Self-control at work

Huiwen Lian, Kai Chi Yam, D. Lance Ferris, Douglas Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Self-control is an important component of organizational life, with organizational members constantly needing to exert self-control to overcome their desires and achieve long-term goals. Attesting to this importance, much research has focused on why individuals lose self-control and the consequences of self-control failure for individuals and organizations. Unfortunately, this research has overly focused on one component of self-control—resource depletion perspectives (and ego depletion perspectives in particular)—while neglecting other components that play equally important roles in the self-control process. As such, we argue that the organizational literature has failed to appreciate the broader picture of what components are involved in the self-control process, and the extent to which these components are intertwined with organizational phenomenon. In this review, we address these issues by using an integrative self-control theory framework to review the management self-control literature, outlining seven components of self-control within three broad phases of the self-control process (activation, exertion, and enactment). This framework integrates the relevant literature into a larger self-control process model, and highlights concerns with existing depletion perspectives as well as the lack of attention paid to other components in the self-control process. We discuss the implications of these issues for future research on self-control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-732
Number of pages30
JournalAcademy of Management Annals
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Academy of Management Annals.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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