Call for Papers
Our aim in this sub-theme is to explore how organizations facilitate (or inhibit) workers from building meaningful connections
with each other in their workplaces. In doing so we hope to reveal how workers (dis)connections impact their lived experience
of work, their wellbeing, their relationship with their organization and their performance and contributions within it.
People’s wellbeing is contingent on their ability to meaningfully bridge the physical and psychological “space between” (Josselson, 1996) themselves and others (Saltet Ainsworth et al., 1979; Bowlby, 1982). Historically, the importance of meaningful relationships was only considered relevant in people’s personal lives, and the study of relationships was deemed outside the scope of organizational theorizing. More recently, however, the realization that the relationships people build in their work lives have a material impact on their wellbeing and a host of other organizationally relevant outcomes has led to an explosion of research on this topic (Dutton & Heaphy, 2003; Ramarajan & Reid, 2020; Olekalns, Caza & Vogus, 2020; Petriglieri & Obodaru, 2019, Philips, Rothbard & Dumas, 2009; Parker, Gerbasi & Porath, 2013).
Workers who have meaningful relationships with each other benefit from increased wellbeing (Methot et al., 2021; Mogilner, Hershfield, & Aaker, 2018), a greater sense of belonging at work (Livne-Tarandach & Jazaieri, 2021), increased perceptions of work meaningfulness (Dutton & Ragins, 2007) and are better at overcoming job-related stressors (O’Neill & Rothbard, 2017) than workers without these connections. Moreover, when employees have strong connections with each other their organizations benefit from their higher performance and organizational commitment (Boyd & Nowell, 2014; Methot et al., 2016).
Despite meaningful workplace relationships bringing benefits to workers and their organizations, their presence is not guaranteed. In fact, insidious disconnections between workers now seem more the norm than productive heathy connections. Workplace loneliness has reached epidemic levels (Murthy, 2017; Petriglieri & Sheprow, 2021), as have levels of stress and burnout, all of which can be buffered by relationships (Kahn et al., 2018). The transition to hybrid and remote working has made it more difficult for workers to forge connections with each other (Schinoff, Ashforth & Corley, 2020), and the polarization of society and workplaces has made these disconnections contentious leading to toxic working environments that harm wellbeing (Petriglieri, 2020). For the increasing number of people who work outside of traditional organizations in the gig economy building meaningful relationships with others can be particularly problematic (Caza et al.; 2021; Petriglieri, Ashford & Wresniewski, 2019).
While some people attempt to foster close friendships with each other at work (Rothbard et al., 2022), these connections, when exclusive, can have unintended consequences such as the exclusion of others, the propagation of homophily based relationships and thus inequalities in organizations (Pillemer & Rothbard, 2018). Indeed, recent research highlights the complex nature of relationships at work, showing how work relationships can be mixed or ambivalent in nature (Methot, Melwani, & Rothman, 2017; Melwani & Rothman, 2022). Although this research has significantly advanced our understanding, it has also revealed gaps in our knowledge. These gaps include: how organizations can promote the building of meaningful connections among diverse populations of workers, how individual workers can overcome moments of disconnection and the negative impact of these, how workers forge meaningful connections despite or even due to changes in technology and geographical proximity, and how workers relationships morph over time.
In keeping with the Colloquium theme of “Organizing for the Good Life: Between Legacy and Imagination”, we are interested in exploring how meaningful connections can be built between workers that benefit both the workers themselves, their colleagues, their organization, and their clients. We are also interested in the dark side of workplace relationships, in how disconnections occur and perpetuate, and how connections can be exclusionary and detrimental to the organizational good life. Our interests in this area are wide-ranging, but a few areas that could be of particular relevance to furthering current theorizing are:
1) How, when, and why meaningful connections develop between workers?
How do workers multiple identities shape their relationships and connections and vice-versa?
What organizational contexts/forces keep connections thin or instrumental or exchange oriented rather than thick and solidaristic?
How do individual worker’s intrapsychic worlds impact their ability or willingness to forge and break connections with others?
2) How does the nature of connections impact the organizational good life?
When are certain types of connections harmful or helpful for workers’ well-being?
What organizational outcomes are most impacted by dyadic relationships?
How do connections forge or undermine collective identification processes in organizations?
3) What shapes the trajectory and valence of (dis)connections over time?
How do connections enable workers to break free from or entrap them in existing organizational norms and pressures?
How do organizations reinforce patterns of (dis)connections and how can these patterns shift?
How do societal narratives and trends shape (dis)connections at work and how can these be molded?
4) How does the new world of work influence the ways in which, motivations to and possibilities workers to (dis)connect with each other?
How can workers build meaningful attachments with each other in a virtual world?
How do independent workers build meaningful work connections absent co-workers?
How can workers connections overcome the forces of polarization in their workplaces?
While we welcome theoretical explorations of workplace relationships, we want to especially encourage empirical investigations that bring to light how organizations can be spaces that facilitate (or inhibit) the building of meaningful connections at work.
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- Boyd, N.M., & Nowell, B. (2014: “Psychological Sense of Community: A New Construct for the Field of Management.” Journal of Management Inquiry, 23, 107–122.
- Caza, B.B., Reid, E.M., Ashford, S., & Granger, S. (2021): “Working on my own: Measuring the challenges of gig work.” Human Relations, first published online on June 21, 2021, https://doi.org/10.1177/00187267211030098.
- Dutton, J.E., & Heaphy, E.D. (2003): “The power of high-quality connections.” In: K. Cameron & J.E. Dutton (eds.): Positive Organizational Scholarship: Foundations of a New Discipline. Oakland: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 262–278.
- Dutton, J.E., & Ragins, B.R. (2007: Exploring Positive Relationships at Work. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
- Josselson, R. (1996): The Space between Us: Exploring the Dimensions of Human Relationships. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.
- Kahn, W.A., Barton, M.A., Fisher, C.M., Heaphy, E.D., Reid, E.M., & Rouse, E D. (2018): “The geography of strain: Organizational resilience as a function of intergroup relations.” Academy of Management Review, 43 (3), 509–529.
- Livne-Tarandach, R., & Jazaieri, H. (2021): “Swift Sense of Community: Resourcing Artifacts for Rapid Community Emergence in a Temporary Organization.” Academy of Management Journal, 64 (4), 1127–1163.
- Methot, J.R., Melwani, S., & Rothman,N. B. (2017): “The space between us: A social-functional emotions view of ambivalent and indifferent workplace relationships.” Journal of Management, 43 (6), 1789–1819.
- Methot, J.R., Rosado-Solomon, E.H., Downes, P., & Gabriel, A.S. (2021): “Office Chit-Chat as a Social Ritual: The Uplifting Yet Distracting Effects of Daily Small Talk at Work.” Academy of Management Journal, 64 (5), 1445–1471.
- Melwani, S., & Rothman, N.B. (2022): “The push-and-pull of frenemies: When and why ambivalent relationships lead to helping and harming.” Journal of Applied Psychology, 107 (5), 707–723.
- Mogilner, C., Hershfield, H.E., & Aaker, J. (2018): “Rethinking time: Implications for well-being”. Consumer Psychology Review, 1 (1), 41–53.
- Murthy, V. (2017): “Work and the loneliness epidemic.” Harvard Business Review, 9, 3–7.
- O’Neill, O.A., & Rothbard, N.P. (2017): “Is love all you need? the effects of emotional culture, suppression, and work-family conflict on firefighter risk-taking and health.” Academy of Management Journal, 60 (1), 78–108.
- Olekalns, M., Caza, B.B., & Vogus, T.J. (2020): “Gradual drifts, abrupt shocks: From relationship fractures to relational resilience.” Academy of Management Annals, 14 (1), 1–28.
- Parker, A., Gerbasi, A., & Porath, C.L. (2013): “The effects of de-energizing ties on in organizations and how to manage them.” Organizational Dynamics, 42 (2), 110–118.
- Petriglieri, G. (2020): “F**k Science!? An Invitation to Humanize Organization Theory.” Organization Theory, 1(1), https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2631787719897663.
- Petriglieri, G., Ashford, S.J., & Wrzesniewski, A. (2019): “Agony and ecstasy in the gig economy: Cultivating holding environments for precarious and personalized work identities.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 64 (1), 124–170.
- Petriglieri, J.L., & Obodaru, O. (2019): “Secure-base relationships as drivers of professional identity development in dual-career couples.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 64 (3), 694–736.
- Petriglieri, J.L., & Sheprow, E. (2021): Storying Loneliness: Executives incorporation of loneliness into their self-narratives. INSEAD working paper.
- Phillips, K.W., Rothbard, N.P., & Dumas, T.L. (2009): “To disclose or not to disclose? Status distance and self-disclosure in diverse environments.” Academy of Management Review, 34 (4), 710–732.
- Pillemer, J., & Rothbard, N. P. (2018): “Friends without benefits: Understanding the dark sides of workplace friendship.” Academy of Management Review, 43 (4), 635–660.
- Ramarajan, L., & Reid, E. (2020): “Relational reconciliation: Socializing others across demographic differences.” Academy of Management Journal, 63 (2), 356–385.
- Rothbard, N.P., Ramarajan, L., Ollier-Malaterre, A., & Lee, S.S.L. (2022): OMG! My Boss Just Friended Me: How Evaluations of Colleagues’ Disclosure, Gender, and Rank Shape Personal/Professional Boundary Blurring Online. Academy of Management Journal, 65 (1), 35–65.
- Salter Ainsworth, M.D., Blehar, M.C, Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1979): Patterns of Attachment. A Psychological Study of the Strange Situation. New York: Routledge.
- Schinoff, B.S., Ashforth, B.E., & Corley, K.G. (2020): “Virtually (in) separable: The centrality of relational cadence in the formation of virtual multiplex relationships.” Academy of Management Journal, 63 (5), 1395–1424.