Positive relationships at work: An invitation and introduction

By: Belle Rose Ragins, Jane Dutton

Ragins, B. and J. Dutton. Positive Relationships at Work: An Invitation and Introduction. In J. Dutton and B. Ragins Exploring Positive Relationships at Work: Building a Theoretical and Research Foundation (Lawrence Erlabum Publishers), 2006.


What makes life worth living? For most people, the answer is relationships: friends, family, and loved ones. Too often, work relationships are not included in this list. Yet people spend most of their time at work, and work relationships are central not only for how work gets done, but also for the quality of our lives. Like other relationships, work relationships reflect the full spectrum of quality. At their best, they can be a generative source of enrichment, vitality, and learning that helps individuals, groups, and organizations grow, thrive, and flourish. At their worst, they can be a toxic and corrosive source of pain, depletion, and dysfunction. Despite the criticality of work relationships for individuals, groups, and organizations, organizational scholars have yet to understand the dynamics, mechanisms, and processes that generate, nourish, and sustain positive relationships at work.

This book is designed to put the field of positive relationships at work on the research map by crafting a multidisciplinary volume that uncovers the mechanisms and dynamics of positive work relationships. We envision positive relationships at work (PRW) as a rich new interdisciplinary domain of inquiry that focuses on the generative processes, relational mechanisms, and positive outcomes associated with positive relationships between people at work. PRW examines the conditions, processes, and mechanisms in organizational relationships that increase the capacity for growth, learning, generativity, and resilience in individuals, groups, and organizations.

This introductory chapter starts by giving the reader a brief overview of how positive relationships at work relates to the positive scholarship movement. We then examine why this book is needed and provide the reader with the mission, vision, and objectives of the book. Next, we offer a foundation for defining positive relationships at work based on a distillation of the approaches used by the contributors to this volume. From there, we give the reader a practical overview of the roadmap of the book. This is followed by an appreciative summary of the book chapters that invites our readers to explore this rich new research frontier.