hypothesized mediator of potential mentors’ perceptions of organizational support. Participants were recruited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and had to score above a cutoff on either the personality behavior (i.e., prosocial orientation) or trait (i.e., openness to experience) measure to participate. The sample included 288 participants divided almost evenly between males and females (54% and 46% respectively), with a mean age of 35 years. Seventy-one percent were white and the average years of work experience was 13. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three formal mentoring program descriptions: (a) a program that offered no form of organizational support, (b) one that offered time in work to facilitate the dyadic relationships, or (c) one that offered to provide training for the mentors to prepare them for their role. It was hypothesized that both features of organizational support would yield an increase in a potential mentor’s likelihood to participate compared to the mentoring program that did not offer these supportive elements. Results indicated that providing time in work to facilitate a mentoring relationship caused a significant increase in willingness to serve as a mentor (t(169) = -3.29, p = .001, d = .25) whereas training for the mentor failed to emerge as a predictor (t(184) = -1.07, p = .915, d = .008). Mediation analyses revealed that both time in work (Bab = .33; BC 95% CI = .13 to .52) and training (Bab = .23; BC 95% CI = .04 to .46) for the mentor increased an individual’s likelihood to participate through the mediating mechanism of perceived organizational support. The results of this study provide guidance for practitioners in allocating resources toward designing effective formal mentoring programs that attract quality mentors.

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