Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
The International Journal of Human Resource Management
For a Special Issue on
Employee Accountability: Accounting for Unaccounted and Under-Studied Employees
15 May 2022
Special Issue Editor(s)
Angela T. Hall,
Michigan State University
M. Ronald Buckley,
University of Oklahoma
Norwegian Business School
Employee Accountability: Accounting for Unaccounted and Under-Studied Employees
Special Issue Call for Papers
- Angela T. Hall, Michigan State University, [email protected]
- M. Ronald Buckley, University of Oklahoma, [email protected]
- Wajda Wikhamn, Norwegian Business School, [email protected]
- Katerina Gonzalez, Suffolk University, [email protected]
- Jennifer Franczak, Pepperdine University, [email protected]
- Dwight Frink, University of Mississippi, [email protected]
Accountability has been described as a major driver of human behavior (Hall, Frink, & Buckley, 2017a) and Tetlock (1985, 1992) called accountability the “basic social contingency.” In the organizational sciences, interest in accountability has increased steadily since the 1990s. Much of this research centers around the work of Tetlock, (1985, 1992), Frink and Klimoski (1998), and Hall and colleagues (2017a) and centers around felt accountability, which adopts a phenomenological approach in which an individual’s subjective perceptions of their accountabilities, as perception, not an objective reality, are key to shaping their behavior (Lewin, 1936). Specifically, when individuals feel accountable for their own behaviors – that is, they believe that they might be called on to justify or explain their actions or decisions – the way they think, feel, respond, and behave are often affected (Tetlock, 1985, 1992). This Special Issue solicits papers related to how accountability plays a role in the changing nature of work specifically for under-studied employees.
Accounting for Unaccounted for and Under-Studied Employees
The past year has brought the issues of inequality, systemic racism, diversity, and inclusion to the forefront of public and scholarly discourse. The current pandemic and social issues such as those involving policing practices and immigration have brought to the mainstream public consciousness topics that had never received much attention: the income disparity of front-line and essential workers, systemic racism, and the additional burden traditionally marginalized groups face at work and in society. A key part of inclusive research requires that scholars conduct research that focuses on not only traditionally studied majority groups, but also those who historically have not been the subject of academic inquiry. These populations include minoritized or marginalized workers, employees with disabilities, immigrants, contingent and other precarious workers, and low-income workers. In this Special Issue, we aim to advance scholarship in which employee populations are examined that, while significant in their size and scope, have failed to receive significant attention from either accountability researchers or organizational scholars broadly (Hall, Hickox, Kuan, & Sung, 2017b).
The current body of accountability literature rests heavily on assumptions and data based on middle class, Western, Caucasian, white-collar workers and college students (Norenzayan & Heine, 2005; Hall et al., 2017a). While basic elements of accountability should exist across all employees, there are aspects of accountability that traditionally marginalized employees face that have not received the appropriate attention from researchers (Okazaki & Sue, 2016). Yet, research suggests that minoritized, female, immigrant, low-income, or otherwise traditionally marginalized groups may have additional accountabilities that they must balance (O’Donnell, 2020).
Balancing Multiple Accountabilities and Identities
All employees operate within a web of accountabilities (Frink & Klimoski, 1998). Workers must balance multiple and often competing accountabilities (Hall, Bowen, Ferris, Royle, & Fitzgibbons, 2007). The accountability pressures can come from multiple deadlines, competing priorities, balancing customer and employer interests, and personal values and goals (Frink, Hall, Perryman, Ranft, Hochwarter, Ferris, & Royle, 2008). However, we do not know how workers who have minoritized identities prioritize their accountabilities, what additional stressors these accountabilities might cause, what is the source (internal or external) of these additional accountabilities, and what employers can do to assist these workers in balancing these additional accountabilities. As such, some research questions that might be addressed in this Special Issue include (but are not limited to):
- Some writers and scholars have discussed a “Black Tax,” which refers to the additional worries, concerns, and issues that burden African Americans due to systemic racism (Stephen, 2007). The Black Tax encompasses having one’s competence questioned by peers, being the target of incivility, emotional exhaustion associated with witnessing others being the targets of discrimination, and fears of negative interactions with law enforcement (Lundman & Kaufman, 2003). Researchers have yet to examine how this so-called Black Tax affects how African American employees manage their accountabilities. Research questions following this line could include: Do perceptions of a Black Tax impact how African Americans manage their felt and/or actual accountabilities?
- It is important to note that, while the above example discusses African American employees, the notion of a “tax” easily applies to other traditionally marginalized groups including, but not limited to, the LGBTQ community and immigrants (Nadler, Bartels, Sliter, Stockdale, & Lowery, 2013). In addition, intersectional identities may play a role in felt accountability: How do multiple identities (Ramarajan, 2014) affect the prioritization of accountabilities? How do other forms of identity such as religious identity (Cash & Gray, 2000), disability (Stone & Colella, 1996), or political identity (Swigart, Anantharaman, Williamson & Grandey, 2020) affect felt accountability?
Shifting Employee Accountabilities due to New Forms of Work and Changing Demographics
As we traverse the current Fourth Industrial Age, differences in how we work and the changing demographics of workers warrant expanded investigations into accountability. For example, although there has been a worldwide rise in contingent, gig, and other precarious workers, we know virtually nothing regarding how they manage their accountabilities. Research questions that could be asked are as follows (but are not limited to):
- Often, lower income workers have accountabilities that are seldom considered in traditional organizational research. Balancing work and home is often more complicated for low paid workers who do not have access to reliable childcare or transportation. Front-line workers (particularly essential workers) frequently have multiple accountabilities: (1) an accountability to management; (2) an accountability to produce a product or service, and (3) an accountability to respond to customer needs and demands. As such, research along this line may include: How do lower income workers manage their accountabilities? Does process accountability (being accountable for how you do things) or outcome accountability (being accountable for results) promote higher employee performance for front-line workers? How do essential workers balance health and safety concerns along with the rest of their other accountabilities?
- The notion of an additional tax can also be applied to the money that middle class, professionals from immigrant families and communities of color give to extended families to support them. Financial transfers have been reported among middle class Black South Africans (Mangoma & Wilson-Prangley, 2019) and immigrants in the U.S. and other countries who send money back to relatives in their home countries (Grzywacz, Quandt, Arcury, & Marin, 2005). Such money transfers may impact career decision-making and negatively affect the building of intergenerational wealth (Herring & Henderson, 2016): How do felt accountabilities influence the well-being and financial health for first generation professionals?
- The most common measure of individual-level employee accountability in the literature (Hochwarter, Kacmar, and Ferris, 2003) is more in line with white collar, professional work. While this unidimensional measure has been used in much of the survey research in employee accountability and has helped provide a solid foundation for accountability research, it does not necessarily reflect the accountability experiences of all workers (Hall et al. 2017a). Accordingly, a response to this Special Issue Call for Papers may include the development and validation of an accountability measure that can be used in research on low-wage workers.
- The last decade has seen an explosion of workers who do not have traditional employee-employer relationships. Contingent and precarious workers such as temporary workers, gig workers, platform workers (that is, gig workers who connect with work via technology platforms like Uber), and independent contractors now comprise a significant part of the workforce. Yet, how accountabilities evolve in the context of a non-traditional employee-employer relationship have yet to be examined. Thus, a possible research question could include: In platform work where customer ratings are the norm, do workers prioritize customer preferences over platform policies?
- Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and haptics are changing how employees work, how they are monitored, and how they are evaluated (Tambe, Cappelli, & Yakubovich, 2019). As such, possible research questions could include: How does algorithmic management amplify or attenuate cognitive biases (such as reliance on category rather than attribute information) (Kruglanski & Freund, 1983) that previous research has found to be associated with being held accountable (Lerner & Tetlock, 1999)?
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