ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (4): 747-760.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2021.00747

• ·Regular Articles· • Previous Articles    

Time related research and future direction in organizational behavior field

DONG Xiaowei1, QIN Xin1(), CHEN Chen1, HUANG Mingpeng2, DENG Huiru1, ZHOU Hansen1, SONG Bodi1   

  1. 1School of Business, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    2Business School, University of International Business and Economics, Beijing 100029, China
  • Received:2020-05-08 Online:2021-04-15 Published:2021-02-22


Time, is the basic element of personal life and work experience, everywhere. At present, most of the existing literature in the field of organizational behavior explores the relationship between variables from a static perspective, that is, mainly focuses on overall variable levels over a period of time. This is because these studies are based on a mainstream assumption, that is, the overall variable levels are relatively stable. While the role of time, such as the dynamic characteristics of variables over a period of time, has been largely neglected. This widely adopted static perspective that neglects the role of time keeps the existing theory of organizational behavior “static” to a certain extent.
Over time, whether and how the overall variable levels change, and how and when the variables that change over time have an effect, the exploration of these issues provides a new perspective on existing research, which in turn expands traditional management theories. As more and more recent studies in recent years have taken the role of time into consideration in the discussion of theoretical models, researchers have gradually discovered that paying attention to the dynamic characteristics of variables from a dynamic perspective can increase explanatory effectiveness than exploring the impact of overall variable levels. Based on this approach, the construction methods of traditional management theories, the relationship between variables, and even the propositions derived from traditional theories have also changed. Taking the role of time into consideration, that is, focusing on the dynamic characteristics of variables and exploring their antecedents and outcomes from a dynamic perspective, existing research can better “provide an ontologically accurate description of the nature of a phenomenon” (George & Jones, 2000, p. 658).
In line with this approach, in recent years, some scholars have begun to focus on the role of time and to explore the dynamic characteristics of variables. However, in general, this type of research is still quite rare and disorganized in different fields, and has not yet formed a structured system. Based on this, this review focused on the literature that has taken the role of time into consideration in recent years and explored the dynamic characteristics of variables over a period of time, in order to provide inspiration for future research. Specifically, this review selected two dimensions to sort out related research: the first of the dimensions being the type of dynamic characteristics of variables (i.e., trend vs. variability). The trend reflects the change trend of the variable over a period of time, including growth and decay. In research, the slope is often used as a measure. Variability reflects the degree of (in) stability a variable has over a period of time, which is often measured by standard deviation in research. The second of the dimensions being the role of dynamic characteristics of variables in the theoretical model (i.e., independent variable vs. dependent variable). That is, the researcher can use it as an independent variable to explore its outcomes, or use it as a dependent variable to explore its antecedents. Based on these two dimensions, this review divided the relevant research into four categories: (1) Trend is the independent variable; (2) Trend is the dependent variable; (3) Variability is the independent variable; (4) Variability is the dependent variable. Based on this categorization, this review systematically reviewed the related studies and the theories applied in them. Finally, based on the above analysis, suggestions for future research are provided by taking the role of time into consideration to expand the theory of organizational behavior more comprehensively and systematically, such as paying more attention to the variability of variables, investigating trends, interactions between fluctuations and overall average levels, focusing on time, duration and other important dynamic changes, from the perspective of characteristics, etc.

Key words: time, dynamic, organizational behavior, trend, variability

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