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March 19, 2021
Journal of Management, Ahead of Print. Organizational scholarship has recently begun to treat personality as malleable in workplace settings and has called for personality change to be incorporated into current research. The lack of a comprehensive, theoretical model of organizational personality change is a critical impediment to this research. We integrate recent advances in biological and epigenetic fields with the cognitive appraisal, personality, and stress literatures to introduce a comprehensive model of short- and long-term organizational personality change. This model explains when, how, and why appraisal of workplace stress alters employee personality through three important neurochemical systems and the mechanisms through which changes in these systems differentially impact dimensions of the Five Factor personality framework. By examining epigenetic changes affecting neurochemical systems, we explain how appraisal of chronic workplace stress can lead to long-term changes in various personality traits—a relationship with substantial implications for both practice and research. This model further provides a roadmap to understand how short- and long-term employee personality change influences workplace outcomes at the individual, team, and organizational levels and how interventions at these levels can mitigate or reverse deleterious effects of workplace stressors on employee personality change. We outline the processes necessary for organizational scholars to test the propositions described here and more robustly incorporate personality change into organizational scholarship.
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Author: Jarvis Smallfield