Collective rumination: When ‘problem talk’ impairs organizational resilience

Kristin Knipfer, Barbara Kump

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


When adversity strikes, organization members often turn to others in order to vent their negative emotions and receive social support. While social interaction is commonly seen as a major resource for organizational resilience, dysfunctional social interactions and their negative effects on coping with and overcoming adversity are less well understood. This conceptual article develops theory on collective rumination—defined as repetitive and prolonged discussions of adverse events that center on the negative and uncontrollable aspects of the situation—and its detrimental effects on organizational resilience. We elaborate that collective rumination emerges through a vicious circle of a shared negative situational assessment and mutual contagion with highly negative emotions. Based on our theorizing, we propose that collective rumination is negatively related to three core dimensions of organizational resilience: perceptions of control, commitment to joint action, and the acceptance of adversity as a challenge. With our conceptual article, we answer earlier calls to theorize about forms of social interactions that are not valuable but destructive for organizational resilience and elucidate previously neglected social dynamics that are dysfunctional for recovering from adversity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-173
JournalApplied psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Collective rumination
  • emotional contagion
  • group information processing
  • organizational behavior
  • organizational resilience
  • social sharing of emotions


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