Optimism, self-efficacy and meaningfulness : towards a aalutogenic model of occupational wellbeing

Steyn, Ria (2011-12)

Thesis (MComm)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: From a global perspective, this study aimed to depart from the traditional notion of occupational wellbeing characterised as the absence of strain and stress-related diseases. Positive Organisational Scholarship (POS), the framework for this study, is largely concerned with the investigation of positive outcomes, processes and attributes of organisations and their employees. In essence, this study argued in favour of the cultivation of personal resources, such as optimism and self-efficacy, as well as the establishment of active efforts to instil meaningfulness in, and at work, in order to generate better occupational wellbeing and a sense of enhanced human functioning. A non-experimental research design (i.e. exploratory survey study) was used to explore the relationships between the various constructs. Occupational wellbeing was, for the purpose of empirical validation, firstly measured in terms of the absence of pathology. However, since it was conceptualised from a salutogenic approach in this study, a cognitive-judgemental evaluation of employees‟ satisfaction with their work-life was also included as a measure of occupational wellbeing. It was argued that optimism may impact on occupational wellbeing, as optimists are described in terms of their ability to anticipate positive outcome expectancies, and engage in continued efforts, despite current adverse circumstances to confront difficulties they encounter (Scheier & Carver, 1985). In turn, highly self-efficacious individuals are those exhibiting confidence in their ability to effectively execute personal strategies to ensure a positive outcome (Bandura, 1986). Drawing from POS, a twofold conceptualisation of meaningfulness was warranted: meaningfulness in work (defined as engagement) and meaningfulness at work (defined as organisational commitment). The primary aim of this study was consequently to explicate the possible nomological net underlying the complex phenomenon of occupational wellbeing, in terms of the abovementioned variables. A convenience sample of 202 individuals, employed at three organisations across South Africa, participated in the research. The measurement instruments included a 28-item version of the original General Health Questionnaire by Goldberg (1972), and an adapted version of Diener, Emmons, Larsen and Griffin‟s (1985) Satisfaction with Life Scale (adapted to Satisfaction with Work-life), both utilised to measure occupational wellbeing. The Life Orientation Test-Revised (Scheier, Carver and Bridges, 1994), and the General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSES) of Sherer, Maddux, Mercandante, Prentice-Dunn, Jacobs and Rogers (1982) was utilised to measure optimism and self-efficacy respectively. Finally, the Organisation Commitment Questionnaire (Mowday, Porter & Steers, 1979), and the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (Schaufeli & Bakker, 2003) was used in combination to respectively measure meaningfulness in work (engagement) and meaningfulness at work (commitment). Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and item analyses were conducted to evaluate the reliability and validity of the measurement instruments. Correlations were computed between the various variables. A structural model was fitted to investigate the extent to which optimism, self-efficacy and meaningfulness are significant predictors of occupational wellbeing. The results of the model suggested that optimism influences psychological health directly. This indicates that optimists may be inclined to experience greater levels of psychological wellbeing at work. The relationship between optimism and occupational wellbeing (i.e. psychological health) was further highlighted through an indirect causal effect, as mediated through a combination of work engagement and organisational commitment (i.e. meaningfulness). Optimism also causally influenced satisfaction with work life (the other aspect of occupational wellbeing). This indirect effect was also mediated by engagement and organisational commitment. The structural model indicated that no significant paths between self-efficacy and any of the other variables were evident. With the unique combination of positive psychological antecedents included in this research, the study aimed to make a significant contribution to the existing POS theory and literature. The results provide a probable explanation of the complex nomological net of variables (optimism, self-efficacy, and meaningfulness) and their interrelationships with each other, which influence occupational wellbeing within the South African context. Recommendations for future research in this domain were highlighted. The necessity of interventions rooted in the strength-based approach, underscoring the development of positive psychological capacities in both employees, and organisations, were also advocated.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Vanuit ʼn globale perspektief het hierdie studie gepoog om afstand te doen van die tradisionele uitgangspunt van die definiëring van beroepswelstand as slegs die ontbreking van spanning- en stres verwante kwale. Positiewe Organisatoriese Leerlingskap (POL), die raamwerk van hierdie studie, hou grotendeels verband met die soeke na positiewe uitkomste, prosesse en karaktertrekke binne organisasies, sowel as hul werknemers. In wese het die studie argumente voorgehou in guns van die ontwikkeling van persoonlike hulpbronne soos optimisme en selfbekwaamheid, asook die totstandbringing van daadwerklike pogings om betekenisvolheid in, en by die werk te genereer, vir beter beroepswelstand en prestasie. „ n Nie-eksperimentele navorsingsontwerp (dit is, ʼn verkennende studie) was gebruik om die verband tussen die verskeie konstrukte te ondersoek. Ten einde empiriese validasie gestand te doen, is beroepswelstand eerstens gemeet as die ontbreking van enige stres-verwante siektes. Nietemin, aangesien die konstruk in hierdie studie gedefinieer was vanuit ʼn salutogeniese perspektief, is ʼn addisionele kognitiewe-beoordelings evaluasie van werknemers se satisfaksie met hul werkslewe, ook gebruik ten einde beroepswelstand te meet. Argumente wat die rol van optimisme in welstand benadruk is voorgehou en uitgedruk in terme van optimiste se vermoë om positiewe uitkomste te verwag, asook hul aanhoudende pogings ten spyte van leiding en swaarkry (Scheier & Carver, 1985). Net so word hoogs selfbekwame individue beskryf in terme van hul vertroue in hul vermoë om persoonlike strategieë suksesvol uit te voer ten einde positiewe uitkomste te verseker (Bandura, 1986). Vanuit die POL vertrekpunt is betekenisvolheid in hierdie studie as twee aparte, maar verwante konstrukte, gekonseptualiseer: betekenisvolheid in werk (gedefinieer as werknemers betrokkenheid), en betekenisvolheid by die werk (gedefinieer as organisatoriese lojaliteit). Die primêre doel van die studie was derhalwe die verduideliking van die moontlike nomologiese net onderliggend aan die komplekse fenomeen van beroepswelstand in terme van die bogenoemde veranderlikes. ʼn Gerieflikheidsteekproef van 202 personeel van drie organisasies regoor Suid Afrika het aan die navorsingsprojek deelgeneem. Die meetinstrumente het bestaan uit die 28-item weergawe van die oorspronklike Algemene Gesondheid Vraelys van Goldberg (1972), en ʼn aangepaste weergawe van Diener, Emmons, Larson en Griffin (1985) se Satisfaksie met die Lewe Skaal (aangepas na Satisfaksie met werkslewe), wat albei gebruik is om beroepswelstand te bepaal. Die hersiene weergawe van die Lewensoriëntasie Skaal (Scheier, Carver & Bridges, 1994), asook die Algemene Selfbekwaamheid Skaal (Sherer, Maddux, Mercandante, Prentice-Dunn, Jacobs & Rogers, 1982) is gebruik om onderskeidelik optimisme en selfbekwaamheid te meet. Laastens is die Organisatoriese Lojaliteit Vraelys (Mowday, Porter & Steers, 1979) en die Utrecht Werknemer Betrokkenheid Skaal (Schaufeli & Bakker, 2003) in kombinasie gebruik om die konstrukte van onderskeidelik betekenisvolheid in werk (werknemer betrokkenheid), en betekenisvolheid by die werk (organisatoriese lojaliteit) te ondersoek. Bevestigende faktorontleding en item analises was gebruik om die betroubaarheid en geldigheid van die meetinstrumente te ondersoek. Die korrelasies tussen die verskeie konstrukte was ook bereken. ‟n Strukturele model is gepas om te bepaal of optimisme, selfbekwaamheid en betekenisvolheid ʼn beduidende impak op beroepswelstand het. Die resultate van die model suggereer dat optimisme ʼn direkte invloed het op die ervaring van beroepswelstand. Dit dien as aanduiding dat optimiste geneig is om merendeels hoër vlakke van sielkundige welstand by die werk te ervaar. Hierdie verhouding tussen optimisme en beroepswelstand (dit is, sielkundige welstand) was verder bevestig deur bewyse van ʼn indirekte kousale verband tussen die konstrukte wat gemedieër is deur ʼn kombinasie van werknemer betrokkenheid en organisatoriese lojaliteit (dit is, betekenisvolheid). Optimisme het verder ʼn kousale invloed gehad op die ervaring van satisfaksie met werkslewe (die ander dimensie van organisatoriese welstand). Hierdie direkte impak is ook verder gemedieër deur werknemer betrokkenheid en organisatoriese lojaliteit. Daar was egter geen beduidende verwantskappe tussen selfbekwaamheid en enige van die ander konstrukte gevind nie. Gegewe die unieke kombinasie van positiewe sielkunde konstrukte wat in hierdie studie ingesluit is, kan daar gesê word dat hierdie studie gepoog het om ʼn bydrae te maak ten opsigte van die bestaande POL teorieë en literatuur. Die resultate van die studie verskaf ʼn waarskynlike verduideliking vir die komplekse nomologiese net van konstrukte (optimisme, selfbekwaamheid, en betekenisvolheid), en hul unieke inter-korrelasies wat ʼn beduidende rol speel in die ervaring van beroepswelstand binne die Suid Afrikaanse konteks. Aanbevelings vir verdere navorsing in die area was voorgehou. Die nodigheid van intervensies rakende die ontwikkeling van positiewe sielkundige bevoegdhede binne organisasies en individue, is ook uitgespel.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/17862
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