Learned helplessness: An alternative explanation for performance deficits

Mark J. Martinko, William L. Gardner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

186 Scopus citations


This paper presents a theory of learned helplessness to account for passive maladaptive behavior in organizations. The essential hypothesis is that the properties of formal organizations often inadvertently condition employee failure and that this behavior frequently continues even after environmental changes make success possible. A model describing the intrapersonal process of becoming helpless is developed. Particular attention is devoted to the description of strategies for minimizing organizationally induced helplessness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-204
Number of pages10
JournalAcademy of Management Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1982


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