Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

Perspectives of Female Leaders on Sense of Coherence and Mental Health in an Engineering Environment

Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

Perspectives of Female Leaders on Sense of Coherence and Mental Health in an Engineering Environment

Article excerpt

Introduction

Over the past decade, research on positive organisational behaviour has increased steadily (Luthans, 2002a) and the importance of positive psychological concepts in organisational settings has been highlighted (Seligman, 2011; Seligman & Csikszentimihalyi, 2000). The focus of organisational research on understanding positive affect, behaviours and cognitions has gained interest in national and international contexts (Donaldson & Ko, 2010; Rothmann & Rothmann, 2010; Van Zyl, Deacon & Rothmann, 2010; Van Zyl & Stander, 2013).

Positive organisational behaviour is understood as: 'the study and application of positively oriented human resource strength and psychological capacities that can be measured, developed, and effectively managed for performance improvement in today's workplace' (Luthans, 2002b, p. 59). Research has shown that emphasising positive organisational behaviour impacts strongly on individual and group-related behaviours in organisations (Lyubomirsky, 2013; Mendes & Stander, 2011; Seligman, 2011). Since 2002, there has been an increase in research dealing with diversity issues and positive organisational behaviour, distinguishing between positive findings in diversity research and positive approaches to studying diversity (Ramarajan & Thomas, 2010). However, most of the research over the past five decades highlights the fact that: 'researchers may not believe that positive and diversity can be studied together' (Ramarajan & Thomas, 2010, p. 22). This might be a result of major inequalities relating to race, gender and other major categories existing in organisational contexts (Chugh & Brief, 2008; Lyubomirsky, 2013). However, a number of organisational studies have researched behaviour pertaining to race (Thomas, 2001), cultural diversity (Thomas, 2004) and minorities (Thomas & Gabarro, 1999) from a positive organisational behaviour perspective.

Similarly, gender, as a relevant category of diversity in organisations, has been increasingly investigated, based on the increasing numbers of women in organisations and the changing relationships between gender, work and society (Lawthom, 1999). However, gender studies have often been related to negative organisational behaviour such as job insecurity (Rosenblatt, Talmud & Ruvio, 1999), stress and burnout (Oplatka, 2002). Similarly, some studies have specifically compared male and female organisational behaviour in terms of differences and inequalities (e.g. Eagly, Johannesen- Schmit & Van Engen, 2003) instead of in terms of positive organisational behaviour and equalities (Seligman, 2011).

Gender and health in organisations have often been studied in relation to differences in gender (Carless, 1998), comparisons of differences in (mental) health of gender classes (Sachs-Ericson & Ciarlo, 2010), gender and dysfunctional organisational behaviour, as well as understanding gender challenges, work-life balance and the glass ceiling effect (Baxter, 2012; Bez & Emhan, 2011). Additionally, gender and mental health are often researched in clinical contexts in relation to psychopathology (Afifi, 2007; Bez & Emhan, 2011; Maddux & Winstead, 2011). Only recently has the increase in the number of females taking up leadership positions in organisations been discussed (Amanatullah & Morris, 2010; Baxter, 2012) and has there been a focus on the need for organisations to cope with growing complexities and new challenges such as managing meaningfulness (Wrzesniewski, 2003), work-related well-being (Wrzesniewski & Tosti, 2005; Wrzesniewski, Dutton & Debebe, 2003) and their organisational environment (Mayer, 2008; Seligman, 2011).

This new and dynamic situation calls for positive organisational approaches and concepts (Luthans, 2002b) in terms of developing and improving mental health and well- being in organisations (Luthans, 2002a; Van Zyl & Rothmann, 2012; Van Zyl & Stander, 2013; Youssef & Luthans, 2007). …

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