The limits of psychological safety: Nonlinear relationships with performance

Liat Eldor*, Michal Hodor, Peter Cappelli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

While psychological safety climate is widely seen as having a positive relationship with work performance, there are compelling reasons as to why that may not always apply. We draw on cognitive psychology literature to suggest that high levels of psychological safety climate can actually harm the performance of routine tasks. The negative effect of high levels of psychological safety climate on these tasks can be moderated, however, by collective accountability. We find evidence for these propositions across five independent studies at different levels of analysis and organizational settings. We find that while moderate levels of psychological safety climate are associated with better in-role performance, high levels are associated with decreasing in-role performance. Collective accountability can buffer that decreasing performance. These results help identify the boundary conditions of psychological safety climate and extend research on it to organization-level and business outcomes with real-world consequences.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104255
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Volume177
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2023

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