Call for Papers - AOM 2015
Call for Papers - Academy of Management Review Special Topic Forum
Posted: 21 August 2015
Organization: Academy of Management
Submission Date: June 15 - July 16, 2016

Call for Papers
Academy of Management Review
Special Topic Forum


Submission Date:  June 15–July 15, 2016
Guest Editors:  Emily Heaphy, Jody Hoffer Gittell, Carrie Leana, David Sluss, and Gary Ballinger

Work relationships form the foundation of an array of organizing processes, such as how organizational units interrelate, how managers and employees lead, how individuals manage their careers, and whether alliances succeed or fail. Interestingly, there is widespread acknowledgment that the nature of careers, organizations, and work, as well as the composition of the workforce, has changed profoundly in recent decades. Yet we lack theories of work relationships that account for these contextual changes—that is, changes with the potential to affect the development, quality, and outcomes of work relationships. Work relationships (in light of these contextual changes) may, in turn, help the workforce and organizations deal with such changes, while at the same time introducing new and underexplored challenges. In this special topic forum we invite contributions that develop new theories of work relationships, or alter existing theories, to take into account the changing nature of careers, organizations, work, and the composition of the workforce.

Why work relationships? Work relationships are integral to our understanding of work as a direct focus of inquiry, as integral to organizational processes, and as a core component of high-performance work systems.  Scholarship on this topic has occurred across multiple fields and levels of analysis. In recent years organizational scholars have begun to place work relationships “front and center” as a topic of study by looking across existing domains of relationships research and initiating an organizational “relationship science.”  One purpose of this STF is to answer questions raised by this emerging body of work, as well as to connect it to emerging forms of careers, organizations, work, and the composition of the workforce in ways not previously considered.

For this special topic forum, we invite theoretical contributions that address the changing nature of work relationships in one or more of the following topic areas (for more detailed Call for Papers, please see AMR website):


  • Today’s employees are more likely to work at multiple organizations for shorter periods of time and with less job security, as well as more likely to work as independent contractors. Much of this change has been initiated by organizations over the past several decades, with individuals adapting to the uncertainty accompanying such change (Leana & Rousseau, 2000). We need to understand more about the development, quality, and role of these relationships for individuals and organizations.


  • Many organizations face turbulent and uncertain environments and are called on to change on an ongoing basis. Researchers have found that work relationships are a critical mechanism for change. Yet organizational change can threaten existing relationship patterns, disrupting them when they are needed most. This special topic forum presents an opportunity for scholars to further explore how people engage in work relationships or how organizations structure work relationships to facilitate or block organizational or institutional change. 
  • An era of frequent organizational change may also have implications for work relationship transitions and relational mechanisms. Scholars have argued that relationships are a primary means by which people become attached to organizations, but if organizations undergo more frequent change and therefore provide fewer opportunities for forming relationships, what are the implications for how attachment occurs?


  • Organizations continue to evolve in response to the changing nature of work, from bureaucracies in which workers are focused on their own tasks, isolated from their colleagues in other functions and organizations, to networked or relational organizations in which workers are continuously coordinating their work with colleagues and clients within and across organizational boundaries (Adler, Kwon, & Heckscher, 2008; Gittell & Douglass, 2012).  
  • In many types of work, relationships with clients or customers are at least as important as relationships with coworkers, in terms of employee attachment. As a result, interdependencies in organizations have shifted as well.  Relationships that span organizational boundaries, such as strategic partnerships between supplier and client or care relationships between caregivers and clients, begin to blur the lines between coworker and client-based relationships. Such relationships are often long term and sustaining, despite their change in form.
  • The presence of technology has become widespread in our everyday lives, through the proliferation of personal devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets) or through the ease of surveillance of the workforce via video cameras. Individuals and organizations increasingly rely on a wide range of technologies to facilitate work interactions (e.g., video conferencing), with some work relationships experienced entirely virtually.


  • Just as work has changed in recent decades in the ways described above, the people who populate organizations are increasingly diverse along multiple dimensions, including gender, race, ethnicity, class, generation, religion, and nationality. Contributors to the STF[E1]  may choose to theorize about how dimensions of difference—particularly as they can be linked to the changing nature of work, organizations, and careers—affect work relationships, relational processes, and organizations.
  • The ways in which work, organizations, and careers are changing may be quite different across nations or regions, providing important opportunities to generate a novel theoretical understanding of relationships. We can advance our understanding by developing theories that both acknowledge and understand differences between diverse groups, as well as similarities.


The deadline for submissions is July 15, 2016. All submissions must be uploaded to the Manuscript Central/Scholar One website ( between June 15, 2016 and July 15, 2016. Guidelines for contributors ( and the AMR Style Guide for Authors ( must be followed.

            For questions about submissions, contact AMR’s managing editor, Dominique Ingram ([email protected]). For questions about the content of this special topic forum, contact Emily Heaphy, ([email protected]), Jody Hoffer Gittell ([email protected]), Carrie Leana ([email protected]), David Sluss ([email protected]), or Gary Ballinger ([email protected]).