Sally Maitlis
Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Leadership
Saïd Business School
University of Oxford
+44 (0)1865 288915

Related Research Interests

Positive relationships at work are central to my research streams on compassion, caring narrative practices, and emotional dynamics in top teams. Along with fellow members of the Compassion Lab ( ), I have been exploring how compassionate work relationships – those in which members notice, feel and respond to each other’s suffering – transform people’s experience of work, affecting how they understand themselves, their co-workers, and their organizations (e.g., Lilius et al., 2008). As part of this work, we discovered of two relational conditions (high quality connections and work-life boundary permeability) that a particularly important in building “compassion capability” in an organizational setting (Lilius et al., 2011).

In another stream of work on caring team relationships, carried out with co-author Tom Lawrence, we examine how the use of certain caring narrative practices among team members enables more agentic, hopeful, and resilient teams.

Finally, relationships play a fundamental role in research that I am doing with UBC doctoral student, Feng Liu, on emotional dynamics in top team meetings. Through close analysis of emotions displayed in a series of strategy meetings, we find that emotional dynamics shape team strategizing processes through their impact on team relationships, drawing members closer together or pushing them apart during important conversations. Notably, positive emotional dynamics draw team members together and enable a collaborative approach to the strategic issues under discussion (Liu & Maitlis, Forthcoming).

Relevant Publications

  • Lilius, J., Worline, M., Dutton, J., Kanov, J., & Maitlis, S. 2011. Understanding compassion capability. Human Relations, 64, 873-900.
  • Lilius, J., Worline, M., Maitlis, S., Kanov, J., Dutton, J., & Frost, P. 2008. The contours and consequences of compassion. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 29, 193-218.
  • Liu, F. & Maitlis, S. (Forthcoming) Emotional dynamics and strategizing processes: A study of strategic conversations in top team meetings. Journal of Management Studies.