Influence of Thriving on Innovative Behavior at Workplace.

AuthorLyndon, Shiji


Work constitutes a very important aspect of an individual and society's life. It is demonstrated by the fact that a significant amount of time of an individual's life is spent at the workplace and work also contributes greatly to the socio-economic development of any society (Harpaz, 1990). Despite the importance of work, research shows that work is a major contributor of stress (Sonnentag & Frese, 2003). However, work can also be a major source of thriving of an individual (Niessen et al., 2012). Thriving refers to psychological state wherein individuals experience positive energy and learning. Opportunities to thrive at work leads to positive outcomes. Past research has shown that thriving is an important antecedent to employee health and well-being (Shirom et al, 2008; Spreitzer et al., 2005), performance (Carmeli et al., 2009), leads to organizational citizenship behavior (Porath et al., 2007) and thriving also stimulates pro-activity at work (Ashby, Isen &Turken, 1999; Carmeli et al., 2009). Studies also show how experience of thriving can reduce burnout of an individual (Maslach, 2003).

Innovation is one of the key strategies identified by business organizations to improve firm performance in the ever changing competitive environment (Han, Kim & Srivastava, 1998; Weerawardena, O'Cass & Julian, 2006).Past studies have investigated the influence of leadership (Yidong & Xinxin, 2013) and organizational climate (Oldham & Cummings, 1996) on innovative work behavior. Innovation is not part of the institutionalized system of practices (Janssen, 2005) hence organizational members who are change averse and are committed to existing processes (Dougherty & Heller, 1994; Kanter, 1988) would neither themselves engage nor encourage innovative behavior in the organization. Hence it is an interesting question to find out what leads individual members to engage in innovative work behavior. The objective of this research is to find out the linkages between thriving and innovation and also to study the dimensions of thriving (vitality) and learning and its influence on innovative behavior at workplace. The study contributes to the field by examining how employee experience of vitality and learning opportunities stimulate employees to engage in innovative behavior at workplace.


Spreitzer, Sutcliffe, Dutton, Sonenshein & Grant (2005:538) defined thriving as "the psychological state in which individuals experience both a sense of vitality and a sense of learning at work". Individuals who experience thriving feel alive and energetic about their work and feel they are growing because of the learning opportunities (Spreitzer et al., 2005).Thriving is a temporary psychological state and not an enduring disposition (Chaplin et al., 1988).

The two essential conditions of thriving are vitality and learning. Vitality refers to feeling of energy and aliveness (Nix, Ryan, Manly & Deci, 1999). Learning refers to opportunity for growth and development by acquiring required skills and competencies. Thriving is closely linked to personality growth and hence a continuous process and not a onetime activity (Ryff, 1989).Vitality without learning does not lead to thriving as it would not provide opportunities for the individual to flourish. While, learning without vitality shall not lead to positive outcomes as the individual might not be motivated to exhibit newly acquired competencies at work place (Spreitzer et al., 2005). Thus, thriving includes both affective (vitality) and cognitive (learning) aspects of psychological state (Spreitzer et al., 2005).

Thriving is not a dichotomous state where an employee either experiences thriving or not. Instead, it is a continuous experience where an individual may experience less or more thriving. Sonenshein (2005) conducted a qualitative study which captured both vitality and learning dimensions of thriving. Spreitzer et al. (2005) developed a socially embedded model of thriving at work place which is based on the assumption that individuals thrive in the context of the situations in which they are placed. It is based on two dimensions of work i.e. the contextual features of the work unit and the resources which are produced while doing the work. The model explains how the contextual factors of the work (decision making discretion, information sharing, climate of trust and respect) leads to agentic work behavior (task focus, exploration, heedful relating) which leads to thriving at workplace. Further, the agentic behavior of the individuals produces resources (knowledge, positive meaning, positive affective resources, relational resources) which again leads to experience of thriving. The model also explains how experience of thriving at work leads to positive outcomes such as healthy adaptation to work environment leading to positive development of the individual.

There are other constructs which are similar to the concept of thriving such as those of flow, engagement and subjective wellbeing (Carmeli & Spreitzer, 2009; Niessen et al., 2012; Spreitzer et al., 2005). Flow is defined as "a subjective state of people when they are completely involved in something to the point of forgetting time, fatigue, and everything else but the activity itself' (Csikszentmihalyi & Rathunde, 1993: 59). Flow leads...

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