Psychological capital & citizenship behavior: evidence from telecom sector in India.

AuthorShukla, Amit


The concept of psychological capital (PsyCap) emerged with the growing importance of human-centric approaches in the organizational context. Emphasis has gradually shifted from physical capital (physical assets) to human capital (represented by knowledge, skills and abilities or KSAs) and then, to social capital (networking and its benefits) over the past few decades. Psychological capital is a relatively new addition to this development and refers to a positive outlook of an individual about (not necessarily restricted to) his job and organization. The concept draws from the core of positive psychology that emphasizes on strengths and virtues, rather than dysfunctions and weaknesses (Peterson & Seligman, 2004; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000) of people.

Initially it was primarily linked to productivity (Goldsmith et al, 1998) but later, its positive relationship with desirable (Luthans et al., 2007 a) and negative relationship with undesirable (Bakker & Demerouti, 2006) workplace attitudes and behaviour were empirically established. Later, researchers suggested that the benefits of this capital are not restricted to individuals only and, at aggregate level, can be a source of competitive advantage for the entire organization (Luthans & Youssef, 2004).

Rationale for Study

Fluidity is one of the distinctive characteristics of new age organizations after globalization (Friedman, 2005). Due to fast changing external business scenario, the rules are turning more flexible, internal boundaries increasingly blurred and, as a result, job demand more uncertain. So in this era of uncertainty and malleability, we need to look beyond personality traits, relatively stable individual dispositions. PsyCap captures this dynamism and determines the ability to quickly respond to emerging situation with a sanguine mental frame comprising, hope, optimism, confidence and resilience. We are interested in exploring association of PsyCap with some desirable attributes (job satisfaction and OCB) and also in ascertaining its predictive power for these variables. Literature review revealed that there is lack of empirical research investigating relationships between PsyCap and the other two aforementioned variables. PsyCap, in general, was found to be scantly studied a variable in the Indian context. This way present work aims to address these issues. The study is conducted in a large telecom organization and requisite empirical evidence is provided. Findings are presented and its possible implications for researchers and practitioners are discussed.

Positive Organization Behavior & PsyCap

Psychological capital is a relatively new concept in the field of positive organization behavior (POB). POB itself evolved and flourished as a result of development in the field of positive psychology (Peterson & Seligman, 2004; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). Positive psychology stresses on the strengths of people rather than weaknesses. It deals with the possibility of individual growth and development by shifting focus away from negative to positive aspects.

Psychological Capital (PsyCap)

As delineated by Luthans (2002), psychological capital is a micro-level state like construct that can be measured, developed, and effectively managed for performance improvement in today's workplace. Those high in PsyCap indicated to have higher job satisfaction (Luthans et al., 2007 a). On the contrary, the negative linkage between PsyCap and stress related outcomes like burnout, psychological exhaustion or impaired heath has also been established (Bakker & Demerouti, 2006). Luthans et al. (2002, 2007 a) have suggested inclusion of four constructs, namely, hope, optimism, resilience and self-efficacy into the domain of POB. These constructs are fairly distinct and represent an individual's positive frame of mind. The umbrella concept of PsyCap encompasses these dimensions and a brief description about them is presented below.

Hope: Snyder et al. (1996) defined hope as a positive motivational state that is based on an interactively derived sense of successful: (1) agency (goal directed energy) and (2) pathways (planning to meet goals). Hence key constituents of hope can be: agency (will-power), pathways (way-power), and goals. Agency component is related to the motivational energy that keeps directing one on the path of goal attainment. Pathway component is concerned with means to achieve a goal. It is linked to instrumentality.

Optimism: Seligman (1998) defined optimism as making an internal, relatively stable, and global attribution regarding positive events such as goal achievement, and an external, relatively unstable, and specific cause for negative events like a failed attempt at reaching a goal. This way optimism is not necessarily based on realistic assessment of situation but it's a state like characteristic where objective assessment about what one can accomplish in a specific situation, given the available resources at that time, and therefore can vary (Peterson, 2000).

Resilience: Resilience is related to coping behavior and resulting adaptation in the wake of adversity or failures (Masten et al., 2002). When applied to work-place, it is defined as "positive psychological capacity to rebound, to 'bounce back' from adversity, uncertainty, conflict, failure, or even positive change, progress and increased responsibility" (Luthans, 2002). So the striking difference posited by Luthans in this definition is incorporation of coping behaviors even during positive changes, which may frequently occur in work-place. So basically, resilience or resiliency is the capacity to maintain equanimity during sudden and significant changes.

Self-efficacy: The concept of self efficacy evolved through extensive research of Bandura (1997). Recently it was linked to positive psychology (Bandura, 2007). General self efficacy (Bandura, 1982) is trait based self-efficacy and contextually wider in nature.

Stajkovic & Luthans (1998) defined efficacy as the individual's conviction (or confidence) about his or her abilities to mobilize the motivation, cognitive resources, and courses of action needed to successfully execute a speciuc task within a given context. The higher-order core construct of PsyCap represents the common variance among the four component dimensions and as noted has both conceptual (Luthans et al., 2007 b) and empirical...

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