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Case Study 3  (Positive organizational behavior: Engaged employees in flourishing organizations

1. Introduction

Organizational behavior is an interdisciplinary field, which include psychology, sociology, industrial engineering, management, ethics, and economics, and is devoted to the study of “human attitude, behavior, and performances in organizations.” Positive organizational behavior (POB) emphasizes the need for more focused theory building, research, and effective application of positive traits, states, and behaviors of employees in organizations. This case more focused in modern organizations rather than traditional organizational structures that heavily rely on management control and economic principles of cost reduction, efficiency, and cash flow.

2. Contents

i. Positive Organizational Behavior and Scholarship

The purpose of Positive Psychology is to begin to catalyze a change in the focus of psychology from the pre-occupation only with repairing the worst things in life also building positive qualities. Positive psychology studies the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. It does not proclaim to represent some new discovery of the importance of positivity, but emphasizes the need for more focused theory building, research and effective application of positive traits, states, and behaviors of the employees in organizations.

According to Luthan (2000), POB is interested in “the study and application of positively oriented human resource strengths and psychological capacities that can be measured, developed, and effectively managed for performance improvement in today’s workplace”(p. 59). He argued that inclusion criteria for POB are being theory and research based, measureable, developmental, and manageable for performance impact in the workplace. Then, Wright (2003) counterbalanced this utilitarian and management-driven view by arguing that the mission of POB must also include the pursuit of employee happiness and health as viable goals in themselves.

Typically, POB studies individual positive psychological conditions and human resource strengths that are (in one way or another) related to employee well-being or performance improvement. This may involve the predictive validity of general mental ability and emotional intelligence and the affective capacities of work engagement and humor. POB studies also examine the role of states with organizational demands or in fostering performance.

Positive organizational scholarship movements have provided a conceptual framework for organizing and integrating their research. Positive refers to the elevating process and outcomes in organizations. Organizational refers to the interpersonal and structural dynamics activated in and through organization. Then, scholarship refers to the scientific, theoretically derived, and rigorous investigation. POB is primarily concerned with individual psychological states and human strengths that influence employee performance.

ii.  The Added Value of Positive Organizational Behavior

Recent POB studies had make a unique contribution to explain variance in organizational outcomes over and  above negative ones. Fredrickson and  Losada’s (2005) made this study which  they validated  that positive communication and expressions of support among teams member are clearly distinguished the team. Positive speech act was coded for encouragement, support, and appreciation. Then, the result shows  that it brings success to the team to exhibit a wider range of ideas and initiatives.

According to Bakker & Demerouti, 2007; Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004, working conditions can be classified in two general categories such as job demands and job resource that are applicable to virtually all occupations. Job demands required efforts whereas job resource require growth, learning, and development, and have motivational qualities. Next, social support and coaching from the supervisor may have buffered  the impact of  job demands on levels of burmout because employees received instrumental help and emotional support. Then, feedback also beneficial because it provided employees with the information necessary to maintain their performance.

   iii.  The Emergence of Employees Engagement

Generally, there were conflicts between corporate in employee engagement and academic research and writing. There are approaches to employee engagement which are conceived as a set of motivating opportunities resources, commitment and extra –role behavior, and affective-motivational state of work-related well-being that is the antipode of job burnout.

First, it conceived as a set of motivating resources such as support and recognition. A studies using “Gallup- 12” questionnaires measure in almost business units of companies, showed that levels of employee engagement were positively related to business-unit performance which conclude it was important to many organizations.

Second, employee engagement is conceived in terms of commitment and extra-role behavior. A study states where employees feel a vested interest in the company’s success and perform a high standard that may exceed the state requirements of the job. This clearly states that putting old commitment into new engagement can  be turn into success.

Lastly, the third engagement defines engagement independently from the job resource and positive organizational outcomes such as affective-motivational state of work-related well-being. Briefly, a motivational process in which engagement mediates the relationship between job resources on the one hand, and positive organizational outcomes such as organizational commitment.

iv. Overview of Articles in This Special Issue

This special issue is devoted to a selected number of exciting POB studies that each tap into an interesting direction in which POB research might go. For examples, Giardini and Frese (2008) done a study on how financial consultants’ emotional competence affects their management of affective responses in service encounters. They develop and test a two-level model in which emotional competence is related to consultants’ own and to their customers’ state positive effect. This study demonstrates that the positive psychological state of the employee influences that of the customer. This means that, potentially, such positive states pay off for the company.

Next, Muse, Harris, Giles, and Feild (2008) use two organizations to investigate whether employees’ use and perceived value of a work-life benefit package is associated with their positive attitudes and organizational behaviors. They develop and test a model identifying differential relationships of benefit use and perceived benefit value with employee attitudinal and performance outcomes. Results support the hypothesis that providing work-life benefits employees use and/or value is part of a positive exchange between the employee and employer which positively related to employees’ feelings of perceived organizational support and affective commitment to the organization and reciprocation in the form of higher levels of task and contextual performance behaviors.

Then, Lilius, Worline, Maitlits, Kanov, Dutton, and Frost (2008) explore the contours and consequences of compassion at work by findings from a pilot survey indicate that compassion occurs with relative high frequency ,also suggesting a relationship between experienced compassion, positive emotion, and affective commitment. A study reveals a wide range of compassion triggers and illuminates the ways in which work colleagues respond to suffering. This study demonstrates the usefulness of a newly introduced positive concept for sensemaking of employees in organizations.

Luthans, Norman, Avolio, and Avey (2008) investigate whether the recently emerging core construct of positive psychological capital plays a role in mediating the effects of a supportive organizational climate with employee outcomes. The results show that employees’ psychological capital is positively related to their performance, satisfaction, and commitment and that a supportive climate is related to employees’ satisfaction and commitment. This study demonstrates that integrating various existing constructs into a new higher-order construct might advance our knowledge on POB. Recently, Harrison, Newman, and Roth (2006) demonstrated that overall job attitude provides increasingly powerful prediction of more integrative behavioral criteria.

 Finally, in their theoretical article, Walter and Bruch (2008) develop a dynamic model of the emergence of positive affective similarity in work groups. It is suggested that positive group affective similarity and within-group relationship, which is driven by mechanisms of affective sharing and affective similarity-attraction between group members. This ‘‘positive group effect spiral’’ is proposed to  strengthen both the similarity of group members’ positive effect and the quality of their interpersonal relationships in a dynamic process.

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