Spirituality, Psychological Capital and Employee Performance: An Empirical Examination

By Fox, Corey; Webster, Brian D. et al. | Journal of Managerial Issues, Summer 2018 | Go to article overview

Spirituality, Psychological Capital and Employee Performance: An Empirical Examination


Fox, Corey, Webster, Brian D., Casper, Wm. Camron, Journal of Managerial Issues


Spirituality has increased in global popularity amongst the general public and has started to permeate the boundary of traditional organizations (Karakas, 2010). Indeed, the interest in spirituality has contributed to the increasing level of academic research on the topic (e.g., Afsar and Rehman, 2015; Milliman et al, 2017; Roof, 2015; Tzouramani and Karakas, 2016). Due to its increasing popularity, management scholars have shown interest in how the spirituality of an organization's employees might affect organizational outcomes, and more specifically, aspects of organizational and employee performance (Garcia-Zamor, 2003; Giacalone and Jurkiewicz, 2003). Unfortunately, the mechanisms through which employee spirituality impacts employee performance are still relatively vague and not well articulated. Instead, research focusing on employee spirituality has examined its impact across a wide range of organizational phenomena such as change (Dehler and Welsh, 1994), leadership (Phipps, 2012; Reave, 2005), and engagement (Devi, 2016; Roof, 2015). Despite the growing interest in the consequences of spirituality, it is still unclear how one critical driver of organizational performance, individual employee performance, is impacted by the employee's spirituality.

According to a Pew Research Report, the number of Americans who report experiencing a deep sense of spirituality at least once per week had increased to 59% as of 2014 (Masci and Lipka, 2016). When individuals come to work, they inevitably bring their experiences, personalities, and beliefs with them into the workplace. These experiences outside of work have an effect on how an individual acts and performs while at work (Edwards and Rothbard, 2000). As a result, it is argued that organizations need to better understand how spirituality impacts action and performance in the workplace. Researchers have recognized this and have called for more theoretical and empirical exploration into the employee spirituality and performance link (Giacalone et al., 2005; Tepper, 2003). This study answers the call in the extant literature and highlights the important role employee spirituality plays in the workplace.

Psychological capital (PsyCap) has also received an increasing amount of attention in the management literature over the past decade (Newman et al., 2014; Youssef-Morgan, 2014). PsyCap is a higher order construct consisting of hope, optimism, self-efficacy, and resiliency (Luthans and Youssef, 2004). PsyCap has consistently been shown to have a positive impact on a variety of employee attitudes and performance outcomes in work settings (Avey et al., 2011; Luthans et al., 2007), as well as a negative relationship with counterproductive work behaviors (Mills et al, 2013). However, as much is known about the consequences of PsyCap, existing work has highlighted the relative scarcity of research dedicated to understanding what elements create a foundation for an individual's level of PsyCap (Avey, 2014; Newman et al., 2014).

Answering calls from scholars in the spirituality and PsyCap domains, the authors integrate both literatures and suggest that spirituality is an individual difference variable to consider with respect to how it may impact PsyCap. Aside from an intuitive connection between spirituality and PsyCap, personality and cognition research suggests a relationship may be present. By integrating these related literatures, two primary contributions are made to the management literature. First, the findings contribute to the spirituality literature by showing spirituality is important for organizations and has an indirect connection to employee performance. Second, the findings contribute to the PsyCap literature by showing spirituality is associated with employee PsyCap.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Spirituality

Spirituality plays an important part in a majority of people's lives around the world. As important as spirituality is to a vast amount of the earth's population, no consensus on what is meant by spirituality exists (Dent et al. …

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