Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 19, Iss. 4, October, 2015, pp. 529-552
@2015 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


Healthy Variability in Organizational Behavior: Empirical Evidence and New Steps for Future Research

Jose Navarro, University of Barcelona, Spain
Rita Rueff-Lopes, Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal, and University Ramon Llull, Barcelona Spain

Abstract: The healthy variability thesis suggests that healthy systems function in a complex manner over time. This thesis is well-established in fields like physiology. In the field of organizational behavior, however, this relation is only starting to be explored. The objective of this article is threefold: First, we aim to provide a comprehensive review of the healthy variability thesis including some of the most important findings across different fields, with a focus on evidences from organizational research in work motivation and performance. Second, we discuss an opposite pattern, unhealthy stability, i.e., the relationship between unhealthy behaviors and lower variability. Again, we provide evidence from diverse areas, from affective processes to disruptive organizational comportments like mobbing. Third, we provide a critical evaluation of current methodological trends and highlight what we believe to be the main factors that are stopping organizational research from advancing in the field. Theoretical, methodological and epistemological implications are discussed. To conclude, we draw a compilation of the lessons learned, which hopefully provide insights for prolific research avenues. Our main purpose is to raise awareness of the healthy variability thesis and to enthuse organizational researchers to consider it in order to advance existing knowledge, revisit old theories and create new ones.

Keywords: healthy variability, organizational research, organizational behavior, unhealthy stability