Individual-Centered Interventions: Identifying What, How, and Why Interventions Work in Organizational Contexts
Lambert, B. K., Caza, B., Trinh, E. N., & Ashford, S. J. (in press). Individual-Centered Interventions: Identifying What, How, and Why Interventions Work in Organizational Contexts. Academy of Management Annals.
An increasing number of scholars are using interventions to positively affect individual and organizational outcomes at work. Yet the potential of intervention-based management research is currently limited by ambiguities surrounding: (1) what constitutes an intervention study, (2) how and why interventions bring about desired change, and (3) guiding theoretical and methodological principles for intervention studies. To address these challenges, we provide an integrative review of 172 management publications that use individual-centered interventions and synthesize insights about how researchers can trigger, study, and explain the process of positive change in organizations through intervention research. We begin by providing conceptual clarity and specificity to intervention-based research by analyzing the variety of interventional designs to identify core components and areas of fragmentation. We then offer an integrative framework that synthesizes existing intervention studies around the core mechanism pathways through which individual change is realized. Finally, we provide guidance on methodological considerations and discuss the critical issues that scholars confront when using interventions. Our hope is that the insights we uncover in this review will not only identify blind spots and areas of opportunity for intervention research, but also contribute to a deeper understanding of the tension between theoretical and applied managerial implications.