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IACM 2023

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Embracing The Human Side of Work: The Process of Shifting From Maladaptive To Adaptive Perfectionism

Perfectionism is increasingly prevalent in society and in organizations, with potentially significant consequences for both individual well-being and organizational performance. Perfectionism has been dually conceptualized as having a destructive, obsessive form of pursuing perfection at all costs (maladaptive perfectionism), and a less harmful form of striving for excellence (adaptive perfectionism). Despite a growing body of research and interest in the outcomes of maladaptive and adaptive perfectionism at work, organizational scholars still know little about the role of the organizational context in driving or shaping people’s experience of perfectionism, particularly the mechanisms that drive adaptive versus maladaptive perfectionism at work. In a qualitative, inductive study of professional ballet dancers, we explore the influence of the organizational environment on workers’ experience of, and response to, perfectionism. Our findings reveal organizational dehumanization as a key mechanism exacerbating maladaptive perfectionism. We also show how dancers’ experiences of rehumanization can lead them to break out of a vicious cycle of maladaptive perfectionism and embrace a more constructive form of adaptive perfectionism.

Rachael Goodwin
Syracuse University
United States

Joel Gardner
Boston College
United States

Lyndon Garrett
Boston College
United States

Ali Block


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