Reciprocal Causality and Affiliate Program Management

In his Organisational Behaviour and Analysis: An Integrated Approach, Derek Rollinson points to the importance of looking at the leader-follower relationship through the prism of “reciprocal causality.” This concept presupposes that in healthy leader-follower interaction the influence between leaders and followers happens simultaneously, reciprocally, and continuously.

Ignoring, or neglecting, the principle of reciprocal causality in affiliate program management leads to authoritative and insensitive style of working with affiliates. Managers/merchants who do not bother to develop awareness of basic affiliates’ perspectives, fail to properly define affiliates — as independent, self-managing marketers, who place high value on their personal freedom, family life, personal goals, and independence from any form of higher management — and, as a result, their affiliate programs either underperform or fail altogether.

In “The Strategy Team” paper published in 1998 by K.A. Smith and H.P. Smith, Jr in Leading Organizations: Perspectives for a New Era, the authors reminded us that leadership “always occurs in the context of others.”  Regardless of the situation or the type of the organization, “all leadership is interactive” and “all leadership should be collaborative.” Leadership isolated from the understanding of values, talents, personal and professional goals of the followers is not leadership by definition. It is top-down directive management. Leaders, on the other hand, “need to understand their followers far more than followers need to understand leaders.” This need reaches its pinnacle (becoming a compulsory requirement) in the context of affiliate program management.

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