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Call for Abstracts: Special Issue on Toxicity in Organizations: New Directions in Conceptualization, Causes, Development, and Interventions - Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology

  • 1.  Call for Abstracts: Special Issue on Toxicity in Organizations: New Directions in Conceptualization, Causes, Development, and Interventions - Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology

    Posted 04-19-2024 14:15

    Call for Abstracts

    Toxicity in Organizations: New Directions in Conceptualization, Causes, Development, and Interventions

    Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology

    Abstract Submission: August 1-30, 2024

    Full Paper Submission: January 1-31, 2025

    ***Apologies for cross-posting***

    Dear colleagues,

    Please consider our call for Abstracts for a Special Issue of the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology!

    Link to the detailed call: Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology Call for Abstracts Toxicity in Organizations: New Directions in Conceptualization, Causes, Development, and Interventions (wiley.com)

    Toxicity in Organizations: New Directions in Conceptualization, Causes, Development, and Interventions

    Guest Editors: Maria Tomprou (Carnegie Mellon University), Lisa van der Werff (Dublin City University), Rosalind Searle (University of Glasgow), Helena Cooper-Thomas (Auckland University of Technology), and Mindy Shoss (University of Central Florida)


    Discussion of workplace challenges identifies workplace toxicity as the leading cause of the so-called "Great Resignation" (Sull et al., 2022) and APA reports suggest that 59% of dissatisfied employees attribute their dissatisfaction to workplace toxicity (Sleek, 2023). These trends are mirrored in our field where evidence suggests that concepts that fall under the umbrella of "toxicity" impact organizational outcomes ranging from derailing decision-making (Maitlis & Ozcelik, 2004) to multi-million financial costs due to absences and productivity loss (Dhanani's et al., 2021). Even subtle forms of toxicity affect employee's well-being (King et al., 2023). Despite popular attention, scholarship on toxicity faces new fundamental challenges that need to be addressed.

    First, workplace toxicity faces conceptual challenges due to the ambiguity that represents both its distinction from and inclusion of similar concepts and its own contextualized boundaries. For instance, there are ambiguous boundaries between regular norms of high achievement and healthy competition with toxicity (Kim et al., 2020) with many historically common practices and habits no longer being considered acceptable in workplaces. For this special issue, we define toxicity in the workplace as a strong negative affectivity toward others (like distrust, anger, envy) or oneself (like remorse, shame, or distress) in work environments. This can be brought about by organizational agents and experienced through (a) organizational values and norms (e.g., secrecy, tournament models), (b) negative leadership (e.g., abusive supervision, workplace mistreatment), and (c) negative collegiality (e.g., peer sabotaging, microaggressions, incivility).

    Second, the literature on toxicity has focused primarily on its consequences. While this work has been critical in establishing the importance of the phenomenon, a focus on the consequences of toxicity is insufficient for practitioners and scholars who wish to limit its development and potential for harm. Our special issue is a call to action for scholars in this field to develop new, rigorous work on the triggers (e.g., organizational shocks such as downsizing), enablers (e.g., lack of policies), or sustaining mechanisms (e.g., channels of distrust) of workplace toxicity. Moving the organizational psychology literature forward in this way will allow us to promote actionable advice in managing and preventing toxicity.

    Finally, the workplace toxicity literature is at a critical juncture and several fundamental issues need to be addressed to progress our psychological understanding of the phenomenon. First, there is considerable ambiguity and blurred boundaries between toxicity and regular norms of high achievement and healthy competition (Kim et al., 2020). Many previously common practices and habits are no longer considered acceptable in workplace environments and are likely to have serious consequences for employee well-being. Our special issue seeks to push the boundaries of toxicity and update evidence regarding what constitutes toxicity, therefore bridging academic and popular discourse on the topic and providing guidance for further scientific study. Only with improvements in conceptual clarity can we establish how it is created, maintained, diverted, or prevented in today's workplaces.

    Our current body of evidence suggests that the pervasive negative affectivities underlying toxicity create self-reinforcing cycles where once toxicity is established, we will see a continued deterioration of the workplace (Bijilsma-Frankema et al., 2015; Dhanani et al., 2021; Maitlis & Ozlecik, 2004). Equally important is how organizations and employees can prevent these negative self-reinforcing cycles. To achieve this, we will need evidence-based approaches and/or interventions that disrupt toxicity and understand the patterns of toxicity development and tipping points that accelerate or disrupt self-reinforcing cycles.


    We call for highly rigorous papers that explore issues related to the conceptualization of toxicity (e.g., explicitly and reflexively consider how the research design impacts participants and broader levels including organizations and society). We encourage submissions that focus on the antecedents and developmental trajectories of workplace toxicity instead of consequences.

    The call is open and competitive. We are looking for submissions that are original, relevant to the SI call, and represent cutting-edge research in this field. We are open to empirical work (e.g., quantitative and/or qualitative studies) and conceptual work (e.g., theory development) that aim to stimulate discourse toward advancing our knowledge and understanding of the causes and development of toxicity in organizations and provide evidence-based recommendations to guide practitioners and policymakers.

    Topics relevant to our issue may include:

    • Conceptual boundaries of workplace toxicity
    • Causes of toxicity in dyadic, team, and organization-level work relationships
    • Organizational factors and processes that encourage toxicity
    • Trajectories of toxicity development over time
    • Tipping points that create or disrupt workplace toxicity
    • Intervention studies designed to disrupt workplace toxicity
    • Differences in the sensemaking of toxicity
    • Differences in the propensity to engage in toxic behaviors

    For questions regarding this special issue, please get in touch with any one of the guest editors and copy the rest of the editors for transparency:

    Maria Tomprou (Carnegie Mellon University; mtomprou@cmu.edu)

    Lisa van der Werff (Dublin City University; lisa.vanderwerff@dcu.ie)

    Rosalind Searle (University of Glasgow; Rosalind.Searle@glasgow.ac.uk)

    Helena Cooper-Thomas (Auckland University of Technology; helena.cooper.thomas@aut.ac.nz)

     Mindy Shoss (University of Central Florida; Mindy.Shoss@ucf.edu)

    Submission instructions

    The editorial team of this special issue will manage a two-step review and screening process. In the first step, authors need to submit an extended structured abstract (up to 800 words without the references). The abstract should include problematization and context based on existing research, hypotheses development or research question, key findings, and contributions. The submission for extended abstracts will open 1st of August 2024 and close 31st of August 2024. Authors can submit their abstract by email to the journal inbox: joop@wiley.com and mention the Special Issue "Toxicity in Organizations" in the subject line of the e-mail. Please include names and institutional affiliations of all authors, indicate the corresponding author, and an e-mail address of the corresponding author.

    Abstracts will be selected based on the quality of the submissions and authors will be notified of the preliminary editorial decision. The selection of the extended abstracts will not guarantee that the submitted manuscript will be accepted, but that the proposed paper fits with the special issue and is likely to move forward into the peer-review process. Authors will need to submit their full manuscripts between the 1st and 31st of January 2025.

    Best regards,

    Maria Tomprou, Lisa van der Werff, Rosalind Searle, Helena Cooper-Thomas, and Mindy Shoss


    Bijlsma-Frankema, K., Sitkin, S. B., & Weibel, A. (2015). Distrust in the balance: The emergence and development of intergroup distrust in a court of law. Organization Science, 26(4), 1018-1039.

    Dhanani, L. Y., LaPalme, M. L., & Joseph, D. L. (2021). How prevalent is workplace mistreatment? A meta-analytic investigation. Journal of Organizational Behavior42(8), 1082-1098. https://doi-org.cmu.idm.oclc.org/10.1002/job.2534

    Kim, J. Y., Campbell, T. H., Shepherd, S., & Kay, A. C. (2020). Understanding contemporary forms of exploitation: Attributions of passion serve to legitimize the poor treatment of workers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 118(1), 121–148. https://doi-org.cmu.idm.oclc.org/10.1037/pspi0000190

    King, D. D., Fattoracci, E. S. M., Hollingsworth, D. W., Stahr, E., & Nelson, M. (2023). When thriving requires effortful surviving: Delineating manifestations and resource expenditure outcomes of microaggressions for Black employees. Journal of Applied Psychology, 108(2), 183–207. https://doi-org.cmu.idm.oclc.org/10.1037/apl0001016

    Maitlis, S., & Ozcelik, H. (2004). Toxic decision processes: A study of emotion and organizational decision making. Organization Science, 15(4), 375-393.

    Sleek, S. (2023). Toxic workplaces leave employees sick, scared, and looking for an exit. How to combat unhealthy conditions. https://www-apa-org.cmu.idm.oclc.org/topics/healthy-workplaces/toxic-workplace

    Sull, D., Sull, C., & Zweig, B. (2022). Toxic culture is driving the great resignation. MIT Sloan Management Review, 63(2), 1-9.

    Maria Tomprou
    Tepper School of Business
    Carnegie Mellon University
    Pittsburgh, PA