Social support at work: An integrative review

Phillip M. Jolly, Dejun Tony Kong, Kyoung Yong Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


Social support can have a range of positive outcomes for both employees and organizations. Social support can lead to higher quality relationships, positive affective reactions, and increased individual performance and can buffer the negative effects of stressful demands. The power of social support has led to exponential growth in its investigation as a construct of interest in the workplace. However, this growth has come with several issues, which are the focus of this review. First, the literature is fragmented, with multiple conceptual frameworks employed to predict how social support may function in the workplace. Second, many studies are vague when defining social support, leading to diminished conceptual clarity. Third, there is no generally accepted measure of social support, and we describe problems with the structure and/or use of several commonly used measures. Finally, findings regarding the moderating effect of social support are decidedly mixed, calling into question why this might be so. On the basis of an extensive review of social support at work research, we highlight these issues, discuss how they can impede the advancement of understanding regarding social support in organizational settings, and propose an integrative framework to guide the field forward. Finally, we identify multiple areas for future investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-251
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Social support at work: An integrative review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this