Previous studies have provided sufficient evidence that emotional intelligence (EI) can predict important work outcomes, including performance. However, we found that the extant research on why and under what conditions EI can predict performance is relatively weak after reviewing the research on EI. Two limitations exit in extant studies in the functional mechanism of EI. One is the ignorance of the context in which the role of EI plays. The other is the lack of an interdisciplinary approach to examine how EI influences the performance. To narrow the gaps, our research employs the social network approach to investigate the relation between individual EI and task performance under the team project background. Specifically, based on the social capital conceptual framework, we examine the mediation effect of relational social capital on the relation between individual EI and task performance, and cross-level moderation effect of structural social capital on the random slope for individual EI predicting task performance.
<br> Our theoretical model was tested using data from 46 teams composed of 210 individuals. All subjects who were undergraduates and postgraduates in a China university were required to participate and finish a team project in given time. Survey data were collected at two time points separated by 2 months. At Time 1, subjects responded to measures of personality and EI. Two months later, At Time 2, subjects responded to measures of relational social capital (perceived intra-group trust) and structural social capital (the density of team consulting network), and teammates rated subjects’ task performance in their own team. Confirmatory factor analysis, social network analysis, multiple regression analysis and multilevel modeling analysis were conducted by using Mplus6.11, SPSS19.0 and Pajek software.
<br> Analyses of multisource and lagged data firstly indicated positive correlations between individual EI and relational social capital, and between relational social capital and task performance. Secondly, it showed that relational social capital mediated the relation of individual EI with task performance. Finally, our findings demonstrated that the cross-level moderation effect of structural social capital (the density of team consulting network) on the random slope for individual EI predicting task performance is significant, and the relation between individual EI and task performance was stronger when the density of consulting network was greater. All of the above results were obtained on the condition of controlling personality.
<br> The finding suggests that relational social capital is an important pathway of how individual EI influences performance. It also indicates that the advantage of structural social capital can strengthen the relationship of EI with performance. Based on the social network perspective and the concept of social capital, the research answered two important questions about the functional mechanism of EI. Our research gives significantly practical and theoretical insights. Specifically, we offer both organizational and individual facts to better their performances. Organizations should provide communication platforms and interaction environment to build structural social capital for employees. Individuals should improving and making full use of EI to develop high-quality online and offline relationships. Theoretically, this study not only provides a guideline on study of EI by applying the social network approach, but also enhances our understanding the functional mechanism of EI.