Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

Psychological Capital, Work Engagement and Organisational Commitment Amongst Call Centre Employees in South Africa

Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

Psychological Capital, Work Engagement and Organisational Commitment Amongst Call Centre Employees in South Africa

Article excerpt


The call centre environment is one of the fastest-growing segments in the service sector, both in South Africa and internationally (Swart, 2006). Employees in the South African call centre sector have increased from 50 000 in 2005 to 180 000 in 2010 and it is predicted that approximately 100 000 new jobs will be created in the country by 2015 (Thomas, 2010). Holman (2003) has conducted much research on the demanding and stressful nature of call centre work. Call centre work is characterised by a sensory overload, rapid technological, product and service changes, work pressure and high workloads (Swart, 2006). The consequences of this may include stress, burnout, anxiety, absenteeism and performance problems (Lombard, 2009). In response to the above, call centre employees need to develop positive psychological resources as they have an impact on positive work-related attitudes and behaviours (Avey, Wernsing & Luthans, 2008). A review of the literature indicates that little has been done with regard to exploring the role of state-like characteristics and other personal resources in managing organisational demands or facilitating employee performance in call centres (Lombard, 2009; Zapf, Isic, Bechtoldt & Blau, 2003). In this regard, positive psychological resource capacities, such as psychological capital, have been shown to have an impact on desired work-related outcomes such as improved attitudes to work engagement and behaviours of organisational commitment in various work contexts (Youssef & Luthans, 2007). In our review of the literature, the authors have not found any study investigating psychological capital and its relationship with work engagement and organisational commitment in a call centre. Therefore, the current study investigates the relationship between Psychological capital (PsyCap), work engagement and organisational commitment and determines whether PsyCap and work engagement predict organisational commitment.

Psychological capital is a core concept in positive organisational behaviour (POB) literature. Positive organisational behaviour is defined as: 'the study and application of positively-oriented human resource strengths and psychological resource capacities that can be measured, developed, and effectively managed for performance improvement in today's workplace'. (Luthans, 2002a, p. 59). Positive organisational behaviour and PsyCap are rooted in the Positive Psychology movement (Donaldson & Ko, 2010). The Positive Psychology movement places emphasis on the concepts of strengths, virtues, excellence, thriving, happiness, flourishing, resilience, flow and optimal functioning (Donaldson & Ko, 2010).

One example of POB-based approaches to organisational research is the Broaden-and-Build Theory of positive emotions. This study adopts Fredrickson's (2004) broadenand- build theory as the theoretical framework that provides the lens for understanding the antecedents that are linked to the work-related outcomes of work engagement and organisational commitment. The theory maintains that positive emotions such as joy, contentment and interest can broaden an individual's thought-action repertories by expanding the thoughts and actions that come to an individual's mind. Therefore, positive emotions broaden an individual's thinking, thus enabling a more broadened outlook, which in turn can help with the development of personal resources. The resources can be social, psychological, physical and cognitive. The capacity of an individual to both broaden and experience positive emotions is important to one's ability to grow and flourish (Fredrickson, 2004).

Psychological capital

Psychological capital is a core construct of POB (Luthans & Youssef, 2004). It is proposed as an important composite construct that can assist in addressing human capital issues in organisations. PsyCap consists of four psychological resource capacities, namely, hope, optimism, resilience and self-efficacy (Luthans, Luthans & Luthans, 2004). …

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