Cultivating Organizations as Healing Spaces: A Typology for Responding to Suffering and Advancing Social Justice

Humanistic Management Journal 6 (3):373-404 (2021)
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Historic inequities exacerbated by COVID-19 and spotlighted by social justice movements like Black Lives Matter have reinforced the necessity and urgency for societies and organizations to bring healing into focus. However, few integrated models exist within management and organization scholarship to guide practice. In response, our focus aims to unpack how organizations can become healing spaces. This paper offers a holistic definition of healing as the foundation for a new conceptual model of organizations as healing spaces. Drawing upon literature from clinical psychology, social psychology, and political science, we identify four perspectives that address healing in organizational contexts: restorative justice, posttraumatic growth, relational cultural theory, and dignity. These healing modalities represent prominent views of how healing can be achieved at the individual, dyadic, organizational, and societal levels. Synthesizing and building on these perspectives, we develop a typology that illustrates three ways organizations can function as healing spaces — Emergent, Endeavoring, and Exemplifying — representing a range of opportunities for how organizations can better respond to suffering. These spaces of healing are differentiated across seven dimensions, including source of harm, recipients of healing, facilitators of healing, focus of healing, length and strength of organizational attention, process of healing, and activators or enablers of healing. This research contributes to organizational healing research and to nascent social justice discussions in the management literature by exploring a range of opportunities for how organizations can better respond to suffering and substantively contribute to remedying harm from systematic bias against marginalized groups via healing.



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