On SAGE Insight: Role of Self-efficacy, Optimism and Job Engagement in Positive Change: Evidence from the Middle East

From Vikalpa: The Journal for Decision Makers
Published in Association with Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad

“When leaders adopt positive practices for change, it has significant outcomes”

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(POS), which refers to the investigation of positive outcomes, practices, attributes, and changes that occur in organizations and their members. Positive change examines factors that influence adoption of a positive lens, focusing on positively deviant performance, effects of an affirmative bias, and impact of virtuousness or best of human conditions.

Individuals who energize others performed higher than even those who were in the central role in the network.

After the global financial crisis, there was an urgent need for change at a Middle-Eastern financial services firm. The management team designed a positive business initiative called ‘RACE’, which involved various sports, arts, cultural, and everyday business activities, intended to engage employees and build their psychological strengths.

The RACE initiative had four major events—

Marathon (daily business parameters), hurdles (business challenges), sprint (sports), and relay (arts and cultural).

  • These practices engage the employees cognitively, emotionally, and physically.
  • These positive practices generate positively deviant performance.
  • Individuals feel safe to express themselves in these informal settings.
  • The fear of underperformance gets converted into the joy of participation.
  • On an ongoing basis, they set goals and identify alternative pathways for goal achievement.
  • When routine jobs are converted into games, employees are more likely to work with intensity and invest their energies into it.

This study explores the relationship of self-efficacy and optimism with performance outcome. It further provides an explanation of this relationship through the mediating role of three dimensions of job engagement, that is, cognitive, emotional, and physical. Positive organizational change has grown out of the newly emerging field of positive organizational scholarship.

Abstract

Executive Summary

Positive change comprises an examination of the factors that influence the adaptation of a positive lens, positively deviant performance, the effects of an affirmative bias, and the impact of pursuing the best of human conditions in an organization. To generate positive change, a Middle Eastern financial services firm designed and implemented a positive business initiative ‘RACE’, which involved various sports, arts, cultural, and everyday business activities, intended to engage employees and build their psychological strengths.

In the context of RACE initiative, this study examines the role of self-efficacy, optimism, and job engagement in positive change. Self-efficacy is a specific, positive expectation of success based on belief in one’s individual abilities. Employees’ with higher levels of optimism tend to maintain positive expectation about what will happen to them in the process of change. Employees who are engaged in the jobs bring in their complete selves by investing physical, emotional, and cognitive energies.

This study explores the relationship of self-efficacy and optimism with performance outcome. It further provides an explanation of this relationship through the mediating role of three dimensions of job engagement, that is, cognitive, emotional, and physical.

Responses were collected from 406 employees who participated in the RACE initiative. While all of the respondents are based in the UAE, the sample is international in nature, encompassing 15 countries. These respondents were asked to assess their own self-efficacy, optimism, and job engagement, along with their perception of the team-level performance of the branch office in which they work. The hypothesized relationships were tested in AMOS 20 using structural equation modeling.

The results indicate that higher levels of self-efficacy and optimism significantly predict higher levels of cognitive, emotional, and physical engagement. Also, the higher levels of cognitive, emotional, and physical engagement significantly predict performance. Further, significant indirect effects support the mediating role of job engagement in relationship between these psychological strengths and performance outcome. Thus, employees’ level of self-efficacy, optimism, and job engagement can be enhanced by designing and implementing business initiatives that are relevant to positive change.

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Article details
Role of Self-efficacy, Optimism and Job Engagement in Positive Change: Evidence from the Middle East
Raina Chhajer, Elizabeth L. Rose, Thomas Joseph
First Published December 30, 2018 Research Article
DOI: 10.1177/0256090918819396
Vikalpa: The Journal for Decision Makers.

     
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