Moving forward: Positive relationships at work as a research frontier

By: Jane Dutton, Belle Rose Ragins

Dutton, J. and B. Ragins. Moving Forward: Positive Relationships at Work as a Research Frontier. In J. Dutton and B. Ragins Exploring Positive Relationships at Work: Building a Theoretical and Research Foundation (Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers), 2006.


We began this volume with a belief that crossing theoretical boundaries and crossing levels of analysis with a focus on positive relationships at work (PRW) would yield new insights and open new frontiers for inquiry in organizational studies. By unpacking the construct of PRW we recognize that a focus on relationships is a corrective to the more atomistic accounts of behavior in and of organizations (Bradbury & Lichtenstein, 2000; Kahn, 1998; Leana & Rousseau, 2000). A focus onpositive directs attention to connections that are mutually beneficial in some way. The focus on work situates understanding of these relationships in a context of social structures in which people live and are employed for temporary or more extended periods of time. The chapters in this volume are full of insights and directives for future inquiry. Although no concluding chapter can do full justice to 16 original chapters and 3 integrative discussion chapters, we look across these contributions and see two major ways that a PRW lens adds value to organizational studies: through explanation and through extension. We use these two major clusters of contributions to articulate how a focus on PRW is a high-prospect research frontier.