Call for Abstracts – Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology

Flexibility I-deals for Whom? A Critical Exploration of the Complexities of Boundary Management and Unequal Access to Flexibility Negotiation

Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology Call for Abstracts (

Guest Editors:

Dominique Kost, BI Norwegian Business School, Norway

Xi Wen (Carys) Chan, Griffith University, Australia

Kelly Basile, Emmanuel College, United States

Cláudia Andrade, Polytechnic of Coimbra, Portugal

Kseniya Navazhylava, Pôle Universitaire Leonard de Vinci (EMLV), France

Objective and overview

The literature on flexibility idiosyncratic deals (i‐deals for short) has taken issue with the impact of some structural factors on the complex dynamic of flexibility in boundary management, such as national culture (Wasti et al., 2022), the organizational context (Las Heras et al., 2017), job resources (Rofcanin et al., 2021), and the pandemic context (Liu et al., 2022). Much less attention has been paid to the complex role of the type of work and the complex interplay of socioeconomic factors, even though they play a crucial role in influencing managerial readiness to assign i-deals (Hornung et al., 2009). In the age of working anywhere and anytime enabled by technology, it is easy to overlook that this option is often limited to office workers (Kossek & Kelliher, 2023).

For example, data from a recent survey within the EU member states demonstrates the socioeconomic divide between workers frequently working from home: 40% of workers who frequently work from home completed tertiary education compared to 10% of those with secondary education and only 3% for those with low or no education. Furthermore, the data shows that 25% of workers in the top quartile of the EU income distribution have access to working from home, while less than 10% of workers have access in the bottom half of the income distribution (Sostero et al., 2020). This data suggests that workers with high income and high education may be in a better position to both negotiate flexible work arrangements and have more access to resources and tools (e.g., technology) enabling flexible work than workers with low income and low education.

Although the differences between workers with high and low education are prominent, research is still lacking on how workers’ socioeconomic background influences both boundary management practices and the ability to negotiate flexibility i-deals across industries and occupations. I-deals broadly refer to special conditions that individual workers have bargained for, and that differ to some extent from the standards applied to their peers (Hornung et al., 2009; for a review, see Conway & Coyle-Shapiro, 2018). Flexibility i-deals, in particular, provide the ability to customize hours, location, or workload (Hornung et al., 2008; Wang et al., 2017), yet it remains limited to high-paid, high-skilled professional office workers with high labor market power (Kossek & Kelliher, 2023).

Boundary management is a set of cognitions and strategies by which individuals manage the critical boundaries between their multiple life domains. There are different types (e.g., spatial, temporal, relational, cognitive) and dimensions (e.g., segmentation versus integration preferences and behaviors, permeability, and control) of boundary management, as well as its directionality and time horizon (Rothbard & Ollier-Malaterre, 2016). Flexibility negotiation involves the active process of negotiating and adjusting boundaries between work and personal life, and typically occurs at both the interpersonal and organizational levels (Kossek & Kelliher, 2023).

In this proposed special issue, we aim to take a critical look at how the intersection of socioeconomic factors, such as age, education, income levels, racial background, social capital, knowledge of the power landscape, and occupation, influence workers’ ability to access and negotiate flexibility i‐deals. Furthermore, we aim to enrich the current discussion with evidence from other contexts and to identify the structural boundaries of the ability to negotiate i-deals and the specific limitations pertaining to negotiating i-deals by less privileged workers. This exploration is grounded in the recognition that a one-size-fits-all approach to flexibility may not effectively address the diverse work–life needs and challenges of a multi-tiered workforce. While previous topical explorations if the I-deals focused on, at times adverse, outcomes of flexibility deals (e.g., Simosi et al., 2023), our special issue highlights the context enveloping the making of flexibility deals.

We hope this may facilitate access to flexibility i-deals for workers with diverse skills and arrangements, not limited to office work. We call for paper submissions that examine the interplay of flexibility negotiation and boundary management across different socioeconomic groups, and their outcomes for various psychological states and work attitudes, for example, employee well-being, job satisfaction, and work engagement.

Potential contributions

We invite scholars from various disciplines (I/O, work, vocational, and personnel psychology; organisational behaviour; human resource management; industrial relations; and other social sciences disciplines) to submit empirical (e.g., field, experimental, meta-analytic reviews, and qualitative) and conceptual (e.g., theory development and integrative reviews) papers that will address one or more of the following questions and topics:

  1. What do we currently know and what do we still need to learn about flexibility i-deals, their key components and dimensions, and their effects on individual, team, and organizational outcomes?
  2. What are the unique challenges and opportunities faced by employees from different socioeconomic backgrounds (i.e., age, income, education, occupation, cultural and racial backgrounds) who negotiate flexibility i-deals?
  3. How and to what extent does the potential possibility to negotiate flexibility i-deals affect career trajectories and career choices across worker groups?
  4. What are some unique individual (e.g., social capital, knowledge of the power landscape), team/organisational-level, and macro-economic/cultural factors, resources (e.g., accessible technology), and conditions that influence access to flexibility i-deals? Which resources and conditions enable workers from different socioeconomic groups to negotiate flexibility i-deals?
  5. What is the interplay between accessibility to technology and negotiating flexibility i-deals?
  6. What nuance exists in the dynamic of flexibility negotiation by high-skilled workers? For instance, what is the interplay between personal boundary preferences and strategies, and negotiation of flexibility i-deals?
  7. In industries or job roles traditionally considered less flexible (e.g., manufacturing, healthcare), how can organizations navigate the potential tensions between providing flexibility i-deals and maintaining operational efficiency, and what boundary management practices can be adopted to mitigate potential conflicts at both the individual and organizational levels? How do workers in these industries negotiate flexibility? How does practicing flexibility shape the task bundles and boundaries of these occupations?

The topics above are by no means exhaustive. If you are unsure whether your topic is suitable for this special issue, please contact the lead guest editor (Dominique Kost, for more information.

Submission information

Abstracts (200 to 250 words) should be submitted to by August 31st 2024.

Full papers are due February 3rd 2025. Please submit full papers through the JOOP submission portal (Research Exchange):

This special issue is sponsored by the Work and Family Researchers Network (WFRN technology networking community. The WFRN represents a global community of scholars, educators, practitioners, and policymakers focused on creating healthy work and family interfaces.


Adisa, T. A., Antonacopoulou, E., Beauregard, T. A., Dickmann, M., & Adekoya, O. D. (2022). Exploring the impact of COVID‐19 on employees’ boundary management and work–life balance. British Journal of Management, 33(4), 1694-1709.

Chan, X. W., Shang, S., Brough, P., Wilkinson, A., & Lu, C. Q. (2023). Work, life and COVID‐ 19: a rapid review and practical recommendations for the post‐pandemic workplace. Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources61(2), 257-276.

Conway, N., & Coyle-Shapiro, J. (2018). Not so i-deal: A critical review of idiosyncratic deals theory and research. In C. Cooper (Ed.), Current Issues in Work and Organizational Psychology (pp. 165–188). Routledge.

Hornung S., Rousseau D. M., Glaser J. (2008). Creating flexibility through idiosyncratic deals. Journal of Applied Psychology93(3), 655–664.

Hornung, S., Rousseau, D. M., & Glaser, J. (2009). Why supervisors make idiosyncratic deals: Antecedents and outcomes of i‐deals from a managerial perspective. Journal of Managerial Psychology24(8), 738–764.

Kossek, E. E., & Kelliher, C. (2023). Making flexibility more i-deal: Advancing work-life equality collectively. Group & Organization Management48(1), 317-349.

Kossek, E. E., Gettings, P., & Misra, K. (2021). The future of flexibility at work. Harvard Business Review.

Las Heras, M., Rofcanin, Y., Matthijs Bal, P., & Stollberger, J. (2017). How do flexibility i‐deals  relate to work performance? Exploring the roles of family performance and organizational context. Journal of organizational behavior, 38(8), 1280-1294.

Liu, Z., Zhang, X., Xu, H., Deng, H., Li, J., & Lan, Y. (2022). The effect of i-deals on employees’ unethical behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic: The roles of hubristic pride and grandiose narcissism. Frontiers in psychology, 13, 938864.

McPhail, R., Chan, X. W., May, R., & Wilkinson, A. (2024). Post-COVID remote working and its impact on people, productivity, and the planet: An exploratory scoping review. The International Journal of Human Resource Management35(1), 154-182.

Prager, E.M., Chambers, K.E., Plotkin, J.L., McArthur, D.L., Bandrowski, A.E., Bansal, N.,

Martone, M.E., Bergstrom, H.C., Bespalov, A. & Graf, C. (2019). Improving transparency and scientific rigor in academic publishing. Journal of neuroscience research, 97(4), 377-390.

Rofcanin, Y., Las Heras, M., Jose Bosch, M., Stollberger, J., & Mayer, M. (2021). How do weekly obtained task i-deals improve work performance? The role of relational context and structural job resources. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology30(4), 555-565.

Rothbard, N. P., & Ollier-Malaterre, A. (2016). Boundary management. In T. D. Allen & L. T.  Eby (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of work and family (pp. 109–122). Oxford University Press.

Simosi, M., Aldossari, M., Chaudhry, S., & Rousseau, D. M. (2023). Uncovering Missing Voices: Invisible Aspects of Idiosyncratic Deals (I-Deals). Group & Organization Management, 48(1), 3-30.

Sostero M., Milasi S., Hurley J., Fernández-Macías E., Bisello M., (2020). Teleworkability and  the COVID-19 crisis: a new digital divide? Seville: European Commission, JRC121193.

Wang P., Wang S., Yao X., Hsu I-C., Lawler J. (2019). Idiosyncratic deals and work-to-family conflict and enrichment: The mediating roles of fit perceptions and efficacy beliefs. Human Resource Management Journal29(4), 600–619.

Wasti, S. A., Ersoy, N. C., & Erdogan, B. (2022). I-deals in context: a summary and critical review of I-deals literature around the globe. Idiosyncratic Deals at Work: Exploring Individual, Organizational, and Societal Perspectives, 257-307.