Article | Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior | 2014

Psychological Safety: The History, Renaissance, and Future of an Interpersonal Construct

by Amy C. Edmondson and Zhike Lei

Abstract

Psychological safety describes people's perceptions of the consequences of taking interpersonal risks in a particular context such as a workplace. First explored by pioneering organizational scholars in the 1960s, psychological safety experienced a renaissance starting in the 1990s and continuing to the present. Organizational research has identified psychological safety as a critical factor in understanding phenomena such as voice, teamwork, team learning, and organizational learning. A growing body of conceptual and empirical work has focused on understanding the nature of psychological safety, identifying factors that contribute to it, and examining its implications for individuals, teams, and organizations. In this article, we review and integrate this literature and suggest directions for future research. We first briefly review the early history of psychological safety research and then examine contemporary research at the individual, group, and organizational levels of analysis. We assess what has been learned and discuss suggestions for future theoretical development and methodological approaches for organizational behavior research on this important interpersonal construct.

Keywords: Risk and Uncertainty; Safety; Groups and Teams;

Citation:

Edmondson, Amy C., and Zhike Lei. "Psychological Safety: The History, Renaissance, and Future of an Interpersonal Construct." Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior 1 (2014).