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An experimental study of the impact of psychological capital on performance, engagement, and the contagion effect

Dissertation
Author: Timothy D. Hodges
Abstract:
  Psychological Capital, or PsyCap, is a core construct consisting of the positive psychological resources of efficacy, hope, optimism, and resilience. Previous research has consistently linked PsyCap to workplace outcomes including employee attitudes, behaviors, and performance. Further research has explored the ways in which PsyCap can be developed through relatively brief workplace interventions. The present study focuses on PsyCap development and the relationship to employee engagement and performance. In an experimental design with random assignment of subjects to control group (n = 52 managers and 152 associates) and treatment group (n = 58 managers and 239 employees), a field sample of managers in a financial services organization participated in a PsyCap micro-intervention. Although the financial services industry is in the midst of historical challenges, employees at the field site were remarkably positive throughout the study. High scores at the time of the pre-test indicate the possibility of a ceiling effect which may limit the significance of the differences in groups. Mean score differences between pre-test and post-test for the treatment group were generally in the hypothesized directions. Results indicate initial evidence supporting the presence of a contagion effect where employees reporting to the managers participating in the PsyCap intervention experienced an increase in their own PsyCap levels over a six-week period. Post-hoc analyses found significant correlations between PsyCap, employee engagement, and performance. The article concludes with a discussion of several practical implications and directions for future research.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Chapter One: Introduction to the Study ……………………………………….. 1 Positive Psychology …………………………………………………… 2 Well-Being/Happiness ………………………………………………… 3 Positive Organizational Behavior and Psychological Capital ………… 4 Positive Workplaces and the Manager‟s Role ……………………….... 5 Theoretical Model and Research Questions ………………………....... 7 Significance of the Study …………………………………………........ 7 Structure of the Dissertation ……………………………………........... 9

Chapter Two: Review of Literature ………………………………………..….. 10 Positive Psychology and Application to the Workplace ………………. 10 Positive Organizational Behavior ……………………………………... 13 Self-Efficacy …………………………………………………………... 14 Hope …………………………………………………………………… 18 Optimism ……………………………………………………………… 22 Resilience ……………………………………………………………… 25 Psychological Capital (PsyCap) ………………………………………. 29 Employee Engagement ……………………………………………….. 32 Positive Emotions and the Contagion Effect ………………………….. 35

Chapter Three: Study Design and Methodology ……………………………… 41 Study Design ………………………………………………………….. 41 Recruitment and Sample ………………………………………………. 41 Intervention ……………………………………………………………. 43 Survey …………………………………………………………………. 44 PsyCap Training Program …………………………………………….. 46 Manipulation Check …………………………………………………… 49

Chapter Four: Results …………………………………………………………. 50 Descriptive Statistics ………………………………………………….. 50 Scale Reliabilities and Psychometric Properties ………………………. 51 Manipulation Check …………………………………………………… 51 Exploratory Data Analysis …………………………………………….. 52 Hypothesis Testing ……………………………………………………..53 Post-Hoc Analyses …………………………………………………….. 55

Chapter Five: Discussion ……………………………………………………… 57 PsyCap Intervention Review and Discussion …………………………. 57 Discussion of Hypotheses and Results ……………………………….. 60 Strengths and Limitations …………………………………………….. 65 Implications for Practice ……………………………………………… 67 Directions for Future Research ……………………………………….. 68 Conclusion …………………………………………………………….. 69

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References …………………………………………………………………….. 70

Table 1: Demographics of the Sample ………………………………………… 96

Table 2: Scale Reliability Estimates ………………………………………....... 97

Table 3: Pre-Test and Post-Test Descriptive Statistics ………………………... 98

Table 4: ANOVA Controlling for Group (Control or Treatment) ……………. 99

Table 5: Variable Means and Bivariate Correlations …………………………. 100

Figure 1: Theoretical Model: Contagion Effect ……………………………….. 101

Figure 2: Research Design Model …………………………………………….. 102

Appendix A: Survey Instrumentation …………………………………………. 103

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CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY On March 18, 1968, New York Senator and newly-announced presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy addressed a large group of students, faculty, and community members on the campus of the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas. This speech was delivered during one of the more tumultuous times in America‟s history. Just five years removed from President John F. Kennedy‟s assassination, America was engaged in an emotional debate over the major issues of the day. The headline issue was foreign policy, with Cold War-era tensions running high on the heels of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. America was also dealing escalading civil rights issues closer to home, with the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., set to take place just three weeks later. Economic justice was a major component of Robert F. Kennedy‟s presidential campaign platform. Kennedy described in great detail the plight of starving children in Mississippi, suicidal Native Americans on reservations, unemployed miners in Appalachia, and school children toiling in the black ghettos. Calling for an end to the disgraces of this “other America,” Kennedy continued: And this is one of the great tasks of leadership for us, as individuals and citizens this year. But even if we act to erase material poverty, there is another greater task, it is to confront the poverty of satisfaction - purpose and dignity - that afflicts us all. Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product - if we judge the United States of America by that - that

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Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum, n.d.). Positive Psychology Thirty years after Kennedy‟s speech, American Psychological Association (APA) President Martin Seligman leveraged similar themes in his address to the APA membership. In addition to encouraging more work focused on relieving ethnic conflict, Seligman (1999) called for a new science focused on improving the lives of people, to be

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known as “positive psychology.” The field of psychology, in Seligman‟s view, had moved from its original roots in making the lives of people more fulfilling and productive, to a post-World War II focus almost exclusively on healing and the alleviation of mental illness without enough attention given to improving the lives of all people. He called for psychologists to study actions that lead to well-being, to positive individuals, to flourishing communities, and to a just society. Although America had enjoyed much prosperity, the rate of depression had increased more than tenfold in the previous 40 years. Seligman called for increasing amounts of research and scholarship with an increased focus on the discovery and development of positive attributes about individuals that would not only increase their level of well-being, but would help buttress the negativity and symptoms of depression. Well-Being/Happiness Our desire for happiness – for obtaining that which makes life worthwhile – has been articulated since Thomas Jefferson and the Framers penned the Declaration of Independence more than 230 years ago. More than merely an inspirational ambition, happiness has been linked to a number of desirable outcomes (Diener, Suh, Lucas, & Smith, 1999). Acknowledging the substantial and meaningful outcomes associated with increased levels of happiness, Lyubomirsky, Sheldon, and Schkade (2005) proposed their model of happiness known as the architecture of sustainable happiness. This integrative model notes that there are both state and trait factors that comprise the portrait of well- being. Further, they suggest that three primary factors – genetic set point or set range, life circumstances, and intentional activity – impact one‟s level of happiness. Previous

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research suggests that nearly half of the variance in reported levels of happiness is accounted for by genetics (Diener et al., 1999). Life circumstances likely account for about another 10% (Argyle, 1999; Diener et al., 1999). Thus, as much as 40% of the happiness population variation is left to be accounted for via levels of intentional activity (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). Furthermore, preliminary research by Sheldon and Lyubomirsky (2006) suggests that it is the intentional activity – the aspect which we can most readily manipulate through our behaviors, cognitions, and volitions – that is most resistant to hedonic adaptation (Fredrick & Lowenstein, 1999) and most likely to have a sustainable positive influence over time. Positive Organizational Behavior and Psychological Capital Also focused on improving the performance of individuals through positivity intervention, Luthans (2002a, 2002b) introduced Positive Organizational Behavior (POB). This research stream focuses on state-like concepts that can be validly “measured, developed, and effectively managed for performance improvement in today‟s workplace” (Luthans, 2002b, p. 59). Psychological resource capacities such as self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997; Stajkovic & Luthans, 1998b), hope (Snyder, 2000), optimism (Scheier & Carver, 1985), and resilience (Masten, 2001) meet these criteria for inclusion and have received the majority of attention from POB researchers. Over time and across a variety of contexts, researchers empirically tested the notion that positive psychological resource capacities meeting the POB criteria for inclusion may have more to contribute when viewed as a multidimensional, latent core construct. This Psychological Capital construct, or PsyCap, has been the subject of considerable theory and research over the past several years. PsyCap researchers have

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developed (Luthans, Youssef, & Avolio, 2007a) and validated (Luthans, Avolio, Avey, & Norman, 2007) measures of PsyCap. Taken to the workplace, preliminary empirical evidence supports the PsyCap latent core construct and its relationship to performance (Luthans, Avey, Avolio, & Peterson, in press; Luthans, Avolio, et al., 2007) in multiple cultural contexts (Luthans, Avolio, Walumbwa, & Li, 2005). Further research has addressed the notion that PsyCap is open to development. Initial developmental frameworks (Luthans, Avey, Avolio, Norman, & Combs, 2006; Luthans et al., in press) suggest that positive workplace outcomes may be able to be achieved through short, focused “micro-interventions.” This development may be able to be facilitated through multiple contexts, including via a web-based setting (Luthans, Avey, & Patera, 2008). PsyCap scholars have called for future research that further measures the performance improvement that results from PsyCap interventions. Positive Workplaces and the Manager’s Role Successful for-profit organizations are able to effectively manage their resources to maximize their return to shareholders. Over the years the quality movement and re- engineering have helped organizations fine-tune their operations and maximize their traditional sources of capital. Organizations turned their attention to human capital and social capital. More recently, organizations have elected to focus on the development of Positive Psychological Capital as another source of productivity and competitive advantage (Luthans & Youssef, 2004). Based on the notion that positive workplaces are more productive, recent research has focused on how to best increase workplace productivity. A major research project

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with data from more than 10 million employees and 10 million customers suggests that the manager may be the key point of influence: “Among the many variables that discriminate between highly productive workplaces and those that are unproductive is the quality of the local workplace manager and his or her ability to meet a core set of employees‟ emotional requirements. Work units that meet these conditions of engagement perform at a much higher level than work units that fail to meet them” (Fleming & Asplund, 2007, p. 161). Employee engagement involves employees‟ cognitive and emotional connection to their work and to their workplace. Highly related to a variety of work and organizational outcomes across a variety of contexts (Harter, Schmidt, Killham, & Agrawal, 2009), employee engagement is heavily influenced by daily interactions with managers and coworkers at the workgroup level (Harter, 2009). Manager positive emotions have been shown to predict group performance (George, 1995). Other research (Fredrickson, 2000) suggests that managers should cultivate positive emotions in themselves and among those they manage. Is it possible that employees “catch” the positive emotions of their managers? Research on emotional contagion (Hatfield, Cacioppo, & Rapson, 1993) suggests that this might be the case, noting that people automatically and continuously mimic the emotions of others. Further, even mild emotional expressions can influence cognition and behavior (Doherty, 1998). It stands to reason that a manager‟s expression of positive emotions, as well as the outcomes associated with positive emotions, may “trickle down” to employees as well. The present study sets out to further explore this hypothesis.

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Theoretical Model and Research Questions Theoretical Model The theoretical model for this study is shown in Figure 1. It is hypothesized that manager PsyCap training will lead to increases in manager PsyCap and performance, relative to a control group of managers who do not participate in the training. Drawing on previous contagion effect research, manager PsyCap training is also expected to relate positively to the performance, engagement, and PsyCap of followers. ----- INSERT FIGURE 1 HERE ----- Research Questions The primary research questions to be explored in this study are as follows: Does manager PsyCap increase in response to a robust manager PsyCap training program, over and above that of a control group of managers? Will the manager‟s performance increase following their participation in the PsyCap training program, over and above that of a control group of managers? Is there a contagion or trickle-down effect for PsyCap training? Said another way, does PsyCap training for managers lead to increased PsyCap for the employees that they manage? Does this trickle-down effect also relate to the engagement and performance of the employees? Significance of the Study This current study sets out to add to existing theory and research on organizational behavior in several ways. The study draws on existing research related to the component parts of PsyCap, including self-efficacy, hope, optimism, and resilience. Following a thorough exploration of the developmental nature of each component part, as

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well as the PsyCap construct overall, this study sets out to build on the PsyCap micro- intervention model put forth by Luthans and colleagues (Luthans, Avey, et al., 2006). The developmental model integrates the architecture of sustainable happiness model (Lyubomirsky, Sheldon, et al., 2005) with a particular focus on the intervention zone of intentional activity that can impact one‟s level of happiness through behaviors, cognitions, and volitions. The developmental model was then tested in a field setting using an experimental design with random assignment of subjects to treatment, as well as a control group. The study sets out to answer the call for future research on whether PsyCap can be developed as well as to determine its impact on performance (Luthans et al., in press). While the majority of research on management development centers on the manager as the target and even as the end product of training programs, this study emphasizes the role of the manager in driving the performance of the teams that they lead. Drawing on related research exploring the contagion effect of mood and emotion (George, 1995), the current study explores the extent to which managers are able to pass on learning related to PsyCap to their teams through changes in managerial behavior during the time of the field study. It is hypothesized that the positivity training not only increases the manager‟s own reported levels of positivity and productivity, but that their employees will notice a difference in their managers to the extent that the positivity, employee engagement, and productivity of the employees will also be enhanced. As such, the targeted outcomes of the present program include the PsyCap, employee engagement, and performance gains of the employees that are managed by the participants in the training program.

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Employee engagement has enjoyed substantial theory development and research over the past several years (Harter, 2009), with more than 10 million employees having participated in one well-known assessment of employee engagement over the past several years (Harter et al., 2009). The present study extends emerging work (Avey, Wernsing, & Luthans, 2008) that addresses the relationship between employee engagement and PsyCap. Structure of the Dissertation The second chapter of this dissertation addresses literature related to the research questions outlined above. Theoretical and background research on each variable in the study is reviewed. Additionally, chapter two reviews previously conducted empirical studies, with a special emphasis on interventions that inform the design of the training program designed for this study. Chapter three addresses the study design and methodology. A description of the field site and study participants is provided. Chapter three concludes with an overview of the intervention, including the pre- and post-test surveys and the classroom-based training program. Chapter four reviews the data analysis and results of the study, as well as the results of each of research questions and associated hypotheses. Chapter five provides a discussion of the strengths and limitations of the study. The dissertation concludes with practical implications of the findings as well as areas for further research.

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CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF LITERATURE In order to better understand the concepts addressed in this study, the following literature review provides an overview and synthesis of the relevant areas of research. Special attention is focused on the contribution that each of the areas offers to the development program designed for use in this study. Definitions are provided, as well as a discussion of how each concept ties to other areas of related research and to the current study. Hypotheses for the current study are included throughout the chapter. The review of literature begins with a summary of research in the field of positive psychology and application to the workplace through the work of scholars in Positive Organizational Scholarship and Positive Organizational Behavior. The section on Positive Organizational Behavior (POB) includes a description of each of the POB states (self-efficacy, hope, optimism, and resilience) as well as how each of these states meets the POB criteria for inclusion. Next is an in-depth discussion of the theory, research, and application of PsyCap, which has roots in Positive Organizational Behavior. The literature review continues by addressing workplace engagement and positive emotions. The chapter concludes with a review of research on the contagion effect and its relevance to the current study. Positive Psychology and Application to the Workplace The mission of psychology in the early 20 th century attended to both helping the mentally ill and tapping into the potential of talented and gifted individuals. Following World War II, increased attention and funding encouraged clinical psychologists to focus more on treating the mentally ill. While few would argue with the value in addressing issues of mental illness, the nearly exclusive focus on the negative was troubling to some

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of the leading psychologists of the day. Abraham Maslow, a leader in the humanistic psychology movement, articulated this feeling when he stated, “It is as if [applied] psychology had voluntarily restricted itself to only half its rightful jurisdiction, and that the darker, meaner half” (Maslow, 1954, p. 354). In fact, the final chapter of Maslow‟s influential book, Motivation and Personality, was entitled “Toward a Positive Psychology.” Although there was a meaningful initial response to Maslow‟s call, in time other agendas took over the field of humanistic psychology and attempts to turn psychology to a more positive agenda remained unrealized (Keyes & Haidt, 2003). Several decades later, American Psychological Association President Martin Seligman (1999) attempted to renew attention of psychologists on the study of what is right about people. Alongside several other established leaders across the field of psychology including Ed Diener (2000), Chris Peterson (2000), Rick Snyder (2000), Don Clifton (2000), George Valliant (2000), and Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000), Seligman offered a new agenda for psychology in the new millennium. Positive psychologists began to unite around a purpose of changing psychology‟s focus from only repairing the worst things in life to also building positive qualities (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). The new movement in psychology addressed the once-forgotten „average person‟ and began to study what might be possible (Sheldon & King, 2001). A review of psychological research from the first decade of the new millennium provides evidence that scholars agreed with Seligman‟s observations. Several special journal issues (American Psychologist, January 2000, March 2001; Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Winter 2001), a handbook (Snyder & Lopez, 2002), and several conferences

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provided avenues for the development and dissemination of these new streams of research. Following the premise that “what is good about life is as genuine as what is bad and therefore deserves equal attention” (Peterson, 2006, p. 4), positivity research has also enjoyed an increased focus in the fields of management and leadership. Positive Organizational Scholarship, led primarily by a group of researchers at the University of Michigan‟s Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship, focuses on dynamics in organizations that lead to “positive deviance” or the ways in which organizations and their members flourish and prosper in extraordinary ways (Cameron & Caza, 2004; Cameron, Dutton, & Quinn, 2003). This research stream encompasses concepts including virtues, positive organizing, and meaning-making in the workplace. Positive Organizational Scholarship is defined as “they study of that which is positive, flourishing, and life-giving in organizations. Positive refers to the elevating processes and outcomes in organizations. Organizational refers to the interpersonal and structural dynamics activated in and through organizations, specifically taking into account the context in which positive phenomena occur. Scholarship refers to the scientific, theoretically derived, and rigorous investigation of that which is positive in organizational settings” (Cameron & Caza, 2004, p. 731). Another group of scholars have focused on applying positive psychology to the workplace. This work, known as Positive Organizational Behavior (POB), centers its attention on the individual level of analysis and in particular on the development processes that can be leveraged for performance improvement. The following section further describes POB.

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Positive Organizational Behavior Encouraged by positive psychology‟s renewed focus on studying what is right about people, organizational behavior researchers applied positive psychological research to the workplace. Positive Organizational Behavior is defined as “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” (Luthans, 2002b, p. 59). A broad range of positive workplace topics have been addressed in the literature. POB researchers are interested in a more specific subset of these workplace positivity constructs. In the introduction of POB to the literature, scholars established working boundaries and criteria for inclusion in the list of positive psychological resource capacities. Among these standards for inclusion are having a solid theory and research base, having valid and reliable measures, existing at the individual or micro level, exhibiting state-like and developmental characteristics that can be enhanced through brief interventions, and having illustrated an ability to impact work-related performance (Luthans, 2002a, 2002b; Luthans & Youssef, 2007; Wright, 2003; Youssef & Luthans, 2007, 2009). While concepts including subjective well-being and emotional intelligence have been proposed as potential POB concepts in the past (Luthans, 2002b), the four receiving the majority of attention by POB researchers are self-efficacy, hope, optimism, and resilience. These four capacities are described in further detail in the following sections.

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Self-efficacy Interest in beliefs about personal control has a long history in psychology. This study of perceived competence was first defined and articulated under the heading “self- efficacy” by Albert Bandura in an influential Psychological Review article (Bandura, 1977a). More recent conceptualizations of the concept include references to “judgments of how well one can execute courses of action to deal with prospective situations” (Bandura, 1982, p. 122) and “beliefs in one‟s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to produce given attainments” (Bandura, 1997, p. 3). Self- efficacy beliefs are not beliefs about an individual‟s level or type of skill set, but rather what they can accomplish by utilizing the skills that they do have (Bandura, 1986). They are not concerned with what an individual intends to do, but rather with beliefs about what one has the capacity or ability to do (Maddux, 2009). Related to POB research, a widely accepted definition of self-efficacy references “an individual‟s convictions (or confidence) about his or her abilities to mobilize the motivation, cognitive resources, and courses of action needed to successfully execute a specific task within a given context” (Stajkovic & Luthans, 1998b, p. 66). Initially introduced as the “best fit POB capacity” (Luthans, 2002a), self-efficacy meets the POB criteria for inclusion with a solid theory and strong research base. With roots in Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 1977b), self-efficacy also comes in part from one‟s capacity for symbolic thought and ability to respond to the environment (Maddux, 2002), as described extensively in Social Cognitive Theory (Bandura, 1986). Together, these theories underpinning self-efficacy have been among the most influential

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psychological contributions of the past 40 years, yielding the strong theory backup necessary for POB capacities. In addition to a solid theory and research base, self-efficacy has been shown to have valid and reliable measurement. Measurement of self-efficacy can include any of the three dimensions of self-efficacy, including magnitude, strength, and generality (Bandura, 1977a, 1986). However, since state-like self-efficacy exists within specific domains, measures should also be domain specific, with less emphasis on generality (Maddux, 2009). The typical format for measuring self-efficacy magnitude and strength (Wood & Locke, 1987) requires participants to answer two-part questions. In this format, yes or no answers are needed to assess magnitude (e.g., performing a certain task at a certain level). Then, to assess the strength dimension, the participant is asked to give their percentage of confidence in that answer. Later research (Lee & Bobko, 1994) found that the best composite score is arrived at by combining the percentage estimates for the strength dimension for all answers where the magnitude response was yes. While these measures were found to have acceptable psychometric properties, later research (Maurer & Pierce, 1998) found that more user-friendly Likert-type measurement formats could serve as acceptable alternatives as well. Among the many self-efficacy measures related to the workplace are those of career self-efficacy (as reviewed by O‟Brien, 2003) and role breadth self-efficacy (Parker, 1998). Parker‟s measure, designed to capture employees‟ “perceived capability of carrying out a broader and more proactive set of work tasks that extend beyond prescribed technical requirements” (Parker, 1998, p. 835), is drawn from for use in the present study.

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In order to be included as a POB capacity, a relationship to work-related performance must be established. Self-efficacy beliefs have been noted as a contributing factor for individuals who take higher levels of initiative, exert more effort and motivation to accomplish tasks, and more readily persist in the face of failure or significant obstacles (Bandura, 1986, 1997; Luthans, 2002a). Many studies have illustrated the theoretical and empirical relationships between self-efficacy and work- related performance in a variety of areas including leadership development (Chemers, Watson, & May, 2000), goal choice and task performance (Locke, Fredrick, Lee, & Bobko, 1984), decision making (Lam, Chen, & Schaubroeck, 2002), work attitudes across cultures (Luthans, Zhu, & Avolio, 2006), creativity (Tierney & Farmer, 2002), entrepreneurship (Boyd & Vozikis, 1994; Luthans & Ibrayeva, 2006), and academic success (Bandura, 1993). Additionally, more than ten meta-analyses (see Bandura & Locke, 2003 for a review) illustrate the relationship between self-efficacy and human functioning, with at least three meta-analyses reporting specifically on the strong relationship between self-efficacy and work-related performance (Judge, Jackson, Shaw, Scott, & Rich, 2007; Sadri & Robertson, 1993; Stajkovic & Luthans, 1998a). Self-efficacy has a rigorous and tested developmental framework. Self-efficacy beliefs are built from four primary information sources (Bandura, 1982, 2007; Gist, 1987). The strongest source of information for developing self-efficacy beliefs is often referred to as enactive mastery experiences or performance attainments (Bandura, 1977a, 1982; Bandura, Adams, & Beyer, 1977). However, it is not just achieving success that leads to increased self-efficacy, but the processing and interpretation of that success (Bandura, 2007; Stajkovic & Luthans, 1998b). The second source of information that can

Full document contains 114 pages
Abstract:   Psychological Capital, or PsyCap, is a core construct consisting of the positive psychological resources of efficacy, hope, optimism, and resilience. Previous research has consistently linked PsyCap to workplace outcomes including employee attitudes, behaviors, and performance. Further research has explored the ways in which PsyCap can be developed through relatively brief workplace interventions. The present study focuses on PsyCap development and the relationship to employee engagement and performance. In an experimental design with random assignment of subjects to control group (n = 52 managers and 152 associates) and treatment group (n = 58 managers and 239 employees), a field sample of managers in a financial services organization participated in a PsyCap micro-intervention. Although the financial services industry is in the midst of historical challenges, employees at the field site were remarkably positive throughout the study. High scores at the time of the pre-test indicate the possibility of a ceiling effect which may limit the significance of the differences in groups. Mean score differences between pre-test and post-test for the treatment group were generally in the hypothesized directions. Results indicate initial evidence supporting the presence of a contagion effect where employees reporting to the managers participating in the PsyCap intervention experienced an increase in their own PsyCap levels over a six-week period. Post-hoc analyses found significant correlations between PsyCap, employee engagement, and performance. The article concludes with a discussion of several practical implications and directions for future research.