Academic journal article Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies

Potential Added Value of Psychological Capital in Predicting Work Attitudes

Academic journal article Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies

Potential Added Value of Psychological Capital in Predicting Work Attitudes

Article excerpt

Meeting the challenge of effectively managing human resources requires new thinking and approaches. To extend the traditional perspective of economic capital, increasing recognition is being given to human capital and more recently social capital, this article proposes and empirically tests the potential added value that psychological capital may have for employee attitudes of satisfaction and commitment. After first providing the background and theory of PsyCap, this article reports a study of manufacturing employees (N 74) that found a significant relationship between PsyCap and job satisfaction (r = .373) and organization commitment (r = .313). Importantly, the employees' PsyCap had a significant added impact over human and social capital on these work attitudes. Future research and practical implications conclude the article.

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Although work environments have always experienced change, most outsiders and insiders would agree that today's workplace is changing at a much faster and more dramatic pace than ever before. Work in today's organizations is becoming more fluid and less bound by space and time thanks to information technology and globalization (i.e., see Friedman, 2005). Also, changing demographics, growing two-income families, and an educated workforce that is insisting on more control over their careers is creating an unprecedented environment (Pearce & Randel, 2004).

In this new environment, the rules and boundaries of the playing field for organizations and employees alike are undergoing paradigmic change. For example, mega-mergers, acquisitions, reorganizations, and ethical scandals have altered the identity of "who we are." What used to be distinctive attributes such as organizational culture or core values are being questioned and the consequence is that we have gone from the 1980's "Me Decade" to what Feldman (2000) has called the "Flee Decade" of the new century. What he means by this is that there is now a perceived need to always be ready to move in order to stay employed--ultimately leading to a drastic change in the way people manage their careers and how they identify with their organizations. Organizational identification requires members to adopt strategies that allow them to preserve their psychological well-being and organizational success (Johnson, Smith, & Gambill, 2000).

Although these complex workplace changes are very difficult to unravel, many managers still subscribe to a mechanistic perspective of organizations as simply being predictable entities--one in which members can be easily programmed as if they were machines. However, academics and an increasing number of practitioners, recognizing the complexity of today's environment, now subscribe to the reality that work, and how it is carried out in organizations, is fundamentally about relationships--most notably the relationships between organizations and employees. This relationships perspective changes many assumptions. For example, flexibility and fluidity becomes a new regulator for organizations to instill in their managers and employees, which in turn results in a heightened sense of insecurity. Even employees who are able to hold on to their jobs, still view their employment as unstable and fear the future (Mack, Nelson, & Quick, 1998). Although the classical change model of unfreezing-moving-refreezing remains a way to deal with today's constantly changing environment, as one employee recently observed, the constancy of change has resulted in a state of "slush: never refrozen, always in an uncertain state" (Mack, et al., 1998: 220). In this "slush" environment, numerous solutions to cope and effectively manage and change are possible. However, we would argue the only constant, beside the old cliche of change itself, is the important role human resources play in competitive advantage. Although obvious and recognized to a degree through the ages, only very recently have human resources been proposed as a form of capital to be developed and leveraged for a return on human investment. …

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