Dan Cable, London Business School (Managing Guest Editor)
Julia Lee Cunningham, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan
Gianpiero Petriglieri, INSEAD
David Sherman, University of California, Santa Barbara
Why is this Special Issue Important?
Modern workplaces have undergone many changes in order to be "lean, fast, and flexible" (Ashford, Caza, & Reid, 2018; Miles, 1989: 9; Tsui, Pearce, Porter, & Tripoli, 1997). Downsizing and mergers are increasingly common, employment relationships have become increasingly short term, and most employers do not perceive an obligation to provide security in exchange for employee loyalty and engagement (Korn & Kwoh, 2012; Robinson, Kraatz, & Rousseau, 1994). These changes in workplace norms have led to the rise of ever more unpredictable careers (Arthur, 2008; Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016) featuring "the expectation of mobility, the experience of uncertainty, and the necessity for individual agency" (Petriglieri, Petriglieri, & Wood, 2018: 482).
Recent research has investigated the critical role that self-narratives play in navigating organizational memberships, moves across organizations, and working lives outside organizations. Cable, Gino, and Staats (2013), for example, studied socialization in a call center in India, where new employees reflected on and discussed their best selves with other newcomers (e.g., "Reflect on a specific time-perhaps on a job, perhaps at home-when you were acting the way you were born to act"). Results showed that for employees assigned to this condition, both customer satisfaction and employee retention improved six months later compared to socialization that emphasized internalizing the organization's values. Petriglieri et al. (2018) showed how the construction of portable selves in temporary identity workspaces afforded managers "a sense of agentic direction and enduring connections that buffered them against the potential uncertainty, powerlessness, and loneliness of mobile working lives." (p. 506). For workers operating in the gig economy, outside the bounds of organizations, Petriglieri, Ashford, & Wrzesniewski (2019) found that cultivating holding environments was essential to render identities viable and selves vital in the face of chronic precariousness.
This body of research suggests that as institutional moorings fade, and working selves encompass more than a singular identity, narratives become ever more important to keep our selves together and moving in a positive direction. Understanding the crafting and function of self-narratives in the new world of work, therefore, is an important new area of research.
We solicit scholarly articles in this special issue to a) take stock of the research of self-narratives in, across, and outside organizations, and to b) disseminate methodological and theoretical advances in understanding self-narratives in working lives in, across, and outside organizations. We hope to set a new agenda for fruitful future research on the self and its identities. We aim to capture a broad understanding of self-narratives by invoking a range of self- and identity-related constructs that are cognitive and motivational-self-concept, self-awareness, self-affirmation, self-defense, self-presentation, self-verification, self-esteem, self-efficacy, self-regulation, and self-enhancement. We are also open to psychodynamic perspectives about the emotional underpinnings of self and identity processes, and critical ones about their illusory nature or exploitative potential. In doing so, we seek to provide a more precise and comprehensive picture of what constitutes the self and identity, and what functions narratives serve to and for the self.
Scope of the Special Issue
We seek to welcome submissions that will result in new insights in the field of self-narratives, as well as in Organizational Behavior. First and foremost, we invite authors to submit empirical papers based on rigorous evidence from the lab and field, utilizing a wide range of methods (e.g., experiments in lab and field, surveys, and qualitative methods, or meta-analysis). Papers in this category should provide novel evidence for how self-narratives are related to contemporary working lives in, across, and outside organizations. Second, we also encourage authors to submit theoretical papers or reviews that would put forth new directions for future research and/or take stock on the recent theoretical advances in self narratives. We are looking for papers that would expand our knowledge about a phenomenon, theory, or methodology, while demonstrating a clear set of implications for organizations.
Possible topics might include:
The OBHDP's submission system is open for submissions to our Special Issue. When submitting your manuscript, please select the article type "VSI: Advances in Self-Narratives". Please submit your manuscript before September 15, 2020.