Psychological Boundary Management, the Most Essential Source for Org-Improvement

Psychological Boundary Management, the Most Essential Source for Org-Improvement

Zheng Weibo, Hao Dingding, Zheng Lu
DOI: 10.4018/IJISSS.2020010105
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As globalization and IT application facilitate organizations to develop without boundary in the era of the Industrial Revolution, innovations and changes have become the new normal of organizations. In this background, psychological boundaries can help employees enhance their sense of identity and sense of belonging to the organization, which is an effective way to improve the organizational effectiveness and the most essential source for org-improvement. This paper teases out the domestic and foreign research results pertaining to the connotation, measurement, and influencing factors of psychological boundaries. The perspective of the psychological boundaries provides new ideas for the managers in the era of the Industrial Revolution to establish a long-term “Heart-Central” management mechanism which reveals the essence of management problems and leads management back to its origin.
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Psychological Boundary, The Behavioral Cognition From Multiple Perspectives

Research on psychological boundary begins with concerns about boundary issues. Coase (1937) first proposed the concept of “enterprise boundary” in the article the Nature of Enterprise. Later, along with the deepening of researchon the new institutional economics and the sociology of organization, Kahneman.D and A.Tversky (2000) introduced psychology into economic analysis, which made the basic assumption of “the happiness of natural persons” reoccur in behavioral economics and revealed the roles people’s cognitive style, values, emotions, and individual differences play in the economic activities, focusing more on individual choices. Guo & Rui (2004) proposed that an enterprise is not only a collection of economic contracts, but more of psychological contracts. From the perspective of sociology, Neil Paulson (2005) divided boundaries into three categories: social boundary, physical boundary, and psychological boundary. It was also pointed out that the social boundary is the dividing line between in-groups and out-groups, which is defined by organizations to distinguish itself from other organizations or groups. It reflects the sense of identity inside the group and the heterogeneity between groups; the organizational structure, as the physical boundary, determines the changes of the internal communication and power (Hatch, 1987); psychological boundary is a specific term and symbol, as well as a tool interpreting the world which is used to help groups communicate, act, and deepen their understanding of particular things. According to Norwegian Network University, the relationship among social boundary, physical boundary and psychological boundary was suggested as: if the physical boundary is well defined, the social boundary will provide trust and stability for the organizational development, and the psychological boundary will lay the foundation for development and innovation; social and physical boundaries all function through psychological boundary.

In accordance with the classification theory and the different degree of abstraction, and taking different situations into consideration, psychological boundaries can be divided into three levels: social, organizational, and individual boundary. Based on the previous literature, this paper takes the individual-level boundary as its focus and applies social psychology in the practice of enterprise management. It also discusses the root cause influencing the realization of the organizational goals from the point of employees’ psychology and classifies the psychological boundaries into four levels:

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