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In recent years, research on mindfulness has grown rapidly in organizational psychology and organizational behavior. Specifically, two bodies of research have emerged: One focuses on the intrapsychic processes of individual mind-fulness and the other on the social processes of collective mindfulness. In this review we provide a pioneering, cross-level review of mindfulness in organizations and find that mindfulness is neither mysterious nor mystical, but rather can be reliably and validly measured, linked to an array of individual and organizational outcomes, and induced through meditative and nonmeditative practices and processes at the individual and collective levels. Our analysis of the combined literatures further reveals that although each literature is impressive, there is a significant need for multilevel mindfulness research that simultaneously examines individual and collective mindfulness and broadens its conception of context. This research agenda provides a more robust understanding of the antecedents, processes, and consequences of individual and collective mindfulness as well as more definitive evidence maximizing mindfulness and its benefits in practice.
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Mindfulness in Organizations:
A Cross-Level Review
Kathleen M. Sutcliffe,
1
Timothy J. Vogus,
2
and Erik Dane
3,
1
Carey Business School and School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore,
Maryland 21202; email: ksutcliffe@jhu.edu
2
Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee 37203;
email: timothy.vogus@owen.vanderbilt.edu
3
Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business, Rice University, Houston, Texas 77252;
email: erik.i.dane@rice.edu
Annu. Rev. Organ. Psychol. Organ. Behav. 2016.
3:55–81
First published online as a Review in Advance on
January 29, 2016
The Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and
Organizational Behavior is online at
orgpsych.annualreviews.org
This article’s doi:
10.1146/annurev-orgpsych-041015-062531
Copyright
c
2016 by Annual Reviews.
All rights reserved
The authors contributed equally to this review.
Keywords
mindfulness, collective mindfulness, awareness, high-reliability
Abstract
In recent years, research on mindfulness has grown rapidly in organizational
psychology and organizational behavior. Specifically, two bodies of research
have emerged: One focuses on the intrapsychic processes of individual mind-
fulness and the other on the social processes of collective mindfulness. In
this review we provide a pioneering, cross-level review of mindfulness in
organizations and find that mindfulness is neither mysterious nor mystical,
but rather can be reliably and validly measured, linked to an array of in-
dividual and organizational outcomes, and induced through meditative and
nonmeditative practices and processes at the individual and collective levels.
Our analysis of the combined literatures further reveals that although each
literature is impressive, there is a significant need for multilevel mindfulness
research that simultaneously examines individual and collective mindfulness
and broadens its conception of context. This research agenda provides a
more robust understanding of the antecedents, processes, and consequences
of individual and collective mindfulness as well as more definitive evidence
maximizing mindfulness and its benefits in practice.
55
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INTRODUCTION
“Live in the present.” It’s an ancient piece of advice, advanced throughout the ages. It is also the
centerpiece of one of the most rapidly ascending lines of scholarship today: mindfulness research.
The influence of mindfulness extends well beyond the legions of peer-reviewed studies on the
topic and even a journal, Mindfulness, devoted to the scientific study of its eponymous subject to
include an outpouring of popular press writing trumpeting the benefits of mindfulness, widespread
adoption of mindfulness practice in training and development programs of major corporations
ranging from Google to General Mills, features on prominent news programs such as 60 Minutes,
and even apps downloadable to most smartphones. Universities, too, have taken up the call. For
example, the director of mindfulness education at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center
leads on average 200 people every week in a silent Mindfulness Awareness meditation class held
at the Hammer Museum’s Billy Wilder Theater (Hanc 2015).
Growth in the s cholarly and practitioner popularity of mindfulness has paralleled and con-
tributed to a corresponding growth in journalistic and scholarly critique (e.g., Ehrenreich
2009). More specifically, critics have deemed organizational implementations of mindfulness
McMindfulness (Purser & Loy 2013) and criticized foundational mindfulness research as lacking
sufficient rigor (e.g., Coyne 2014), or argued that the existing treatments of collective forms of
mindfulness (e.g., Weick et al. 1999) have neutered it of its emancipatory potential (Purser &
Milillo 2015). Still, the surge of interest in the topic dovetails with the observation that mindful-
ness can be studied systematically and rigorously. Through a combination of survey, experimental,
neurocognitive, and inductive methods (e.g., conversation analysis, ethnography), researchers have
placed mindfulness under the microscope, putting centuries-old claims about its benefits to the
test.
Although such so-called scientization of mindfulness has also been critiqued, research has found
that, consistent with longstanding historical claims, mindfulness matters. Evidence shows that it is
associated with some of the very outcomes—enhanced psychological and physical well-being (e.g.,
Brown et al. 2007), for example—that people have long ascribed to it. Moreover, research indicates
that mindfulness can prove beneficial in ways that even historical accounts of the phenomenon did
not anticipate. To illustrate, researchers have demonstrated that mindfulness can slow aging (Epel
et al. 2009), improve standardized test performance (Mrazek et al. 2013), and produce measurable
changes in the human brain (H
¨
olzel et al. 2011a). More germane to our review, organizational
research indicates that individual mindfulness is positively related to employee outcomes such as
work engagement (Leroy et al. 2013) and job performance (Dane & Brummel 2014), suggesting
that mindfulness contributes to an organization’s bottom line.
More recently, researchers have begun to investigate the employee and organizational conse-
quences of collective mindfulness—defined as the collective capability to discern discriminatory
detail about emerging issues and to act swiftly in response to these details (Weick et al. 1999,
2000; Vogus & Sutcliffe 2012)—and, in doing so, have found an array of benefits. For employees,
mindful organizing is associated with lower turnover rates (Vogus et al. 2014a), and for organi-
zations, collective mindfulness is positively related to salutary organizational outcomes including
greater customer satisfaction (Ndubisi 2012); more effective resource allocation (Wilson et al.
2011); greater innovation (Vogus & Welbourne 2003); and improved quality, safety, and reliabil-
ity (e.g., Vogus & Sutcliffe 2007a,b). Interestingly, these effects are most commonly observed in
particularly trying contexts characterized by complexity, dynamism, and error intolerance.
Our review suggests that mindfulness research in the organizational sciences carries the po-
tential to shift our thinking on the nature of mindfulness itself. The view of mindfulness ad-
vanced here—one buttressed by cross-level observations drawn from a careful review of more
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than 100 empirical studies and an additional survey of dozens of conceptual papers—suggests that
mindfulness is a more social construct than its name, implied mechanisms, and measurement
implies. As revealed through our organizational and cross-level investigation, mindfulness is em-
bedded in and powerfully shaped by multiple aspects of context, both in how it is triggered and
how it connects to other processes and individual and organizational outcomes. Highlighting such
connections, our review spotlights the emerging literature on collective mindfulness, which, as
with many collective constructs (Morgeson & Hofmann 1999), is not only shaped by top-down
organizational practices and processes but also enacted through a bottom-up process of social
action and interaction. However, collective mindfulness adds nuance with its particular character,
namely the focus of attention in collective mindfulness on the unexpected and the content of social
processes that undergird anticipating, detecting, and responding to it (Weick et al. 1999). Although
underemphasized in the literature, this claim follows from points raised in our review and provides
guidance as to where scholars could focus their attention moving forward. Researchers in orga-
nizational psychology and organizational behavior are especially and even uniquely well-suited to
integrate individual and collective mindfulness through multilevel theorizing and empirical re-
search that could augment existing accounts of mindfulness and also reorient research in notable
directions.
Despite these significant advances and noteworthy possibilities, mindfulness research remains
in its nascent stages, especially in the organizational sciences. The purpose of this review is to
synthesize multiple lines of research on mindfulness to provide organizational scholars with a
better understanding of what mindfulness is (across various levels of analysis), how it can be
measured, what fosters its development, and why and how it matters in the workplace. In addition,
we highlight numerous promising avenues for further research, specifically discussing the cross-
level and cross-cultural aspects of mindfulness. In the aggregate, the observations and frameworks
advanced in this review not only provide greater clarity of this burgeoning scholarly domain, but
also serve as a “user’s guide” for scholars and practitioners seeking to navigate, enrich, and apply
the insights emerging from this timeless and timely line of inquiry.
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
Although individual-level mindfulness does not have a single, universally accepted definition,
progress on this front is apparent. Indeed, within organizational psychology and organizational
behavior, definitions of individual mindfulness are more convergent than divergent. Table 1
features numerous definitions of individual mindfulness culled from articles recently published by
organizational and psychological scholars. For precision, we include each definition in its entirety,
along with (wherever relevant) the citation(s) the authors included alongside their definition (to
provide further insight into the conceptual lineage associated with the definition).
Common across these definitions is the observation that mindfulness is a particular state of
consciousness—one in which an individual f ocuses attention on present-moment events. For ex-
ample, Zhang & Wu (2014, p. 24) define mindfulness as “a mental state with the characteristics of
present-focused awareness and attention.” Similarly, mindfulness has been described as “a recep-
tive state of mind wherein attention, informed by awareness of present experience, simply observes
what is taking place” (Niemiec et al. 2010, p. 345). Defining mindfulness as a present-moment
focused state of consciousness aligns with historical perspectives on the concept and is in keeping
with investigations of the topic in cognitive and social psychology (e.g., Brown & Ryan 2003,
Brown et al. 2007, Mrazek et al. 2012). Indeed, several of the definitions included in Table 1 are
rooted in a foundational observation published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
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Table 1 Definitions of individual mindfulness
Source Definition of individual mindfulness
Baas et al. (2014) A state of conscious awareness resulting from living in the moment (Brown & Ryan 2003,
Kabat-Zinn 1994)
Carlson (2013, p. 175) Attention to one’s current experience and nonevaluative observation of that experience
(Bishop et al. 2004)
Creswell & Lindsay (2014, p. 402) Monitoring one’s present-moment experience with acceptance
Dane (2011, p. 1000) A state of consciousness in which attention is focused on present-moment phenomena
occurring both externally and internally
Eisenbeiss & van Knippenberg (2015) A meta-cognitive ability defined as “a state of being attentive to and aware of what is taking
place in the present” (Brown & Ryan 2003, p. 822) and involves conscious perception and
processing of external stimuli (in contrast to automatic tendencies)
H
¨
ulsheger et al. (2013, p. 310) A state of nonjudgmental attentiveness to and awareness of moment-to-moment
experiences (Bishop et al. 2004, Brown & Ryan 2003)
H
¨
ulsheger et al. (2014, p. 1114) A state of consciousness in which individuals pay attention to the present moment with an
accepting and nonjudgmental attitude (Brown et al. 2007, Kabat-Zinn 1994)
Langer (2014, p. 11) An active state of mind characterized by novel distinction-drawing that results in being
(a) situated in the present, (b) sensitive to context and perspective, and (c) guided (but not
governed) by rules and routines
Leroy et al. (2013, p. 238) A receptive attention to and awareness of external (e.g., sounds) and internal (e.g., emotions)
present-moment states, events, and experiences (Brown & Ryan 2003, Dane 2011)
Niemiec et al. (2010, p. 345) A receptive state of mind wherein attention, informed by awareness of present experience,
simply observes what is taking place
Reb et al. (2014) Present-moment awareness with an observing, nonjudging stance (e.g., Bishop et al. 2004,
Brown et al. 2007, Mikulas 2011)
Ruedy & Schweitzer (2010, p. 73) An individual’s awareness, both internally (awareness of their own thoughts) and externally
(awareness of what is happening in their environment)
Zhang et al. (2013, p. 433) A present-focused awareness and attention (the presence factor) with an open attitude
toward ongoing events and experiences (the acceptance factor) (Bishop et al. 2004)
Zhang & Wu (2014, p. 24) A mental state with the characteristics of present-focused awareness and attention (Bishop
et al. 2004, Brown et al. 2007, Langer 1989b)
that mindfulness is “the state of being attentive to and aware of what is taking place in the present”
(Brown & Ryan 2003, p. 822).
Some definitions included in Table 1 indicate that the present-moment attentiveness associated
with mindfulness concerns not only external events but also internal (or intrapsychic) events,
such as intuitions and emotions. For example, Leroy et al. (2013, p. 238) note that mindfulness
involves attending to “external (e.g., sounds) and internal (e.g., emotions) present-moment states,
events and experiences,” and Ruedy & Schweitzer (2010, p. 73) observe that mindfulness concerns
awareness of one’s “own thoughts” as well as “what is happening in [one’s] environment.” Thus,
mindfulness entails awareness of “phenomena occurring both externally and internally” (Dane
2011, p. 1000).
The portrait of individual-level mindfulness suggested thus far—i.e., paying attention to in-
ternal and external present-moment events—provides a basis for comparing and differentiating
mindfulness from other attention-related concepts. For example, mindfulness is similar to absorp-
tion (Rothbard 2001) and flow (Csikszentmihalyi 1990), insofar as each of these states involves
directing attention to present-moment events. However, mindfulness is distinct from these con-
cepts because it involves wide attentional breadth—that is, it involves directing attention toward
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not only external events and phenomena but also internal events (Dane 2011; see also Sheldon
et al. 2015 for empirical distinctions between mindfulness and flow).
Despite the similarities across various definitions of mindfulness, differences exist. Most no-
tably, definitions differ on whether mindfulness consists solely of focusing attention on present-
moment events or whether additional features or qualities characterize mindfulness. For example,
as reflected in Table 1, some definitions suggest that, to be mindful, one’s connection to the
present moment must be nonjudgmental (e.g., H
¨
ulsheger et al. 2013, Sheldon et al. 2015). That
is, in attending to present-moment events, one refrains from making judgments or evaluations,
and thus maintains a nonjudging stance (Reb et al. 2014). This view of mindfulness aligns closely
with traditional Eastern perspectives on the topic, which emphasize the importance of adopting
an open and accepting attitude toward the events one encounters (see Bishop et al. 2004).
A different line of research—one pioneered by Ellen Langer—defines mindfulness as “an active
state of mind characterized by novel distinction-drawing that results in being (1) situated in the
present; (2) s ensitive to context and perspective; and (3) guided (but not governed) by rules and
routines” (Langer 2014, p. 11; see also Langer 1989b). This definition departs from the others
included in Table 1, most notably for its focus on drawing distinctions. Indeed, Langer’s view of
mindfulness is more directly tied to creative thinking than to Eastern perspectives on the concept.
This does not mean, however, that Langer’s views on mindfulness are incommensurate with
Eastern perspectives. In fact, Langer (2014) has s uggested the line often drawn between other
accounts of mindfulness and her own is unduly stark.
Research on collective mindfulness exhibits greater definitional coherence than its individual
analogue. This is primarily a function of Weick et al.’s (1999) highly influential work, which intro-
duced the concept to organizational psychology and organizational behavior and has continued to
serve as the canonical conceptualization. Their definition of collective mindfulness is alternatively
referred to as mindful organizing (the two terms used interchangeably throughout our review)
and originally builds on the individual-level work of Langer (1989a) and her three aspects of
mindfulness (Weick et al. 1999). Collective mindfulness comprises five interrelated processes at
multiple organizational levels: preoccupation with failure, reluctance to simplify interpretations,
sensitivity to operations, commitment to resilience, and deference to expertise (Vogus & Sutcliffe
2012; Weick et al. 1999; Weick & Sutcliffe 2001, 2006, 2007). Preoccupation with failure is the
active consideration and ongoing wariness of the possibility of failure that treats any failure or
near miss as an indicator of potentially larger problems (LaPorte & Consolini 1991). Reluctance
to simplify interpretations means actively questioning received wisdom and operating assump-
tions to better uncover blind spots (Schulman 1993). Sensitivity to operations means creating and
maintaining a current, integrated understanding of operations in the moment (Weick et al. 1999).
A commitment to resilience involves growing employee and organizational capabilities to adapt,
improvise, and learn in order to better recover from unexpected events (van Dyck et al. 2005).
Finally, deference to expertise occurs when decisions migrate to those with the greatest expertise
with the problem at hand, regardless of formal rank (Roberts et al. 1994).
Table 2 features a representative, but not exhaustive, set of definitions of collective mindfulness
culled from articles recently published by organizational and psychological scholars. The influence
of Weick and colleagues is evident, as most of the articles reviewed adopt their definition (or, in
papers that precede it, inform their definition, e.g., Schulman 1993).
Collective mindfulness was originally developed to explain how high-reliability organizations
(HROs) avoid catastrophe and perform in a nearly error-free manner under trying conditions.
Over time, the focus has expanded to include “organizations that pay close attention to what is
going on around them, refusing to function on ‘auto-pilot’” (Ray et al. 2011, p. 188; also see Fiol
& O’Connor 2003). In either case, unlike individual mindfulness, organizational mindfulness is
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Table 2 Definitions of collective mindfulness
Source Definition of collective mindfulness
Ausserhofer et al. (2013, p. 157) To stay mindful, despite hazardous environments, frontline employees consider constantly five
principles: tracking small failures, resisting oversimplification, remaining sensitive to operations,
maintaining capabilities for resilience, and taking advantage of shifting locations of expertise
Barry & Meisiek (2010, p. 1505) The capacity of groups and individuals to be acutely aware of significant details, to notice errors in
the making, and to have the shared expertise and freedom to act on what they notice (from Weick
et al. 2000, p. 34)
Carlo et al. (2012, pp. 1081–82) A means to increase organizational reliability and mitigate the adverse potential of unexpected,
so-called black swan events (Taleb 2007), and is characterized by five mindful behaviors, including
continuous learning from failures and the willingness to consider alternative perspectives
Hales et al. (2012, p. 570) When, in an organizational context, an individual maintains a level of alertness to the activities
surrounding his/her job or task and awareness of how he/she contributes to an overall process
that produces a good or service for a customer
Hargadon & Bechky
(2006, p. 486)
Describes the amount of attention and effort that individuals allocate to a particular task or
interaction, and, through mindful interpretation by group members of an ongoing experience and
the mindful generation of appropriate actions, collective cognition connects individual ideas and
experiences, both redefining and resolving the demands of emerging situations
Hoy et al. (2006, p. 241) Preoccupation with mistakes, reluctance to simplify, sensitivity to day-to-day operations,
resilience, and deference to expertise
Knox et al. (1999, p. 26) Actively and continuously question assumptions; promote orderly challenge of operating routines
and practices so successful lessons of the past do not become routine to the point of safety
degradation; “outside view” actively solicited or created through active multidisciplinary review of
the routine and debriefing of the unusual to prevent normalization of deviance
Mu & Butler (2009, p. 29) An elevated state of awareness of expectations, a nuanced appreciation of the specific context, and
an alertness to potentially significant changes in the face of new and unprecedented situations;
takes into account the specific organizational situation rather than following bandwagon effects
Ndubisi (2012, p. 537) Systems and processes to promote individual and collective mindfulness; a way of working marked
by a focus on the present, attention to operational detail, willingness to consider alternative
perspectives, and an interest in investigating and understanding failures
Ray et al. (2011, p. 188) Referred to by some as organizational mindfulness, a construct developed initially to describe how
high-reliability organizations avoid catastrophic errors (Weick & Sutcliffe 2001), but now
increasingly used to characterize organizations that pay close attention to what is going on around
them, refusing to function on “autopilot”; “mindful” organizations “induce a rich awareness of
discriminatory detail and a capacity for action” (Weick et al. 1999, p. 88)
Valorinta (2009, p. 964) Mindfulness refers to processes that keep organizations sensitive to their environment, open and
curious to new information, and able to effectively contain and manage unexpected events in a
prompt and flexible fashion
Wilson et al. (2011, p. 808) The combination of ongoing scrutiny of existing expectations based on newer experiences,
willingness, and capacity to invent new expectations based on newer experiences, willingness and
capacity to invent new expectations that make sense of unprecedented events, a more nuanced
appreciation of context and ways to deal with it, and identification of new dimensions of context
to improve foresight and current functioning (from Weick & Sutcliffe 2001, p. 42)
Barrett et al. (2006), Vogus &
Sutcliffe (2007a,b), Vogus &
Welbourne (2003), Vogus
et al. (2014a), Weick (2005),
Weick & Sutcliffe (2003)
All use the categories of collective m indfulness and the definitions from Weick et al. (1999) and/or
later adaptations by Weick & Sutcliffe (2001, 2007); other studies, such as LaPorte & Consolini
(1991; preoccupation with failure, sensitivity to operations, commitment to resilience, and
deference to expertise), Roberts et al. (1994; deference to expertise), and Schulman (1993;
reluctance to simplify interpretations), constitute collective m indfulness
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not viewed as an intrapsychic process or even an aggregation of intrapsychic processes. Instead,
organizational mindfulness is a function of social practices, both action (Weick & Roberts 1993)
and communication (Cooren 2004). In other words, collective mindfulness is a means of engaging
in the everyday social processes of organizing that sustains attention on detailed comprehension
of one’s context and on factors that interfere with such comprehension (Vogus & Sutcliffe 2012;
Weick et al. 1999; Weick & Sutcliffe 2001, 2006, 2007). The emergence of collective mindfulness
in the course of ongoing organizing across organizational levels (Vogus & Sutcliffe 2012) puts it in
tension with recent characterizations of organizational mindfulness as a relatively enduring, stable,
and shared property of organization (Ray et al. 2011). Recent work by Carlo et al. (2012, pp. 1102–
3) has reinforced a cross-level, emergent, and fragile definition of collective mindfulness as “a
totality with intricately connected and interdependent components, from which organizational
mindfulness emerges at the system level.”
Although closely connected to Langer’s foundational work, research in organizational be-
havior highlighting collective mental processes independently informed and shaped the initial
formulation of collective mindfulness. Sandelands & Stablein (1987, pp. 137–38) proposed that
organizations are mental entities capable of thought. As they argued, although the mind is com-
monly defined by what it is able to do, such as think, feel, perceive, or will, it is “not so much
a substance with intellective powers as it is a process of forming ideas.” Westrum (1992, 1997)
suggested that some organizations (e.g., HROs) are “generative, thinking entities, protected by a
comprehensive envelope of human thought” (1997, p. 237). Weick & Roberts (1993) showed that
the reliable operations on naval aircraft carrier flight decks resulted from the “collective mind,”
embodied in the interrelating of crewmembers’ social activities and interactions.
Weick et al.’s (1999) formulation of collective mindfulness has been subsequently refined to
make enriched organizational attention and present moment awareness more focal (Weick &
Sutcliffe 2006). This clarification of collective mindfulness has led to illustrations of “Eastern”
perspectives on collective mindfulness (e.g., Weick & Putnam 2006) and increasing research in
the domain of organizational attention (e.g., Rerup 2009). For example, building on Weick &
Sutcliffe (2006), Rerup (2009) empirically illustrated attentional triangulation as a mindfulness-
like state characterized by stability (concentration), vividness (complexity of representation of
issues), and coherence (compatibility across individuals and collectives).
The conceptual elaboration and refinement of collective mindfulness have also been met with
criticism. Fiol & O’Connor (2003) argued that two of the five processes of collective mindfulness
needed significant change. First, they noted that a sensitivity to operations is mindfulness and not
distinctive. Second, they argued that a preoccupation with failure limits the relevant contexts and,
consequently, reformulated it as preoccupation with failure or success. Levinthal & Rerup (2006)
posit that in its focus on attention and novelty, research on collective mindfulness underplays what
they see as the critical importance of routine action, as well as Weick et al.’s (1999) focus on creat-
ing, enriching, and sustaining mindfulness. Lastly, as t he collective mindfulness literature began to
more formally adopt some of the language and concepts from the Buddhist tradition (e.g., Weick
& Putnam 2006), Purser & Milillo (2015) have argued that the treatment of Buddhist doctrine is
inappropriate and incomplete, stripping important context and emancipatory aims foundational
to the perspective. These critiques, however, have remained at the periphery of collective mind-
fulness research but may provide useful future conceptual and empirical refinements.
Although definitional progress and convergence may well continue, we do not view complete
definitional convergence as essential for research on individual and collective mindfulness to
proceed. That multiple perspectives on mindfulness exist is emblematic of the richness of the
mindfulness construct and the deep and wide-ranging lines of inquiry and practice that lie at the
construct’s core. Nevertheless, we do see value in cataloging and consolidating definitions, and
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Trait State
Single
dimension
Multiple
dimensions
Single
dimension
Multiple
dimensions
Single
dimension
Multiple
dimensions
Not meditation
related
Meditation
related
Not meditation
related
Meditation
related
Not meditation
related
Meditation
related
Not meditation
related
Meditation
related
Trait
MAAS
FMI PHLMS
FFMQ
TMS SMSState
MAAS
Individual
SOS HROP
OM
OMP
Collective
Figure 1
Measures of mindfulness decision tree. Abbreviations: FFMQ, Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire; FMI, Freiburg Mindfulness
Inventory; HROP, high-reliability organization perceptions; MAAS, Mindful Attention Awareness Scale; OM, organizational
mindfulness; OMP, organizational mindfulness processes; PHLMS, Philadelphia Mindfulness Scale; SMS, State Mindfulness Scale;
SOS, Safety Organizing Scale; TMS, Toronto Mindfulness Scale.
we hope this review provides an advance in this direction. We further hope that articulating the
individual-level foundations of collective mindfulness paired with the distinctive ways in which
collective mindfulness is enacted illustrates points of connection, but also opportunities for putting
these two concepts in relation to each other. (We return to the latter topic in the final section,
Future Research Directions.)
MEASURING MINDFULNESS
Through our review of the literature, we encountered numerous scale-based approaches—and
related techniques—for capturing individual-level mindfulness empirically. Given that many of
these scales and their respective merits and applications have been reviewed recently (see Bergomi
et al. 2013), we refrain from profiling them in depth. Instead, consistent with our focus on mind-
fulness in the workplace, we focus on the fit between specific mindfulness scales and the various
theoretical perspectives, methodologies, and contexts by which organizational scholars may opt
to study mindfulness. Bringing together the observations and prescriptions offered in this section,
Figure 1 provides researchers with a framework for selecting an individual-level mindfulness
measurement approach given their theoretical interests and empirical objectives.
As individual-level mindfulness is, by its very nature, a state of consciousness, researchers have
developed scales for assessing mindfulness at the state level, such as the Toronto Mindfulness
Scale (Lau et al. 2006) and the State Mindfulness Scale (Tanay & Bernstein 2013). Such scales ask
respondents to report how mindful they were during a task they just completed or a meditation
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session they just engaged in. For an alternative, “real time” option for assessing state-level
mindfulness, researchers might consider employing experiential sampling methods. For example,
with the assistance of a smartphone app, researchers may contact research participants at random
points during a given day or week and ask them to report what they are thinking about, how they
are feeling, and whether their mind is on task (or situated in the present moment) versus off task
(or away from the present altogether) (see Killingsworth & Gilbert 2010).
As with many state-level concepts (e.g., positive and negative affect), mindfulness can be con-
ceptualized and measured not only as a state but also as a trait. Trait-level assessment is well-suited
to correlational research linking mindfulness to global indicators of health and well-being as well
as overall job performance. Researchers have their pick of several validated trait-level scales (e.g.,
Baer et al. 2008, Brown & Ryan 2003, Cardaciotto et al. 2008, Chadwick et al. 2008). If they are
interested in the degree to which people tend to be mindful at work, researchers may consider
adapting an existing trait-level measure to capture the degree to which one tends to be mindful
within a given work context (see, e.g., Dane & Brummel 2014, Reb et al. 2015).
In selecting a measurement scale or technique, researchers should also consider how they
view mindfulness conceptually. As noted above, definitions of mindfulness vary in their features
and therefore some measurement approaches match certain definitions better than others. To
illustrate, if one views mindfulness primarily in terms of attending to the present moment, one
might consider using Brown & Ryan’s (2003) Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), given
that it focused on this particular feature (see Van Dam et al. 2010 for an item-level assessment of the
MAAS). Similarly, if one holds a multifaceted perspective on mindfulness, other measures, such as
the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (Baer et al. 2008) or the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory
(Buchheld et al. 2001), are better candidates. By the same logic, researchers embracing Langer’s
(1989a,b) view of mindfulness should consider utilizing the Langer Mindfulness Scale, available
for purchase through IDS Publishing (see Haigh et al. 2011 for a psychometric examination of
this scale).
Finally, researchers should devote thought to whether meditation is germane to their re-
search question or target population. Given the historical connections between mindfulness and
meditation—and that, in some cases, researchers have used meditative training programs to
“develop” mindfulness among study participants (discussed in the next section)—some mind-
fulness scales are catered toward those who meditate (e.g., Lau et al. 2006, Walach et al. 2006). At
the same time, other scales—particularly those rooted in an individual differences perspective—
presume no experience or familiarity with meditation including the MAAS (Brown & Ryan 2003)
and the Philadelphia Mindfulness Scale (Cardaciotto et al. 2008). In short, depending on how one’s
study is designed (e.g., does it involve a meditative training program?) and what population(s) one
is studying, one may opt for a mindfulness scale that calls for an understanding of (or experience
with) meditation—or requires no such knowledge.
Relative to individual mindfulness, measurement of organizational mindfulness is much less
developed with few valid measures. In fact, the majority of research examining organizational
mindfulness is qualitative. Specifically, two-thirds of the works we identified as empirically inves-
tigating organizational mindfulness were qualitative, including action research (e.g., Hales et al.
2012), case studies (e.g., Bigley & Roberts 2001, Carlo et al. 2012, Madsen et al. 2006, Rerup
2009, Valorinta 2009), interview-based studies (Roth et al. 2006, Wilson et al. 2011), observa-
tional studies (Cooren 2004, 2006; Klein et al. 2006; LaPorte & Consolini 1991; Roe & Schulman
2008; Schulman 1993; Weick & Roberts 1993), and reanalyses of governmental reports (e.g.,
Weick 2005, Weick & Sutcliffe 2003) or previously published research (e.g., Barry & Meisiek
2010, McPhee et al. 2006). At its early stage of development, it is not surprising to observe a
preponderance of qualitative research. These approaches allow researchers to develop a sense of
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the grounded and ongoing nature of organizational mindfulness in a variety of settings extending
beyond traditional high-reliability settings (e.g., aircraft carrier flight decks; Weick & Roberts
1993) to include architectural design and construction (Carlo et al. 2012), drug r ehabilitation cen-
ters (Cooren 2004), and retail organizations (Valorinta 2009). Although helpful in detailing and
representing the collective mindfulness construct across settings, several studies merely illustrate
the known dimensions of collective mindfulness in different settings (e.g., health care; Wilson et al.
2011). Qualitative studies also inherently trade off replicability and generalizability for richness.
To build on the qualitative foundations of collective mindfulness research, quantitative mea-
surement of collective mindfulness and its constituent processes have begun to proliferate. The
direct assessment of collective mindfulness has almost exclusively taken the form of survey mea-
sures. Survey measures of collective mindfulness usually take one of two forms: a unidimensional
construct such as the Safety Organizing Scale (SOS; Vogus & Sutcliffe 2007a) or a multifactor mea-
sure such as organizational mindfulness where each of the five processes (e.g., preoccupation with
failure) represents a separate construct (although it may feed into a second-level factor; Ray et al.
2011). However, most measures of collective mindfulness have been subjected to limited validity
testing. For these instruments to be valid, they need to demonstrate traditional psychometrics
by meeting traditional thresholds for reliability and validity (e.g., convergent, discriminant, and
criterion) as well as justify individual survey responses being aggregated to the collective level.
Vogus and Sutcliffe’s SOS is a nine-item, unidimensional survey measure that demonstrates
reliability, convergent validity, discriminant validity (from trust in leadership and affective com-
mitment), the appropriateness of aggregating the measure, and criterion validity by linking it
to organizational (e.g., patient safety, turnover) and individual (emotional exhaustion) outcomes
across three studies of registered nurses in hospitals (Vogus & Sutcliffe 2007a,b; Vogus et al.
2014a). Ausserhofer et al. (2013) followed a similar approach in validating their versions of the
scale in French, German, and Italian. Valentine et al. (2010) developed an eight-item organiza-
tional mindfulness scale on the basis of Weick & Sutcliffe’s (2001) focus on individual assessments
of a company’s dedication to stakeholder interests, quality assurance, managing uncertainty, and
positive business practices, finding support for reliability and validity (linked to corporate eth-
ical values as an antecedent and role conflict as an outcome); however, their measure was not
aggregated to a collective measure.
Ray et al. (2011) developed and validated a measure of organizational mindfulness in a sample
of business schools. Their 42-item measure supported five distinct factors corresponding to each
of the five components of collective mindfulness described by Weick et al. (1999), but their mea-
sure was validated at the individual, rather than the collective level. Similarly, Mu & Butler (2009)
validated a five-factor, 38-item measure of organizational mindfulness processes in student and
professional service organization samples. In addition to finding support for their hypothesized
model, they also compared the levels of each of the five factors to top management preferences re-
garding how much each should exist in the organization. Commitment to resilience and deference
to expertise illustrated the largest gap from “ideal” levels in a professional service organization.
Hoy et al. (2006) validated in a sample of middle schools three similar 10-item measures, one
for faculty, one for principals, and one for schools; they found support for aggregating individual
survey responses to the collective level and linked their measures to corresponding measures of
trust. Barrett et al. (2006) developed and validated a two-factor measure of high-reliability or-
ganizations’ perceptions. They found support in a small sample of employees of a Midwestern
fire department for two factors—self-efficacy and organizational risk responsiveness—in a con-
firmatory factor analysis, but did not aggregate their measure nor demonstrate criterion validity.
Although all these measures need further refinement and validation, they are promising in their
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ability to discriminate subcomponents of collective mindfulness and isolate their potential unique
antecedents and consequences.
Other research has also used a range of indirect measures of collective mindfulness as part of
quantitative studies. For example, Vogus & Welbourne (2003) undertook content coding of the
company prospectuses companies filed for their initial public offerings as a way to illustrate how a
set of specific human resource practices led to innovation and firm performance. Mindfulness has
also been indirectly examined using proxies for its absence such as workarounds (Wheeler et al.
2012); using survey measures of related concepts such as care reliability, information reliability,
and pre-emptive conflict handling as assessed by customers (Ndubisi 2012); or by inferring its
existence through a set of specific outcomes (Knox et al. 1999).
Despite the evident progress validating measures of collective mindfulness—with some ex-
ceptions ( e.g., Vogus & Sutcliffe 2007a)—most existing measures of collective mindfulness lack
sufficient discriminant validation from related concepts such as psychological safety (Edmond-
son 1999), safety climate (leader and organizational attention and priority given to safety; Zohar
1980), transactive memory systems (Lewis 2003), team situation awareness (Salas et al. 1995),
and other teamwork behaviors (e.g., backup behavior; LePine et al. 2008), among others. This
represents a key gap because research on collective mindfulness is predicated upon it being a con-
ceptually and empirically distinct construct. In other words, for collective mindfulness research to
make significant inroads in mainstream organizational psychology and organizational behavior,
more construct validation (especially assuring that measures of collective mindfulness are, in fact,
collective measures) and better development of its nomological network are essential.
HOW MINDFULNESS DEVELOPS: EXPLORING ANTECEDENTS
Much research concerned with the development of individual-level mindfulness maintains—and
seeks to demonstrate—that mindfulness can be developed through meditation (e.g., Jensen et al.
2012, Michel et al. 2014, Mrazek et al. 2013, Wolever et al. 2012). Such research takes its cue
from programs such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (Kabat-Zinn 2003) and mindfulness-
based cognitive therapy (Teasdale et al. 2000)—programs designed to help people achieve greater
well-being through systematic and somewhat lengthy (several weeks, in many cases) training con-
sisting of meditation sessions and exercises. Accordingly, in adopting or adapting such programs,
researchers have focused not only on developing mindfulness through meditation but also on
documenting specific outcomes associated with health and well-being [e.g., reduced stress and
improved sleep quality (see Wolever et al. 2012; see also Eberth & Sedlmeier 2012 for a meta-
analysis of meditative training programs and their outcomes)].
Building on the view that mindfulness is a byproduct of meditation—and condensing the
timescale significantly—experimental research has shown that state mindfulness can be activated
through brief meditation-related instructions and exercises (e.g., Hafenbrack et al. 2014, Ostafin
& Kassman 2012, Papies et al. 2012, Reb & Narayanan 2014). For example, Hafenbrack et al.
(2014) induced mindfulness through a 15-minute exercise that involved focusing attention on
one’s breath. Papies et al. (2012) induced mindfulness by displaying pictures to subjects and
instructing them to consider the content—as well as the transience—of their reactions to the
pictures they viewed. That state mindfulness can be induced in a short time frame through a
variety of approaches has likely contributed to the bourgeoning of research on mindfulness in
cognitive and social psychology (fields well-suited to experimental methods).
If one looks beyond research linking mindfulness to meditation, the body of work document-
ing antecedents to individual-level mindfulness is remarkably thin. Through our review of the
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literature, we identified only a handful of studies investigating factors that influence the
development of mindfulness and/or predict its occurrence. Interestingly, compared to other
fields of psychology, organizational psychology and organizational behavior have played a more
pioneering role here.
Dispositional Factors
As noted above, mindfulness can be theorized and measured as both a state and a trait. Although
the origins of trait mindfulness have received little scholarly investigation, research indicates
that trait affect is related to other dispositional characteristics. Through a meta-analysis, Giluk
(2009) found that trait mindfulness is negatively related to neuroticism and positively related to
conscientiousness and trait-level positive affect. To be sure, correlation does not imply causation,
and it is therefore possible that high trait mindfulness explains and predicts a factor such as positive
trait affect rather than the other way around. Even so, it may be the case that trait mindfulness is
not only related to but also explainable via other aspects of one’s personality—a possibility that
gains theoretical import when contrasted with the prospect that mindfulness is primarily a product
of meditation rather than dispositional or genetic influences.
Job Experience
Through a study of paramedics in Austria, researchers found that in acquiring experience,
paramedics increased their level of mindful awareness; however, past a certain level of experi-
ence, mindfulness declined (Mitmansgruber et al. 2008). This finding aligns with the observation
that, through overtraining or entrainment, a higher incidence of mind wandering (and hence, less
mindfulness) is apt to occur within the task domain (Smallwood & Schooler 2006). Nevertheless, a
decline in mindfulness at high levels of experience is perhaps not inevitable in all cases or contexts.
Indeed, from the standpoint of focusing attention widely and drawing multiple distinctions (key
features of mindfulness by varying accounts), a high level of experience may prove invaluable. In an
inductive study of how trial lawyers focus their attention in the courtroom, Dane (2013) found that,
compared to their less experienced colleagues, highly experienced trial attorneys were more adept
at focusing their attention widely across events occurring in the courtroom (e.g., reactions from
the judge, jury members, and opposing counsel) and more attuned to the ways such events could be
enlisted to strengthen their case (e.g., interpreting an unexpected event as a potential opportunity).
As experience is, by its very nature, complex in its character and multifaceted in its consequences
on cognition and behavior, considerably more research is needed to determine whether and how
experience of various forms relates to mindfulness across numerous performance contexts.
Organizational Factors
Through an online survey of working adults, Reb et al. (2015) found that supervisor support was
positively related to employee awareness (a context-specific dimension of mindfulness capturing
employees’ awareness of their experiences, actions, and feelings at work) and that organizational
constraints (e.g., conflicting job demands) were negatively related to employee awareness and
positively related to employee absentmindedness (an additional context-specific dimension of
mindfulness). As research on organizational influences on individual-level mindfulness remains
in its infancy, we perceive much potential for further research in this area. In engaging this
topic, scholars may wish to consider whether and how research on collective mindfulness and its
antecedents (which we now turn to) inform our understanding of mindfulness at an individual level.
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ANTECEDENTS OF COLLECTIVE MINDFULNESS
Consistent with the individual-level literature, there have been longstanding, but largely unan-
swered calls to empirically investigate the antecedents of collective mindfulness (e.g., Argote
2006). A closer read of the relevant literature on collective mindfulness, however, does provide a
suggestive set of leader and organizational antecedents of collective mindfulness.
Leader Behaviors and Practices
Madsen et al. (2006; see also Roberts et al. 2005) documented the effects of two different lead-
ership regimes on collective mindfulness in a pediatric intensive care unit. Specifically, leaders
trained in high-reliability principles implemented continuing staff education, supporting front-
line staff decisions, and postevent debriefings. In other words, a change in leadership resulted in
new practices that empowered the bedside caregiver and enhanced teamwork, resulting in more
mindful interactions among staff (Madsen et al. 2006, Roberts et al. 2005). A subsequent change
in leadership that reverted to a more “traditional” approach undermined collective mindfulness.
Rerup (2009) also used a longitudinal case study to illustrate how Novo Nordisk’s implementation
of the Novo Nordisk Way (e.g., a set of values and practices such as organizational audits and
boundary-spanning facilitators that connected units) fostered greater and sustained attention to
weak signals and overall attention quality. In a study of trauma units, Klein et al. (2006) found that
active leaders with more confidence in themselves and their subordinates more frequently and
skillfully engaged in dynamic delegation (i.e., deference to expertise) in response to the patient’s
condition. Knox et al. (1999) found that clear purpose, language, and procedures were key enablers
of collective mindfulness. A handful of quantitative studies corroborate the importance of trust
in leadership (Hoy et al. 2006, Vogus & Sutcliffe 2007b) and supportive leadership (Ausserhofer
et al. 2013) for collective mindfulness.
Organizational Practices
A wide range of organizational practices that aid collective mindfulness are observed in HROs.
The most consistently documented organizational practices that enable collective mindfulness in-
clude active socialization (e.g., through vivid stories; Weick & Roberts 1993), continuous training
and simulations of rare events (LaPorte & Consolini 1991), and empowerment (i.e., delegating
authority; Roberts et al. 1994). For example, airline flight crews trained in crew resource manage-
ment such as training in effective communication, how to work as a team (e.g., workload sharing),
error detection, and decision making are more mindful in their team communication and pro-
cesses (McKinney et al. 2005). Additional human r esource practices including careful selection
practices (e.g., that minimize hubris; Schulman 1993), positive employee relations’ climate and
extensive training (Vogus & Welbourne 2003), and organizational HR effectiveness (Wheeler
et al. 2012) are associated with indicators of mindfulness (e.g., fewer workarounds). A qualitative
study of railroad operations showed that the combined use of a proactive set of interpersonal
(i.e., communication) and technology-mediated (i.e., radios) monitoring practices aided collective
mindfulness (Roth et al. 2006). Valorinta (2009) offers impressive case studies of two organizations
to illustrate how information technology both enhances and inhibits collective mindfulness. IT
enhances mindfulness by heightening attention through cultivating awareness of IT risks, careful
analysis of issues, and increased organizational collaboration, as well as by enriching action reper-
toires (i.e., providing a toolbox for innovation and mandating change). IT inhibits mindfulness
by routinizing, automating, and otherwise making work inflexible and difficult to enact. Finally,
Barry & Meisiek (2010) suggest that the physical work environment, notably arts-based initiatives,
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can foster mindfulness by directing attention away from immediate work concerns and toward
analogous artifacts in ways that break habitual ways of seeing and believing.
WHY MINDFULNESS MATTERS: INDIVIDUAL AND
ORGANIZATIONAL CONSEQUENCES
Emerging from and catalyzing the growth of research on mindfulness is the observation that
mindfulness matters: It enhances physical and mental well-being (Brown et al. 2007) and improves
performance and cognitive ability across a variety of task domains (e.g., Moore & Gardner 2014,
Schmertz et al. 2009). As noted earlier, some benefits associated with mindfulness are quite striking.
For example, mindfulness-related meditation training has been shown to increase gray matter
density in the human brain (H
¨
olzel et al. 2011a), improve working memory capacity ( Jha et al.
2010), and slow aging (Epel et al. 2009).
Consistent with the aims of this review, we focus on outcomes most pertinent to the work-
place. In doing so, we review research examining the effects of mindfulness on various reflections
of worker well-being (e.g., work-related stress), overall performance in work settings, and perfor-
mance on specific types of tasks found in organizations.
Worker Well-Being
Research has shown that trait mindfulness is positively related to worker well-being across a range
of industries and occupations (e.g., Mitmansgruber et al. 2008, Roche et al. 2014, Schultz et al.
2014). Research has also demonstrated that meditative training programs reduce work-related
stress (e.g., Bazarko et al. 2013, Wolever et al. 2012). Although decreased stress is certainly in
keeping with the intention of such training programs, that mindfulness-based stress reduction
programs have proved beneficial in studies focusing on employees in corporate settings suggests
that the uptick of such programs in industry is not misplaced (see Gelles 2015 for more on the
emergence of meditation and mindfulness in corporate settings).
Further informing our understanding of mindfulness and worker well-being, H
¨
ulsheger et al.
(2013) found through a field experiment with working professionals that mindfulness reduced
emotional exhaustion and increased job satisfaction. Along related lines, research has demon-
strated positive relationships between trait mindfulness and work engagement and its subcom-
ponents (e.g., vigor) (Leroy et al. 2013, Marzuq & Drach-Zahavy 2012). Both correlational and
meditation-based research indicates that mindfulness promotes work/life balance among workers
across multiple industries (Allen & Kiburz 2012, Michel et al. 2014). And in assessing mindful-
ness through a daily diary approach, H
¨
ulsheger et al. (2014) showed that mindfulness at work is
positively associated with sleep quality among working professionals.
There has been very limited attention to the consequences of collective mindfulness for
worker well-being. A recent study by Vogus et al. (2014a) finds a complex relationship between
collective mindfulness and emotional exhaustion in a study of nurses. Specifically, the relationship
between collective mindfulness and emotional exhaustion depended on the group’s performance
history, with collective mindfulness acting as a resource to cope with a history of adverse events
that lowers emotional exhaustion; however, collective mindfulness itself acts as an emotionally
exhausting demand when a group experiences few adverse events. This finding suggests that
collective mindfulness is demanding (Levinthal & Rerup 2006, Schulman 1993, Weick & Sutcliffe
2001), but especially helpful in the most difficult circumstances. In a qualitative study of firefighter
discourse, Scott & Trethewey (2008) found a similarly nuanced relationship with the collective
mindfulness of firefighters being associated with amplifying weak signals and engaging in swift
action for novel threats.
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Overall Performance
Through recent research, scholars have connected mindfulness to global measures of behavior
and performance in the workplace. In a study of nuclear power plant operations, Zhang et al.
(2013) found that trait mindfulness was positively related to job performance for operators who
held jobs high in task complexity (see also Zhang & Wu 2014, for relationships between trait
mindfulness and safety performance in the same industry). Dane & Brummel (2014) found a
positive relationship between workplace mindfulness and job performance among those working
in a dynamic performance environment (the restaurant service industry) that remained significant
when controlling for three dimensions of work engagement. Further, Reb et al. (2015) found
positive relationships between work-related mindfulness and task performance and organizational
citizenship behavior, respectively, within their survey of working adults.
Also relevant to overall performance, Eisenbeiss & van Knippenberg (2015) found that em-
ployees high in trait mindfulness responded more strongly to ethical leadership in terms of the
effort and helping behaviors they put forth. This suggests that, in the presence of an ethical leader,
individuals high in trait mindfulness are more likely to perceive and embrace the values and behav-
iors they perceive in ethical leaders—and to perform accordingly. Mirroring this finding, through
a pair of cross-industry, survey-based studies, Reb et al. (2014) found that the trait mindfulness
of supervisors is positively related to the well-being and performance of their employees. This
finding suggests that the mindfulness of one person in an organization can influence the well-being
and performance of others.
Consistent with collective mindfulness’ connection to high reliability, numerous studies have
qualitatively associated it with greater organizational reliability (LaPorte & Consolini 1991,
Schulman 1993, Weick & Roberts 1993) and more effective response to disasters (Bigley & Roberts
2001), near-disasters (Rerup 2009), and traumas (Klein et al. 2006). In health care contexts, qualita-
tive studies have also linked observed changes in collective mindfulness to mortality rates (Madsen
et al. 2006, Roberts et al. 2005) and clinical outcomes (Knox et al. 1999). Other reanalyses of high
profile disasters such as the Columbia Space Shuttle (Weick 2005), “excess deaths” of pediatric
patients at the Bristol Royal infirmary (Weick & Sutcliffe 2003), and increases in mortality rates
in a pediatric intensive care unit (Madsen et al. 2006, Roberts et al. 2005) have all been used to
show the negative consequences of the absence of collective mindfulness.
A series of quantitative studies in hospital nursing units has found that collective mindfulness
is associated with fewer medication errors (Ausserhofer et al. 2013; Vogus & Sutcliffe 2007a,b)
and patient falls (Vogus & Sutcliffe 2007a). The positive effects of collective mindfulness were
found to be stronger in workgroups that trusted their leaders and most fully implemented stan-
dard operating procedures (i.e., care pathways; Vogus & Sutcliffe 2007b). In an action research
study of five intensive care units, Hales et al. (2012) investigated linkages between a 10-day col-
lective mindfulness intervention and multiple forms of costs and found evidence of a decrease
in the number of negative incidents between a nurse and a patient’s family, a 50% reduction
in the number of failed nurse supervisor inspections, and a slight improvement in patients dis-
charged alive. However, for other costs (e.g., patient length of stay, cost per patient) there were
no effects. Ndubisi (2012) found that three indicators of collective mindfulness (care reliability,
information reliability, and preemptive conflict handling) were positively associated with cus-
tomer orientation, customer satisfaction, and, in turn, customer loyalty in a hospital setting. In
a qualitative study of professional service firms, Hargadon & Bechky (2006) find that mindful
interactions trigger moments of reflective reframing where individuals demonstrate the difficulty
of their problems and share their prior experiences that can help solve them and elicit collective
creativity.
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Task Performance
Through numerous experimental studies, researchers have examined relationships between mind-
fulness and performance on various types of tasks. Such research indicates, for example, that a
core dimension of trait mindfulness, observation of external and internal phenomena, facilitates
the generation of creative ideas (Baas et al. 2014). Similarly, scholars have found that trait mind-
fulness predicts performance on insight problem solving (Ostafin & Kassman 2012) and helps
people maintain cognitive flexibility (Moore & Malinowski 2009). Similarly, research indicates
that, through meditation training, people can overcome rigid patterns of thinking (Greenberg
et al. 2012).
Experimentally induced mindfulness has also been shown to help people avoid falling victim to
the sunk-cost bias (Hafenbrack et al. 2014) and to reduce people’s tendency to emphasize negative
information over positive information (Kiken & Shook 2011)—notable findings given how difficult
it can be to resist or overcome cognitive biases. Equally remarkable, researchers demonstrated that
individuals who participated in a two-week mindfulness-training course improved their Graduate
Record Exam reading comprehension scores significantly (Mrazek et al. 2013).
Additionally, research indicates that mindfulness can improve performance in negotiations.
Specifically, Reb & Narayanan (2014) found that individuals assigned to perform a short exercise
designed to foster mindfulness claimed more value than others on a distributive negotiation task.
Although t his result points to a competitive benefit of mindfulness, research suggests as well
that mindfulness can foster cohesiveness and thereby increase the performance of work groups. In
particular, Cleirigh & Greaney (2015) found that groups composed of people who participated in a
brief mindfulness intervention outperformed control condition groups on a decision-making task.
Research has also linked mindfulness to the moral domain. Here, researchers have observed
that trait mindfulness is negatively related to unethical behavior on tasks susceptible to cheating
or misreporting (Ruedy & Schweitzer 2010) and that mindfulness-related training is positively
related to compassionate behavior (Lim et al. 2015). Along related lines, research indicates that
both experimentally induced mindfulness and trait mindfulness are negatively related to retaliatory
behavior in the face of injustice (Long & Christian 2015).
Although, generally, research paints a favorable portrait of the consequences of mindfulness for
well-being, overall performance, and task performance, a few studies have exposed performance-
related risks and limitations of mindfulness. In particular, experimental research has demonstrated
that trait mindfulness is negatively related to both implicit learning (Stillman et al. 2014) and
performance on judgments of semantic coherence (Remmers et al. 2015). Such findings serve
notice that mindfulness is not categorically beneficial—a point worth considering as research
trumpeting the merits of mindfulness continues to blossom.
How Does Mindfulness Work? Unpacking the Mechanisms
As research documenting the consequences of mindfulness (especially its benefits) has grown,
scholars have devoted thought to how and why mindfulness contributes to the outcomes reviewed
above. Echoing historical perspectives on the benefits of mindfulness, scholars have made the
argument that, in a mindful state, individuals tend to be less likely to internalize the phenomena and
events that surround or befall them. That is, by focusing on the here-and-now and remaining open
to and accepting of unfolding events, individuals defray the tendency to take things personally—a
tendency that can leave people vulnerable to interpreting events as a reflection or indictment of
who they are (Ryan & Brown 2003). In reperceiving (Shapiro et al. 2006) the world in a manner
that promotes the decoupling of self (Glomb et al. 2011), individuals are less prone to provocation
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or indignation and more open, curious, and content—qualities promoting self-insight and mental
and physical well-being (Carlson 2013).
Linking mindfulness to a concept popular in the psychological sciences, researchers have also
argued that mindfulness facilitates self-regulation (e.g., Glomb et al. 2011, H
¨
olzel et al. 2011b,
Shapiro et al. 2006) and have suggested that, through meditative training, people can develop
their self-regulatory capacities (Masicampo & Baumeister 2007). By its nature, self-regulation
enables people to assume greater control over their actions and thus reduces their dependence
on automatic mental processes (Glomb et al. 2011). Consistent with the view that mindfulness
improves self-regulation and thereby reduces automatic responding, experimental research, for
example, has demonstrated that individuals induced toward a mindful state are less impulsive
in their reactions to attractive food than others (Papies et al. 2012). Experimental research also
indicates that mindfulness reduces people’s vulnerability to implicit biases concerning age and
race (Lueke & Gibson 2015).
Complementing these observations, research indicates that mindfulness can improve a sub-
component of self-regulation—emotion regulation—which in turn helps workers resist engaging
in surface acting, an approach associated with emotional exhaustion (H
¨
ulsheger et al. 2013). As
self-regulation is associated with a wide range of salutary and performance-related outcomes (see
Tangney et al. 2004), the self-regulatory benefits of mindfulness may help account for the effects
of mindfulness on both well-being and performance.
Individual and collective mindfulness may also produce favorable outcomes in the workplace
through the interplay with perception and interpretation. In many work contexts, it is critical
for individuals to attend closely to their surroundings, as the events and phenomena occurring
around them may contain key information and, at times, signal potential threats (Bazerman 2014,
Ocasio 2011). Mindfulness should prove pivotal in this regard given its wide attentional breadth
(Dane 2011). Furthermore, mindfulness may increase the vividness with which people interpret
their surroundings (Valentine et al. 2010, Weick & Sutcliffe 2006), especially searching for (and
finding) weak signals of impending danger (Rerup 2009). By its nature, attentional vividness enables
people to see more nuances and complexities in the events they observe. Thus, attentional vividness
should enable workers to identify opportunities associated with their present circumstances and
help them perform effectively (Dane 2013, Rerup 2009).
The five processes comprising collective mindfulness are seen to operate through social pro-
cesses such as conversations. The content and form of conversations constitute important mecha-
nisms through which collective mindfulness influences outcomes including coproduction and co-
completion of utterances (Cooren 2004, 2006), reflective reframing (Hargadon & Bechky 2006),
questioning working hypotheses and rigorously discussing errors and the possibility that some-
thing was missed (Madsen et al. 2006, Roberts et al. 2005), and portraying hazards in uncertain and
novel terms (Scott & Trethewey 2008). The larger system of interaction surrounding conversa-
tion, including shared shorthands (McKinney et al. 2005), shared mental models (Roth et al. 2006),
common beliefs regarding organizing practices (McPhee et al. 2006), and how one’s interactions
fit into and support the system (Weick & Roberts 1993), also importantly shapes the specific
content of conversations. Collective mindfulness also cultivates feelings of efficacy, empowerment
(Klein et al. 2006), and a learning orientation (G
¨
artner 2013).
The mechanisms reviewed here are not mutually exclusive and, indeed, may coincide in some
cases. For example, as some researchers have suggested, decoupling of self may either give rise to
(Shapiro et al. 2006) or follow from (Glomb et al. 2011) self-regulation. Similarly, for collective
mindfulness, discourse and norms or systems of interaction are reciprocally and tightly linked.
Nevertheless, some mechanisms may be more pertinent to some outcomes than others. In the
realm of well-being, for example, decoupling of self and self-regulation may prove paramount
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whereas, when it comes to job performance, self-regulation, attentional vividness, or conversational
practice may be more relevant.
FUTURE RESEARCH DIRECTIONS
Our review illustrates the significant theoretical and empirical progress in the mindfulness litera-
tures. Reflecting its comparative maturity, the individual mindfulness literature exhibits consider-
able measurement sophistication (multiple, validated measures), well-established antecedents and
interventions, and linkages with a range of outcomes. Work on its mechanisms, as described above,
merits further conceptual development and empirical study. Collective mindfulness research ex-
hibits impressive conceptual coherence and a growing body of qualitative and quantitative work,
but at the same time more needs to be done to expand its reach beyond HROs to organizational
psychology and organizational behavior more broadly (e.g., Carlo et al. 2012; Fiol & O’Connor
2003; Levinthal & Rerup 2006; Weick & Sutcliffe 2001, chapter 1; Weick & Sutcliffe 2007, pp. 18–
21) perhaps by exploring more prosaic contexts (e.g., Ndubisi 2012) or a wider range of outcomes
(e.g., the search for and construction of entrepreneurial opportunities; Barton 2010, Rerup 2005,
Vogus & Welbourne 2003). Despite these significant strides, opportunities remain for f urther
research at the individual and collective levels, as we have suggested throughout the review. In
our discussion we focus on future research that capitalizes on what we see as the unique strength
of organizational researchers—cross-level studies of mindfulness (see Table 3 for a summary of
questions for future research). We include both conceptual and empirical approaches to better
integrating individual and collective mindfulness.
CROSS-LEVEL MINDFULNESS RESEARCH
Evidence is building that is suggestive of a multilevel and reciprocal relationship between individ-
ual and collective mindfulness. For example, leaders who initiate more mindful social processes
such as appreciative inquiry and scenario planning, engage diverse stakeholders, and fuel efforts
to be in the present by considering new perspectives, categories, and new information may fuel
individual mindfulness (Fiol & O’Connor 2003, Ritchie-Dunham 2014). Alternatively, research
by Cleirigh & Greaney (2015) suggests that individual mindfulness influences group interactions
and group/organizational performance. Schultz et al. (2014) find that individual mindfulness re-
duces defensive responses to some situations. Naturally we can speculate the s alutary mechanisms
through which lower defensiveness may influence collective interactions. However, given that
research is limited, we might simply conclude that individual mindfulness may matter to col-
lective mindfulness. More research is needed to create a generalizable multimethod model for
mindfulness, which combines top-down and bottom-up mechanisms. We offer numerous possi-
bilities for future research starting with the interplay of individual and collective mindfulness and
moving to top-down cultural and organizational enablers of mindfulness, bottom-up mechanisms
through which mindfulness imprints culture, and close with the potential importance of affective
mechanisms.
Individual and Collective Mindfulness
One of the most important unanswered questions relates to the form of the relationship between
individual and collective mindfulness. Is there a relationship? If so, to what extent are individual
and organizational mindfulness linked? Although the early conception of collective mindfulness
grew out of Langer’s (1989a) research on individual mindfulness, collective mindfulness was not
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Table 3 Areas for future research
Research need Potential research questions
The relationship between individual and
collective mindfulness
Is there a relationship between individual and collective mindfulness?
What level of individual mindfulness is necessary for a group to be collectively m indful?
Can a single mindful individual induce collective mindfulness?
Does the mean level or spread in individual mindfulness matter more for collective
mindfulness?
Do the effects of individual mindfulness on collective mindfulness depend on supportive
leaders or organizational processes (e.g., group norms)?
Does collective mindfulness influence individual mindfulness? If so, does it require
sustained exposure to collective mindfulness?
National culture and mindfulness Do cultures characterized by a focus on the present observe higher levels of individual
and collective mindfulness?
Are collectivistic cultures and their attendant levels of interdependent selves, dialectical
thinking, and duality associated with higher levels of individual and collective
mindfulness?
Organizational culture and practice
antecedents of mindfulness
What are nonmeditative means by which organizations can foster individual mindfulness?
Are leader inclusiveness and a climate of psychological safety associated with higher levels
of collective mindfulness?
How does collective mindfulness shape organizational culture over time?
Contextual boundary conditions on
mindfulness–performance relationship
Do the positive performance effects of individual and collective mindfulness only hold for
complex or dynamic work environments and jobs?
Are the performance benefits of individual and collective mindfulness greater than the
costs of inducing mindfulness (e.g., mindfulness training)?
Affective underpinnings of mindfulness Does emotion regulation in the form of feeling rules reduce arousal and foster greater
individual and collective mindfulness?
Do affective forecasting accuracy and emotional intelligence result in higher levels of
individual and collective mindfulness?
Does emotional ambivalence (e.g., simultaneous doubt and hope) sustain collective
mindfulness over time?
grounded in an assumption that individual mindfulness is a necessary precondition for it. It is
possible, however, that the thought processes of individual mindfulness are an antecedent. If
individual mindfulness does augur collective m indfulness, what is the composition of the group
necessary to produce collective mindfulness? Does the average level of individual mindfulness
matter more or the dispersion of levels? Alternatively, can a single highly mindful individual
through processes resembling minority influence (e.g., Nemeth & Staw 1989) foster higher
levels of collective mindfulness? Are factors such as group norms or leader behaviors necessary
for translating individual mindfulness into collective mindfulness? It is also possible, and worth
exploring, that sustained engagement with a group exhibiting the rich patterns of acting and
interacting of mindful organizing correspondingly influences individual mindfulness.
National Culture
Along related lines, scholars could explore whether the degree to which employees tend to be
mindful varies from one culture to another (across the same types of positions and organizations).
This possibility finds support in research suggesting that national cultures differ in the degree to
which they are oriented toward the past, present, and future, respectively (e.g., Guo et al. 2012,
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Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner 1998). It is perhaps the case, for example, that mindfulness
tends be high in nations characterized by a high focus on the present. At the same time, it may
be the case that, as with individuals, cultures can rank high (or low) across all three temporal
targets (see Shipp et al. 2009)—and that certain combinations (e.g., focusing highly not only on
the present but also the past and/or the future) may be well-suited to mindfulness. Through
empirical investigation, researchers could assess these possibilities and, more generally, explore
how the routing of attention within and across time at the individual level is shaped by the broader
cultural environments (both organizational and national) in which individuals work. Similarly,
collective mindfulness may be more likely to emerge and be sustained in collectivistic cultures
frequently characterized by a strong interdependent self (Markus & Kitayama 1991), dialectical
thinking (Peng & Nisbett 1999), or organizational capabilities for duality (Farjoun 2010), all of
which merit exploration.
Organizational Culture and Practices
Research is also underdeveloped with regard to where, when, and how mindfulness arises in
work settings. Although some prominent corporations, including Google and General Mills, have
adopted meditation training designed to foster mindfulness among their employees (see Gelles
2015), it is perhaps safe to assume that, at least in corporate America, such practices remain
the exception to the rule. Nevertheless, various aspects of organizations, such as their level of
supportiveness (Reb et al. 2015), may shape the degree to which an organization’s members are
individually mindful, regardless of whether the organization has instituted programs specifically
designed to develop employee mindfulness. By pursuing this observation further, scholars could
deepen our understanding of the interplay between organizational factors and individual-level
mindfulness and gain insight into how mindfulness in organizations can be fostered or “managed”
through nonmeditative means. Similar organizational practices can also fuel collective mindfulness
as they instill and shape the social practice. Factors such as psychological safety (Edmondson 1999),
where members of a workgroup feel safe to take an interpersonal risk, or leader inclusiveness
(Nembhard & Edmondson 2006), whereby leaders solicit divergent opinions from workgroup
members, might be especially promising for fostering collective mindfulness. In addition, mindful
organizing may have a reciprocal relationship with the content of an organization’s culture. That is,
the interactions occurring through processes of mindful organizing (e.g., questioning assumptions,
attempting to learn from small discrepancies and deviations) may reinforce, or even amplify,
cultural values such as psychological safety, learning orientation, reflection, and learning. The
top-down effects of culture and organizational practices on both forms of mindfulness as well as
the bottom-up process t hrough which mindful processes shape culture merit further exploration.
Contextual Boundary Conditions
Although research points to the performance benefits of mindfulness in the workplace, our review
suggests that these benefits may be amplified within (or perhaps limited to) specific contexts
(e.g., dynamic work environments or complex jobs). Further work is therefore needed to better
understand the circumstances under which mindfulness is conducive to performance and, as noted
above, the forms of performance to which it is conducive, especially at the organizational level.
Another contextual boundary condition that has received little attention in existing research is the
cost of mindfulness. In collective mindfulness research, this question has received little attention
because for HROs the costs of a disaster (e.g., nuclear meltdown) outweigh virtually any investment
to avoid it. However, making individual and collective mindfulness applicable to a wider array of
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contexts depends on a more careful measurement of the costs of developing it and the benefits
achieved relative to those costs (e.g., the cost of individual mindfulness training relative to its
benefits on productivity, turnover, etc.). It would also be useful to understand when and why
mainstream organizations pursue these processes of mindful organizing in the absence of obvious
threats (Sutcliffe & Vogus 2014).
Affective Mechanisms
Emotion regulation (i.e., reducing arousal) is a mechanism that seems to underlie individual mind-
fulness and could help bridge individual and collective forms of mindfulness. Individual mindful-
ness research finds that mindfulness fosters emotion regulation that reduces emotional exhaustion
(H
¨
ulsheger et al. 2013). The salutary effects of emotion regulation might help collectives sustain
the demanding processes of mindful organizing (Schulman 1993), especially in trying conditions.
Thus, emotion regulation may be a promising mechanism by which individual mindfulness fosters
collective mindfulness. In addition, group or organizational feeling rules (Hochschild 1979) may
help regulate emotion and guide interpretations in ways that foster individual and/or collective
mindfulness. Other affective mechanisms also seem promising for future research, including emo-
tional intelligence and affective forecasting accuracy in accounting for the benefits of mindfulness
(see Emanuel et al. 2010, Schutte & Malouff 2011). Vogus et al. (2014b) have previously outlined
how emotional ambivalence, the simultaneous experience of two emotions, in the form of simul-
taneous doubt and hope may help sustain collective mindfulness in HROs. The role of emotional
ambivalence for individual and collective mindfulness also merits empirical investigation.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE AND CONCLUSION
Although operating differently, mindfulness in individuals and collectives has far-reaching benefits
for health and well-being, work meaningfulness, and individual and organizational performance.
Thus, two courses of action seem merited: (a) Leaders and their organizations should think about
individual and collective forms of mindfulness as targets for intervention, and (b) careful con-
sideration should be paid to the range of interventions documented to elicit mindfulness (e.g.,
mindfulness training, careful selection and staffing, and leader behaviors). In other words, we en-
dorse a holistic approach to assessing an organization’s mindfulness needs and one that chooses
the focus based on where mindfulness is most critical to the organization (e.g., for individual,
independent task performance or team-based work) and the employee.
Mindful engagement with one’s life and work has been of enduring interest to philosophers,
practitioners, and scholars alike. We have moved beyond more general treatments of mindfulness
as a cognitive phenomenon to illustrate how, in organizations, individual mindfulness is contex-
tually embedded and processes of collective mindfulness are socially enabled and enacted with
both forms of mindfulness significantly benefitting individuals and their organizations in multiple
ways. We argue that an organizational perspective on mindfulness holds promise for developing an
integrated multilevel theory of mindfulness by fully depicting the varied ways in which individual
mindfulness, collective mindfulness, and organizational context are mutually constitutive.
DISCLOSURE STATEMENT
The authors are not aware of any affiliations, memberships, funding, or financial holdings that
might be perceived as affecting the objectivity of this review.
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
We would like to thank Sue Ashford and Fred Morgeson for constructive and insightful feedback,
which improved greatly the coherence of our contribution. We also thank Samuel Hughes for his
help early on with the literature.
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Annual Review
of Organizational
Psychology and
Organizational
Behavior
Volume 3, 2016
Contents
Stumbling Toward a Social Psychology of Organizations: An
Autobiographical Look at the Direction of Organizational Research
Barry M. Staw ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp1
Team-Centric Leadership: An Integrative Review
Steve W.J. Kozlowski, Stanton Mak, and Georgia T. Chao pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp21
Mindfulness in Organizations: A Cross-Level Review
Kathleen M. Sutcliffe, Timothy J. Vogus, and Erik Dane pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp55
Themes in Expatriate and Repatriate Research over Four Decades:
What Do We Know and What Do We Still Need to Learn?
Maria Kraimer, Mark Bolino, and Brandon Mead ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp83
Identity Under Construction: How Individuals Come to Define
Themselves in Organizations
Blake E. Ashforth and Beth S. Schinoff pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp111
Dyadic Relationships
Robert C. Liden, Smriti Anand, and Prajya Vidyarthi ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp139
Genetics and Organizational Behavior
Richard D. Arvey, Wen-Dong Li, and Nan Wang ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp167
Safety Climate in Organizations
Mark A. Griffin and Matteo Curcuruto ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp191
To Seek or Not to Seek: Is That the Only Question? Recent
Developments in Feedback-Seeking Literature
Susan J. Ashford, Katleen De Stobbeleir, and Mrudula Nujella ppppppppppppppppppppppppp213
Dynamic Modeling
Mo Wang, Le Zhou, and Zhen Zhang ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp241
Learner Control and e-Learning: Taking Stock and Moving Forward
Kenneth G. Brown, Garett Howardson, and Sandra L. Fisher ppppppppppppppppppppppppppp267
vii
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Charisma: An Ill-Defined and Ill-Measured Gift
John Antonakis, Nicolas Bastardoz, Philippe Jacquart, and Boas Shamir ppppppppppppppp293
The Nonconscious at Work
Michael G. Pratt and Eliana Crosina pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp321
How Technology Is Changing Work and Organizations
Wayne F. Cascio and Ramiro Montealegre pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp349
Impression Management in Organizations: Critical Questions,
Answers, and Areas for Future Research
Mark Bolino, David Long, and William Turnley ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp377
Employer Image and Employer Branding: What We Know and What
We Need to Know
Filip Lievens and Jerel E. Slaughter ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp407
The Social Context of Decisions
Richard P. Larrick ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp441
Adaptive Measurement and Assessment
Matt Barney and William P. Fisher Jr. ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp469
Errata
An online log of corrections to Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and
Organizational Behavior articles may be found at http://www.annualreviews.org/
errata/orgpsych
viii Contents
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... Because collective mindfulness is enacted through a dynamic process of social action and interaction, it is also referred to as mindful organizing (MO; Sutcliffe et al., 2016), to emphasize its non-static, ever-evolving nature. Originally, the concept of MO was developed to explain how High-Reliability Organizations (HROs) develop capacity to avoid catastrophic failure and perform in nearly error-free ways despite operating in extreme, stressful conditions; however, its scope has expanded to also apply to teams and organizations that are capable of being aware of the status quo in order to improve it, refusing to operate on "auto pilot" (Fiol and O'Connor, 2003;Sutcliffe et al., 2016). ...
... Because collective mindfulness is enacted through a dynamic process of social action and interaction, it is also referred to as mindful organizing (MO; Sutcliffe et al., 2016), to emphasize its non-static, ever-evolving nature. Originally, the concept of MO was developed to explain how High-Reliability Organizations (HROs) develop capacity to avoid catastrophic failure and perform in nearly error-free ways despite operating in extreme, stressful conditions; however, its scope has expanded to also apply to teams and organizations that are capable of being aware of the status quo in order to improve it, refusing to operate on "auto pilot" (Fiol and O'Connor, 2003;Sutcliffe et al., 2016). ...
... Second, while prominent mindfulness debates focus on mindfulness as an inner quality (Bishop et al., 2004;Kabat-Zinn, 2005), mindfulness in organizations is generally considered as a concept that stretches beyond individual-level considerations. In fact, workplace mindfulness is a cross-level construct, embedded in interpersonal relations and interactions, emerging through meditative as well as nonmeditative practices, by individuals as well as by groups of people interacting with each other mindfully (Sutcliffe et al., 2016). Moreover, mindfulness is not the same as meditation. ...
Article
Full-text available
Mindfulness has come to be considered an important approach to help individuals cultivate transformative capacity to free themselves from stress and suffering. However, the transformative potential of mindfulness extends beyond individual stress management. This study contributes to a broadening of the scope of contemplative science by integrating the prominent, individually focused mindfulness meditation literature with collective mindfulness scholarship. In so doing, it aims to illuminate an important context in which mindfulness interventions are increasingly prevalent: workplaces. Typically, the intended effect of workplace mindfulness training is to help workers manage stress better. Since mindfulness in organizations impacts individual and collective processes, the study blends the above literatures to create a cross-level “next-generation” Team Mindfulness Training (TMT) pilot. Its potential in helping individuals and teams to manage work stress better is investigated via a two-phase mixed-methods research study in high-stress military work populations, and compared to a conventional (“first-generation”) 8-week mindfulness meditation program based on mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). Results suggest that compared to the “first-generation” mindfulness program, TMT seems no less effective in raising individual stress management skills, and may hold more promise in generating collective capacity to manage stress and unexpected difficulty, linked to an apparent interdependence between collective and individual mindfulness capacity development. Based on these empirical results, the study contributes to theory in three important ways: first, it outlines how individual and collective mindfulness in workplaces may be interdependent. Second, it explains why “next-generation” workplace training interventions should apply a cross-level approach. And third, it illustrates how its transformative potential for people at work, individually as well as collectively, can be extended by moving beyond an inward-looking meditation focus in mindfulness training. The study contributes to practice by providing a detailed outline of the pilot TMT program, and offers a series of follow-up research opportunities to inspire further scientific innovation in workplace mindfulness training, especially for high-stress work populations. The study’s ultimate aim is to prompt a shift away from adapting clinically oriented, self-focused “first-generation” mindfulness training protocols, and towards mindfulness as team sport: a more prosocially oriented mindfulness science intent on generating wisdom and compassion, for one and all.
... The design of the tentative solution was formed around empowerment (of employees) and active socialization, which have been found effective for enhancing collective mindfulness (Sutcliffe et al., 2016). We assumed that these processes of collective mindfulness could be instilled into an SME through a workshop for facilitating the emergence of traits of collective mindfulness (Vogus & Sutcliffe, 2012) by enabling integration of expertise and knowledge across different organizational functions and levels (Kendall et al., 2005), organizing socialization and discussion around IT infrastructure as an object of interest. ...
... Last, we reflect on our learning on the facilitation of collective mindfulness through interventions (Sutcliffe et al., 2016). Our primary interest was to fulfill the practical needs (i.e., to design a BC management approach, which considers SME-specific requirements emanating from their limited available resources). ...
... Obtaining both business and IT experts simultaneously in a workshop requires top management commitment on BC. While we have no conclusive evidence on the effects of the artifact on collective mindfulness, these observations provide further support for existing discussions (Sutcliffe et al., 2016) and propose that visualizations of the organizational infrastructure can foreground the "invisible background" (Star & Ruhleder, 1996) and encourage commitment to resilience and reluctance to simplify interpretations. ...
Article
Full-text available
Business continuity (BC) management is an organizational approach to prepare information systems (ISs) for incidents, but such approaches are found to be uncommon among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Past research indicates a gap in approaches that are designed for SME's since BC management approaches tend originate from larger organizations and SMEs lack the resources to implement them. To fill this gap, and to respond to a practical need by an IT consultancy company, we employed design science research (DSR) to develop a BC approach for SMEs coined as 'Thrifty BC Management Approach.' Jointly with the company's practitioners, we developed a set of meta-requirements for BC approaches for SMEs anchored in prior BC literature, the practitioners' practical expertise, and the theories of collective mindfulness and socio-technical systems. We evaluated our Thrifty BC Management Approach with multiple SMEs. These evaluations suggest that the designed approach mostly meets the defined meta-requirements. Moreover, the evaluations offered ample opportunities for learning. The design process, unfolding in a real-world setting, was precarious, rife with contingencies and ad hoc decisions. To render transparent the design process, we adapt four writing conventions from the confessional research genre familiar to ethnographic research but novel to DSR. We offer a threefold contribution. First, we contribute to SMEs' BC with meta-requirements and their instantiation in a new BC approach (artifact); second, we contribute with four practices of confessional writing for transparency of DSR research; and third, we contribute with reflections on our theoretical learning from throughout the design process.
... Several definitions have been given of mindfulness, but all of them share two characteristics: Firstly, mindfulness focuses on the awareness in individual's present experience in terms of external and internal present-moment states (e.g., sounds, body sensations, thoughts, and emotional reactions), which is also called "watchfulness" [84]. Secondly, mindfulness involves adopting an open attitude toward one's experience [83,85]. ...
... Moreover, in five experiments conducted by Hafenbrack and Vohs [98], a single mindfulness practice weakened energy (arousal) and task motivation. The induction of a mindfulness state reduces energy directed toward accomplishing upcoming tasks [85] and, consequently, task motivation [99,100]. Furthermore, in a recent review Bartlett and colleagues [101] found that highly committed mindfulness training (e.g., 10 h training plus 30 minutes' daily homework) could increase, rather than decrease, employees' stress, especially if the training was expressly built for "at risk" employees [102,103]. ...
... In conclusion, research on mindfulness has grown rapidly in the organizational context in recent years [85,111,142,143], as well as organizational attention to design healthy environment for workers [144][145][146][147]. However, further studies are needed to understand how (behavioral, cognitive, and affective mechanisms) situational factors (e.g., physical environment) may affect mindfulness practice and its beneficial effects on workers. ...
Article
Full-text available
In recent years, work-related stress has grown exponentially and the negative impact that this condition has on people’s health is considerable. The effects of work-related stress can be distinguished in those that affect workers (e.g., depression and anxiety) and those that affect the company (e.g., absenteeism and productivity). It is possible to distinguish two types of prevention interventions. Individual interventions aim at promoting coping and individual resilience strategies with the aim of modifying cognitive assessments of the potential stressor, thus reducing its negative impact on health. Mindfulness techniques have been found to be effective stress management tools that are also useful in dealing with stressful events in the workplace. Organizational interventions modify the risk factors connected to the context and content of the work. It was found that a restorative workplace (i.e., with natural elements) reduces stress and fatigue, improving work performance. Furthermore, practicing mindfulness in nature helps to improve the feeling of wellbeing and to relieve stress. In this paper, we review the role of mindfulness-based practices and of contact with nature in coping with stressful situations at work, and we propose a model of coping with work-related stress by using mindfulness in nature-based practices.
... Langer's conceptualization of mindfulness is frequently adopted in organizational-level research, where mindfulness is defined as "the capacity of groups and individuals to be acutely aware of significant details, to notice errors in the making, and to have the shared expertise and freedom to act on what they notice" (as cited in Sutcliffe et al., 2016). The application of mindfulness in a group level has led to other common terms, such as collective mindfulness (Aanestad & Jensen, 2016), mindful organizing (Weick & Sutcliffe, 2001), and organizational mindfulness (Ray et al., 2011). ...
Article
Mindfulness is gaining popularity in organizations, with management placing increased importance on the quality of life of employees while responding to the demands of today's environment. Current research explains the effects of mindfulness on management constructs by basing their studies on either Eastern or Western conceptualizations of mindfulness. This article combines the Buddhist teachings used in the Eastern perspective with the scientific-based Western thought in an attempt to gain a deeper understanding of mindfulness and the components that lead to its benefits. The mindfulness process is portrayed through a spectrum, which explains the states of mind and qualities developed before reaching the "ready to use" state in the workplace context. The development of the mindfulness spectrum contributes to the academic field and provides a more detailed understanding of mindfulness for management to further apply in the organizational context. In addition, the elaboration of the mindfulness process opens more areas for future studies in mindfulness and management literatures.
... Against the backdrop of the shared goal, team members are encouraged to track possible misassumptions and to question known routines (Kayes, 2015). Resilience on organizational level also stems from processes that encourage mindfulness (Sutcliffe, Vogus, & Dane, 2016). The project team needs to understand the situation and to have the feeling of manageability. ...
Article
Full-text available
For some time, the term resilience has been used in project management research to address the ability to organize under a variety of scenarios of uncertainty and sudden change, including disruptions in the form of shocks or stressors. This paper examines the prerequisites in projects, organizations, and teams as well as individuals for resilient management of projects based on two complementary empirical sources First, the results of eight case vignettes based on semi-structured online interviews with project management practitioners are presented. Subsequently, results were reviewed and enriched with the experiences of experienced project managers in a group discussion. Findings highlight the importance of preparation and awareness, diversity and equality in the team and information relationships. On the other hand, resilient organizations are characterized more formalization, centralized and individualistic decision-making. Above all project managers acting prudently and flexibly along the time axis from incubation to coping and recovery.
Article
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This study, inspired by the conceptual framework adapted into school settings by Hoy, investigated teacher and school level factors predicting school mindfulness, and employed an explanatory sequential mixed-methods design. Quantitative data came from 1354 teachers nested in 69 middle schools in Ankara. The role of teacher (gender, age, level of education, length of time with principal, years of experience in school, total years of experience in teaching, number of days attended professional development activities) and school level factors (school size, mode of schooling, class size, organizational trust, collective teacher efficacy, academic press) on the school mindfulness variation within and between schools was explored by HLM. Results revealed that 12,7% of the total variance in school mindfulness originates from between school variations, length of time with principal is a significant yet negative predictor at teacher level, and teacher trust in principal, teacher trust in colleagues and collective efficacy in student discipline are significant predictors at school level. All significant teacher and school level predictors explain 96.9% of the between school variation in school mindfulness. In the second phase, an embedded single case design was adopted, and 12 semi-structured interviews were made with school principals, who scored the highest and the lowest in principal mindfulness subscale of the M-Scale, based on teachers' responses within the former phase. Qualitative data was analyzed by theoretical thematic analysis method. For triangulation, unstructured observations and school websites were also analyzed. This study concludes that trust, dynamic collaboration and mutual communication in schools enhance mindfulness by increasing the capacity for problem-solving, sharing decision-making and learning together.
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This study investigates the underexplored relationship between mindful organisational infrastructure (psychological safety, team learning, team voice, supportive leadership) and employee innovation adoption, via direct and indirect relationships of organisational mindfulness (a firm’s cultural characteristic that makes employees alert to solve issues and improve effective cooperation). We studied this through a survey among 115 managers/owners of Dutch logistics companies, a sector in which employees’ occupational health, safety and wellbeing (HSW), and sustainability topics are under pressure. The relationships were investigated using path analysis based on linear regression models. Results show that employee innovation adoption was positively related to supportive leadership, and to the presence of organisational mindfulness. The presence of team voice has an indirect relation with employee innovation adoption as it was mediated by organisational mindfulness. These findings suggest that organisations should facilitate team voice and supportive leadership, as well as organisational mindfulness to successfully achieve employee innovation adoption in order to stay innovative and competitive. A future research agenda and implications for practice are discussed.
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In this chapter, we review key concepts of team functioning and mindful team leadership. Next, we review recent theoretical and empirical mindfulness research as it relates to teams and leadership and discuss the role that mindfulness (both mindfulness of team members and of leaders) may have in improving overall team functioning. We offer two guided mindfulness practices: walking meditation and a seated mindfulness meditation. We end the chapter by offering some practical suggestions and additional resources to motivate your own mindfulness practice.
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The assumption that mindfulness facilitates the access to intuitive processes has been theoretically formulated but not investigated yet. Therefore, the present study explored whether the intuitive performance in a judgment of semantic coherence task of N = 94 participants was related to trait mindfulness. In contrast to our hypothesis, self-reported mindful-ness and the mindfulness facet, acting without judgment in specific, were negatively associated with intuitive performance. In an exploratory part of the study, we induced mindfulness, rumination, and distraction. We expected that participants in the mindfulness condition would outperform participants in the other two conditions in the intuition task. Even though we used a well-established paradigm to induce mindfulness, there were no differences between groups in intuition. We propose that future studies investigating the impact of mindfulness on processes such as intuition, should use more intensive manipulations of mindfulness. Possible explanations for the current findings and limitations are discussed.
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The increasingly complex and volatile nature of organizational environments and technologies exposes many organizations to unexpected, unpredictable, and uncertain vulnerabilities. A growing stream of organization theory proposes that the capability to adapt flexibly in real time results from organizing processes that foster collective mindfulness. Collective mindfulness encompasses rich awareness of discriminatory detail coupled with wise action that enables organizations to more quickly sense and manage complex, ill-structured contingencies. In this chapter, we review the literature on collective mindfulness, particularly, the organizing processes through which mindfulness is achieved. We begin by examining its conceptual origin in research on high reliability organizations, review some recent empirical research, and explore how mindful organizing integrates Western and Eastern conceptions. We end by proposing avenues for future research.
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High Reliability Organizations (HROs) have been treated as exotic outliers in mainstream organizational theory because of their unique potentials for catastrophic consequences and interactively complex technology. We argue that HROs are more central to the mainstream because they provide a unique window into organizational effectiveness under trying conditions. HROs enact a distinctive though not unique set of cognitive processes directed at proxies for failure, tendencies to simplify, sensitivity to operations, capabilities for resilience, and temptations to overstructure the system. Taken together these processes induce a state of collective mindfulness that creates a rich awareness of discriminatory detail and facilitates the discovery and correction of errors capable of escalation into catastrophe. Though distinctive, these processes are not unique since they are a dormant infrastructure for process improvement in all organizations. Analysis of HROs suggests that inertia is not indigenous to organizing, that routines are effective because of their variation, that learning may be a byproduct of mindfulness, and that garbage cans may be safer than hierarchies.