Leadership and Employee Work Passion: Propositions for Future Empirical Investigations

[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Richard Egan of the University of Canberra, Mark Turner and Deborah Blackman of the University of New South Wales. They recently published an article in the Human Resource Development Review, entitled “Leadership and Employee Work Passion: Propositions for Future Empirical Investigations,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Egan reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

HRDR_72ppiRGB_powerpointIn what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

By measuring employee perceptions of their interpersonal experience with organizational leaders as well as employee affect and levels of intent, this study contributes to bridging the gap between the long-standing research base relating to organizational leadership and the emergent theory of employee work passion. Indeed, scholars such as Albrecht (2010) and Meyer, Gagné, and Parfyonova (2010) have called for research to integrate theories and evidence from adjacent fields. Such integration will allow Human Resource Development scholars and organizational practitioners to develop a deeper understanding of related psychological constructs that contribute to the development of work passion.

In terms of practical implications, by exploring theoretical links between leadership behavior, employee affect and work intentions, we develop and provide a relevant theoretical framework for future discussion, analysis and refinement. With a clearer understanding of how leadership impacts on employee affect and employee work intentions, HRD practitioners can measure the antecedents to and consequences of work passion accurately. Subsequently, appropriate behavioral interventions, such as training and coaching programs that aim to increase leader awareness and skills needed to build workplace environments where employees can choose to be passionate about their work, can be developed.

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An Educator’s Perspective on Reflexive Pedagogy: Identity Undoing and Issues of Power

[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Marian Iszatt-White of the Lancaster University Management School. Dr. Iszatt-White recently published an article in Management Learning entitled “An educator’s perspective on reflexive pedagogy: identity undoing and issues of power,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Iszatt-White reveals the inspiration for conducting this research and the impact it has on the field:]

mlqb_48_3.coverWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

All the authors of this paper are teachers as well as researchers, and spend much of our time working with ‘gnarly’ middle managers on executive education programmes and Executive MBAs. It was piloting an innovative leadership learning intervention (co-constructed coaching – the subject of an earlier paper in Management Learning by Steve and myself) with this latter population that triggered the insights underpinning this paper. Specifically, we realised that adopting a reflexive pedagogy had implications for us as ‘teachers’ as well as for our students. This was not the direction we intended the paper to go, but it really hit us as something important and not well understood in the literature. The idea of ‘identity undoing’, which Brigid had already developed, seemed key to our own experiences and offered a valuable framework for processing and theorizing them.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

A significant challenge in conducting this research was the autoethnographic element – which was not part of the original design but still needed to be methodologically robust. Our original intention had been to validate the idea of co-constructed coaching as a leadership learning intervention, which we had previously proposed. An early draft of the paper, pursuing this intent, happened to mention our own experience of implementing this intervention and our reviewers picked up on this as being interesting. This led Steve and I to home in on this previously marginal aspect of the project and to bring Brigid in as an ‘independent witness’ to our reflections on what it felt like to adopt a reflexive pedagogy. Brigid did a great job of ‘interrogating’ and then narrating key elements of this experience, which we were then able to theorize in relation to identity undoing and issues of power.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

In undertaking this analysis, we problematize the pursuit of a reflexive pedagogical practice within executive and postgraduate education and offer a paradox: the desire to engage students in reflexive learning interventions – and in particular to disrupt the power asymmetries and hierarchical dependencies of more traditional educator-student relationships – can in practice have the effect of highlighting those very asymmetries and dependencies. Successful resolution of such a paradox becomes dependent on the capacity of educators to undo their own reliance on and even desire for authority underpinned by a sense of theory-based expertise. We belief this insight – as well as the innovative use of autoethnographic methods to turn a critically reflexive lens upon academic teaching – will provide food for thought (and for further research) across a wide range of academic disciplines. With the introduction in the UK of the Teaching Excellence Framework, now seems to be a fitting time to review what it means to be an ‘expert’ teacher.

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Deconstructing Privilege and Equalizing Access to Employee Engagement

1118629691_d977a99f65_z[We’re pleased to welcome Brad Shuck of University of Louisville. Brad recently published an article in Human Resource Development Review with co-authors Joshua C. Collins, Tonette S. Rocco, and Raquel Diaz, entitled Deconstructing the Privilege and Power of Employee Engagement: Issues of Inequality for Management and Human Resource Development.” From Brad:]

We were inspired to write this article due to some experiences that each author had encountered in their own personal lives. In some situations, we found ourselves thinking about what work must be like for people we met in our daily lives, how they might be treated as an employee, and how their co-workers and leaders were experienced. I personally had a profound experience while traveling aboard, watching a man dig hundreds of small square holes in the blazing sun, with no break or water in long sleeves. Despite the conditions outside and what seemed to be the grueling nature of his work, he was smiling and seemed to be enjoying his duties. He moved from hole to hole with energy and presence, paying close attention to the details of the earth he was moving.

I wondered if it were possible for this man to be engaged when the conditions of his work seemed so tough. After some reflection, I realized that I needed to check my own privilege, realizing that I had a lot to learn about deconstructing issues related to privilege – and inherently power – when it came to exploring the idea of employee engagement. It was of course entirely possible for the man I met to be engaged – and for any person to be fully engaged in any work – and that so much of what I was assuming about his work – and again, the work of others – was wrapped in the ways individuals encountered experiences of privilege in their own work settings. It became important for us to explore these issues, as we suspected that both privilege and power potentially influenced experiences of engagement, although we knew very little about how and why this might happen.

Current Issue Cover

We were initially struck by the fact that almost universally, every organization wants higher levels of engagement, and despite decades worth of research and practice, the numbers on engagement have changed very little. Some have suggested that this is due in large part of the failure to win the hearts and minds of employees. We offer, however, that perhaps it is not a massive failure at all; rather for the many who go to work every day, organizational struggle is the norm due to encounters of privilege at play inside organizations. When employee engagement is a privilege only a select few employee’s experience, we agreed with scholars such as David Guest – who suggested that employee engagement is nothing more than a manufactured, normative, and exploitative overextension of work (our words, not his).

On the other hand, when organizations develop deeply inclusive cultures that foster engagement – when they support the conditions for engagement to flourish and all employees enjoy a positive psychological state of work—this leads to higher levels of performance, greater productivity, and experiences of higher levels of well-being. Because we define employee engagement as a psychological state dependent on an employees’ encounters with that organizational culture, the outcomes of employee engagement (i.e., higher performance) can be defined as a privilege for the organization. When an organization nurtures those conditions of engagement, employees are more likely to engage at higher levels and consequently perform better. Undoubtedly, higher levels of performance becomes an earned organizational asset that helps an organization advance and benefit over and at the expense of their competitors. The willingness to nurture the conditions for engagement develops as an authentic experience for the employee. From this perspective, employee engagement is not exploitative or overextending at all. It is transformational and positive, and it is a shared experience.

There is still so much to unpack and work through with this topic, and we hope that our work can inspire future research that might take up this perspective empirically, to test our propositions and better refine this still emerging theory. We also hope that those who read our ideas on this topic will think about their own engagement and how, if at all, their experiences with their own work have been influenced by encounters with privileged organizational structures and individuals, as well as what role they choose to play in that process and experience.

The abstract for the article:

The purpose of our work was to explore the job demands–resources model of engagement through the critical lens(es) of privilege and power. This deconstruction of the privilege and power of employee engagement was focused toward exploring four principal questions: Who (a) controls the context of work? (b) determines the experience of engagement? (c) defines the value of engagement? and (d) benefits from high levels of engagement? We conclude that organizations and employees both benefit from the outcomes associated with the heightened experience of employee engagement. We maintain, however, that the organization is uniquely positioned to influence systems of power and privilege that ultimately enable the conditions for engagement to flourish. Organizations desiring high levels of engagement have an obligation to confront manifestations of privilege such as unequal states of power, access, status, credibility, and normality.

You can read Deconstructing the Privilege and Power of Employee Engagement: Issues of Inequality for Management and Human Resource Development from Human Resource Development Review free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to stay current on all of the latest research from Human Resource Development ReviewClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

Read the New Virtual Special Issues from The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science!

We’re pleased to announce six new virtual special issues from The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science! Compiled by The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science associate editors Jean M. Bartunek and Jean E. Neumann, these research collections include titles such as “Action Research,” “Planned Change,” “Paradox and Contradictions” among others. Each collection contains a generous number of articles exploring group dynamics, organization development, and social change.

The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science editor William Pasmore introduced these collections:

We are very pleased to launch virtual collections of articles on themes JABS_72ppiRGB_powerpointthat have defined what JABS has stood for as a journal devoted to change for the past fifty years. Having these outstanding contributions in one location will enhance access to the ideas they present and hopefully, inspire continued scholarship of similar quality and purpose. In the future, we will be curating virtual collections on specific topics related to change, such as change readiness and factors that influence the success of change efforts. We hope you will look forward to examining these virtual collections. They are one more way that JABS can contribute to the advancement of science and practice in the arena of organizational and societal change.

You can click here to view all six of the virtual special issues from The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science. Like what you read? You can sign up to have all the latest news and research from The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science sent right to your inbox. Just click here to sign up for e-alerts!

Finding the Balance Between Greed and Altruism

yin-yang-1024035-mAre greedy managers or altruistic managers more successful? The answer may not be so black and white. According to Katalin Takacs Haynes, Matthew Josefy, and Michael A. Hitt, authors of “Tipping Point: Managers’ Self-Interest, Greed, and Altruism” from Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, harmony between the two characteristics is actually the most beneficial to firm performance.

The abstract:

We explore the potential effects of managers’ greed and altruism on their behaviors and firm outcomes. Greed represents extreme self-interest whereas altruism reflects concern for others. We argue that managerial greed leads to a focus on short-term decisions JLOS_72ppiRGB_powerpointand short-term firm performance. Alternatively, managerial altruism normally produces a focus on longer term decisions and long-term firm performance. Managerial greed is also more likely to produce wrongdoing, whereas managerial altruism produces greater corporate citizenship behaviors. Managerial greed is likely to lead to turnover for non-performance–related reasons whereas managerial altruism is more likely to produce managerial turnover for performance reasons. Overall, we conclude that measured self-interest keeps managers focused on the firm’s goals and measured altruism helps the firm to build and maintain strong human and social capital. The extremes of either greed or altruism likely will harm firm performance. Thus, balance between managerial self-interest and managerial altruism leads to the greatest success.

You can read “Tipping Point: Managers’ Self-Interest, Greed, and Altruism” from Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies for free by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest research like this from Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

Book Review: Informal Labor, Formal Politics, and Dignified Discontent in India

51+jLLjZIfLInformal Labor, Formal Politics, and Dignified Discontent in India. By Rina Agarwala. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. 264 pp. ISBN 978-1-107-66308-4, $29.99 (Paperback).

Looking for a good read for the long weekend? Akshay Mangla of Harvard Business School recently reviewed “Informal Labor, Formal Politics, and Dignified Discontent in India” in ILR Review.

Informal workers, unprotected by official labor law, make up a majority of the labor force in most developing countries. In addition to performing agricultural labor, informal workers construct roads, clean homes, staff kitchens, and knit clothing. Notwithstanding their centrality to the ILR_72ppiRGB_powerpointeconomy, scholarship on the organization and politics of informal workers remains sparse. We know far too little about the work conditions they experience, how they understand their rights, and not least of all, the strategies by which they organize and engage in formal politics. As with much of the informal economy, informal workers are largely treated as a residual category, one whose import is expected to diminish with economic and political modernization. While much recent scholarship documents the resilience of the informal economy in both developing and rich countries, few studies have investigated whether and how informal workers mobilize as a class and demand their rights. If anything, informality is thought to preclude workers from engaging in collective action given the dispersed and insecure nature of informal employment.

Informal Labor, Formal Politics, and Dignified Discontent in India offers a fascinating account of how informal workers in India have organized themselves to make collective demands on the state. India provides a rich and important context in which to study informal labor. More than 90% of the Indian labor force is engaged in informal work. Moreover, India’s diverse federal democracy offers considerable variation for analyzing the conditions under which informal workers successfully organize themselves. Agarwala exploits this variation effectively to examine informal worker organizations across two sectors, the construction industry and the bidi (hand-rolled cigarette) industry, and analyzes how successful they are across three Indian states. The study can be divided broadly into two parts: 1) it examines the organizational demands and strategies of India’s informal workers, and 2) it analyzes the political conditions that enable or constrain informal workers’ organizations from achieving their objectives. The research design allows Agarwala to analyze both industry- and state-level factors that could potentially shape the organizational strategies and effectiveness of informal workers’ organizations.

Click here to read the rest of the review from ILR Review! Want to know about all the latest research and reviews like this from ILR Review? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

Charles Pavitt on Social Influence During Group Decision Making

chess-722932-m[Editor’s Note: A special thanks to Charles Pavitt of University of Delaware, who took the time to give us some background on his article “An Interactive Input–Process–Output Model of Social Influence in Decision-Making Groups,” recently published in Small Group Research.]

I have been interested in social influence during group decision making since the mid 1990s. At that time, I was teaching small group communication a lot and using one of the classic Kogan/Wallach choice dilemmas as an exercise when teaching about the group polarization effect (tendency for groups to polarize SGR_72ppiRGB_powerpointin the direction the members originally lean toward). After watching at least 100 student groups doing the exercise, I realized that there were some communicative phenomena that were not adequately addressed in the then-current social psychological theory regarding group polarization. First, there was a natural stage process (first exchange preferred option, then exchange relevant information but only if there is disagreement on preferred options) that probably generalizes to any group decision making. Second, and I verified this later in my research, if groups are in general agreement on one option, they NEVER have anything good to say about any other option (which is why groups usually don’t find the better option in hidden profile research, in which each member’s information suggests one option but the information everyone has as a whole favors a better option).

Later, I came to realize that the traditional distinction between two types of group social influence (normative and informational) was a product of research without true group communication, and there are in actuality three types – that based on learning new relevant information, that based on learning the option preferences of trusted group members, and that based on wanting the group to like you or wanting the boss to accept you (which encompasses verbal compliance but no true preference change). Anyway, the motivation for this paper was based on these two insights – that there are three routes to social influence, and they unfold and intertwine over time in ways previous theory did not sufficiently describe.

[Interest in chatting with Dr. Pavitt about his work? You can email him at chazzq (at) udel (dot) edu. You can also click here to read “An Interactive Input–Process–Output Model of Social Influence in Decision-Making Groups” for free from Small Group Research! Want all the latest news and research from Small Group Research sent directly to your inbox? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!]

pavitt_cropCharles Pavitt is a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Delaware, United States. He enjoys doing scholarly work relevant to small group and interpersonal communication, communication theory, and (in his spare time) baseball.