Journal of Organizational Behavior

J. Organiz. Behav. 23, 695–706 (2002)
Published online in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com). DOI: 10.1002/job.165

Invited The need for and meaning of
Essay positive organizational behavior
FRED LUTHANS*
Department of Management, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, U.S.A.

Summary This essay draws from the emerging positive psychology movement and the author’s recent
articles on the need for and meaning of a positive approach to organizational behavior. Spe-
cifically, the argument is made that at this time, the OB field needs a proactive, positive
approach emphasizing strengths, rather than continuing in the downward spiral of negativity
trying to fix weaknesses. However, to avoid the surface positivity represented by the non-
sustainable best-sellers, the case is made for positive organizational behavior (POB) to take
advantage of the OB field’s strength of being theory and research driven. Additional criteria
for this version of POB are to identify unique, state-like psychological capacities that can not
only be validly measured, but also be open to development and performance management.
Confidence, hope, and resiliency are offered as meeting such POB inclusion criteria. The
overall intent of the essay is to generate some positive thinking and excitement for the OB
field and ‘hopefully’ stimulate some new theory building, research, and effective application.
Copyright # 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Introduction

Being a member of the first generation of organizational behavior scholars, I have watched in awe and
pride over the years as our field has become increasingly sophisticated in terms of research methodol-
ogy and analysis. At the same time, however, I am amazed at the dearth of new core concepts or new
perspectives/approaches to the old concepts. Notice that I said core concepts (e.g., work motivation,
job attitudes, or organizational leadership), because there are obviously a number of exciting new OB-
related variables being researched (e.g., see articles in JOB).
As an example of the concern for the lack of development of core concepts, Steers (2002, p. 146)
recently noted that ‘by the early 1990s, intellectual interest in the development of work motivation
theories—at least as measured by journal publications—has seemed to decline precipitously.’ Yet,
I am even more disturbed by the wildly enthusiastic reception that first Ken Blanchard’s One Minute
Manager, then Steven Covey’s Seven Habits, and now Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese,
all dealing with OB topics, but with no theoretical development or any research back-up, has received

* Correspondence to: Fred Luthans, Department of Management, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68588-0491, U.S.A.
E-mail: fluthans1@unl.edu

Copyright # 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi. 6). his daughter’s whining or people’s pathologies and dysfunctions). 2000. p. 1998c. happiness. Behav. his famous studies on learned helplessness). In the mean time. Organiz. I became aware of the emerging positive psychology movement. Ltd. 2000) is generally recognized to be the main proselytizer—the spearhead of today’s positive psychology movement.g. ‘it is about identifying and nurturing their strongest qualities. Importantly. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Like most psychologists. after World War II. and resiliency. Gallup also sponsored the first Positive Psychology Conference three years ago. provided a ‘eureka’ for me of how this positive approach could be taken to organizational behavior. 23.. human frailties and weaknesses (e. However... I will attempt to chart where we need to go from here in terms of theory-building and research that will lead to effec- tively implementing positive organizational behavior in today’s workplace. LUTHANS from practising professional managers. the widely known early work of Terman. Finally. I for one did become upset with how things were going and the lack of progress being made. optimism. Seligman suddenly realized that raising children.696 F. The Gallup consulting practice is based on identifying and managing employee strengths (see the empirically based professional books by Gallup practice leaders Buckingham and Coffman (1999) and Buckingham and Clifton (2001)). he claims an epiphany occurred when his young daughter said to him: ‘When I turned five. This positive psychology movement seemed to have considerable relevance to the workplace and potentially may have the type of commonsense appeal that the best sellers were having in the professional management marketplace of ideas and pos- sible solutions to current challenges. Although I am sure not everyone agrees with this negative assessment of the OB field and important exceptions can be readily pointed out. I became aware of this development in academic psychology from my association (as a senior research scientist) with the Gallup Organization (the well-known polling firm that now has over 90 per cent of its world-wide business in management consulting and workplace development). is much more than just concentrating on and trying to fix what is wrong with them (i. Instead. and helping them find niches in which they can best live out these strengths’ (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi. The papers presented at this and the subsequent aca- demic conferences under the general leadership of internationally recognized research psychologists Martin Seligman and Ed Diener. but also make the lives of people more productive and fulfilling and to identify and nurture talented. Jung.e. or studying people in general. J. he had spent his career researching and being concerned with what is wrong with people. gifted people (e. & Maslow). Then swirling in my own negativity. the purpose of this essay is to give a brief overview of the positive psychology movement in general and the meaning of at least my version of positive organizational behavior. p. 695–706 (2002) . 2000. This is what I had been searching for—a theory and research-driven new perspective and approach to our old OB concepts and some new and exciting core concepts such as confidence. hope. 1999. I decided not to whine anymore. The Positive Psychology Movement Seligman (1998a. Shortly after being elected president of the American Psychological Association a few years ago. what they own and are best at. 6). Besides providing this brief background on my perceived need for a new. And if I can stop whining. psychology’s recognized mission was not only to help the mentally ill. the chasm between OB theory and research and real-world application seems to be ever widening. mainly driven by employment opportunities in clinical psychology for treating the Copyright # 2002 John Wiley & Sons. you can stop being such a grouch’ (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi.g. Fifty years ago. positive approach to OB.

but only about 1000 on positive concepts and capabilities of people. and Rick Snyder (2000). Behav. Unlike the popular ‘feel good’ positive approaches of the past. positive traits such as the capacity for love. or the recent best-sellers by Covey and Spencer Johnson. Organiz. and a strong work ethic). and 10 000 on anger. Even the training and perspective of psychologists in modern times has been based on a reductionist epistemological tradition. 20 000 on fear.. 695–706 (2002) . 23. is booming. about the impact that positive psychology can have for the OB field and its application to develop and improve leadership effectiveness and employee performance. by both academics and knowledgeable others has been spectacular.e. Christopher Peterson (2000). the micro. flow and happiness in the pre- sent.e. 216). high talent. positive subjective experience such as well being and contentment with the past. civility. positive civic virtues and the institutions that move individuals toward better citizenship such as responsibility. Over the years the tendency has been to view positivity with doubt and suspicion—a product of wishful thinking. and my association with Gallup. and the macro group and institutional level (i. courage. For example. the field almost totally shifted to a negative approach.. spirituality. and also including the demand for solid research backup (e. perseverance. there have been unprece- dented back-to-back year’s special issues devoted to positive psychology in the American Psychologist (January 2000. Clinical psychologists gave almost all of their attention to the diagnosis and treatment of pathologies. As a long time researcher and writer. Schmidt. a search of contemporary literature in psychology as a whole found approximately 200 000 published articles on the treatment of mental illness. Led by Seligman and a core group of other well known research-oriented positive psychologists such as Ed Diener (2000). see Harter. such as Norman Vincent Peale’s famous message of the ‘power of positive thinking’. & Hayes. especially post 11 September 2001. For example. 2001). The reception to this positive approach to psychology. 2001. and hope and optimism into the future). even in the economic downturn of the past couple of years. J. prosperity and the good life (as opposed to the remediation of pathology). In the remainder of this essay I will try to articulate this new-found enthusiasm. 2002a. altruism. or even ‘hucksterism’ (Sheldon & King. the aim of positive psychology is to shift the emphasis away from what is wrong with people to what is right with peo- ple—to focus on strengths (as opposed to weaknesses).. moderation. aesthetic sensibility. Implications for Organizational Behavior I have recently in other articles made the case for and suggested the implications of positive psycho- logy for organizational behavior (Luthans. individual level (i. to be interested in resilience (as opposed to vulnerability). and wisdom). tolerance. forgiveness. POSITIVE ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR 697 mentally ill and funding for experimental psychologists from the National Institute of Mental Health (that Seligman suggests should be renamed the National Institute of Mental Illness).e. I have found in the positive psychology movement what I was looking for to get me out of my own negativity with the OB field. 65 000 on anxiety. The levels of analysis have been summarized by Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi (2000) to be at the subjective level (i. based on the positive psychology ideals of identifying and managing employee strengths (Buckingham & Clifton. Ltd. 2001. and to be concerned with enhancing and developing wellness. 80 000 on depression.. denial. Luthans & Jensen. 2002). my positivity if you will. 2002b. deficiencies and dysfunctions of human behavior. 2002a. positive psychology follows its heritage of insisting on sound theory and research before moving on to application and practice. p. March 2001) and also the Winter 2001 Journal of Humanistic Psychology. 2003. Copyright # 2002 John Wiley & Sons. delusions. Gallup’s consulting business. and social psychology became preoccupied with biases.g.

Also.. problems and dysfunctions of managers and employees rather than their strengths and psychological capacities for development and performance improvement. J. Judge. 2003). Covey or Johnson. 24/7 competition. and even humor. Organiz. respectful encounters. more attention has been given to negative as opposed to positive affectivity. & Luthans. Other emerging positive approaches are at the trait-like positive personality level of analysis (e. Seligman. Erez. 2002a. 1994. 2001) and more macro level of analysis (e.. The open-to-development criterion of POB is conceptually perhaps the most critical differentiator with positive psychology per se and the other positively oriented concepts of organizational behavior. see the University of Michigan’s positive organization scholarship group’s focus on strength-building elements in organi- zation such as compassion. 2002. stress and burnout as opposed to eustress. 59). and effectively man- aged for performance improvement in today’s workplace (Luthans. Specifically. specific attention has been given to the value of constructs such as positive reinforcement. & Quinn. I would argue that the general perspec- tive and relative attention in OB has been characterized more by negativity than by positivity.bus.g. Wright & Staw. 1986) with some research back up (Staw. Sutton. I would argue in light of today’s turbulent environment characterized by economic uncertainty. The development criterion is differentiated in organizational behavior from posi- tively oriented Big Five personality traits. For example. 2003). Luthans & Stajkovic. Positive Organizational Behavior (POB) I have defined micro-level. 1999). Robinson and Bennett (1995) developed a typology of deviant work-place behaviors. dignity. & Bono. and the deficiencies. Dutton. the time has come to follow the lead of psychology and take a proactive positive organizational behavior approach. globalized. However. 1999). 695–706 (2002) .g. This definition deliberately includes criteria of being measurable and making a contribution to performance improve- ment in the workplace. locus of control and Copyright # 2002 John Wiley & Sons. p. POB as defined here. forgiveness. positive affect and emotion. Hodgetts. & Pelled. 1991). and never-ending advanced technology. 23. Behav. trait-like taxonomy of character or virtues called for in positive psychology (e. see Sandage & Hill. generalized self-efficacy. Staw. includes state-like concepts rather than the dispositional. There has been an implicit truism in the organizational behavior field through the years of the relationship between positive feelings of employees and their performance (e. 1998. 2001. Judge & Bono. virtue. or the positive core self-evaluation traits of self-esteem. the measurement criterion requires POB to have theory and research back-up and thus differentiates it from the surface positivity found in the popular ideas of Peale. state-like POB as the study and application of positively oriented human resource strengths and psychological capacities that can be measured.. Luthans.698 F. resistance to change as opposed to acceptance/celebration of change. heightened geo- political unrest and threats. For example. Following the positive psychology movement.g. especially conscientiousness (Barrick & Mount. I have taken a micro-level of analysis concentrating on state-like strengths and positive capacities that can be developed and managed for performance improvement in the workplace. integrity and virtue—see their website: www. The criterion of being related to performance improvement in the workplace differentiates POB from being the simple personal development idea found in the best-sellers and also much of the Michigan group’s positive organizational scholarship (POS) which focuses primarily on constructs such as compassion. similar to the field of psychology. LUTHANS 2002b) and leadership (Luthans.edu/positiveorganizationalscholarship and their upcoming book—Cameron.. Ltd.umich. and forgiveness as ends in themselves for today’s organizations.g. developed.

while as I said before. although not as unique to OB as some of the other concepts such as hope or resiliency. Here. it is this state-like nature of self-efficacy that makes such a good fit with my definition of POB. the acronym CHOSE) were presented as meeting the definitional criteria. The POB states can be developed through training programmes. subjective well-being (or happiness). 1999). 1998a. Seligman. but I have not yet presented as a POB construct. 1998. even though these OB concepts have been demonstrated to be linked to job-performance. As defined here. trait-like characteristics and virtues (e. is probably the best known and arguably has the most extensive theoretical foundation and research support. I feel that for application and relevancy to leadership effectiveness and employee performance. 122). resiliency. 2000. 23. Pierce & White.g. confidence (or self-efficacy). hope. and emotional intelligence (i. A major reason for this omission is that self-efficacy (not general efficacy) is known as being a state. Ltd. 695–706 (2002) . see Fredrickson. More applicable to POB is our broader definition: ‘Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s conviction (or confidence) about his or her abilities to mobilize the motivation. I feel to get around the charge of simply pouring old wine into a new POB bottle. 2002a).e. 1999).. what psychological capabilities meet such POB criteria? In a previous article. the most unique. see Allen & Potkay. 1982. POSITIVE ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR 699 emotional stability (Judge & Bono. where I first laid out my version of POB (Luthans.. change. 1981) and some psychological constructs (including those in POB) have been shown to be both conceptually and psychometrically state-like and trait-like (Luthans.. I would argue self-efficacy also best meets the criteria of theory. cognitive resources. see Nicholsen. Peterson. the concepts in POB should also be relatively unique to the OB field. open to development (i.g.. but I believe highest impact. managed/led on-the-job. or self-developed. and courses of action needed to successfully Copyright # 2002 John Wiley & Sons. and even evolutionary. POB must go beyond mere employee selection as is offered by the positive traits. articles and research studies on these POB concepts. genetically encoded ‘hard wiring’ of enduring personal resources such as positive emotions (e. The definition of self-efficacy that is most widely used comes from Bandura’s early statement con- cerning an individual’s perceptual judgment or belief of ‘how well one can execute courses of action required to deal with prospective situations’ (Bandura. yet is seldom included in discussions of positive psychology. Then the question becomes. development. 1999) and the strength-based consulting firm Gallup’s overriding concern for natural talent (Buckingham & Coffman. and management in the workplace. I either have or am in the process of developing conference papers. the state-like POB is differentiated from the ‘hardwired’ positive emotions coming from evolutionary and neuropsychology (e. In addition. Although there is a controversial and perhaps somewhat arbitrary distinction between states and traits (e. p.. or I simply choose to call confidence for the pur- pose of POB.. 2002a). Confidence as the Best Fit POB Capacity Bandura’s (1997) positive concept of self-efficacy.g. Organiz. I would like to single out the most established. 1998b). With colleagues. but potentially having great impact. 2001). Behav. optimism. In addition to these definitional criteria of being measurable. 2001). Furthermore. research and demonstrated impact on leadership effectiveness and employee performance in the workplace (see Stajkovic & Luthans. J.e. and finally a positive psychological capacity that meets the criteria. However. hope. state-like). the POB capabilities are states and thus open to learning.g. those in the vanguard of the positive psychology movement are most concerned with dispositional. and being related to performance improvement in the workplace. confidence (or self- efficacy).

Each of these are fairly obvious. Washington. the key to this definition is the task and context specificity. 42). p. the key to subsequent confidence is how the individual interprets and processes the previous success (e. Indeed. 695–706 (2002) . or as Bandura declares. For example. but being ill or burned-out can have a devastating effect on one’s confidence. success should not just be equated with future confidence. including conscientiousness (Barrick & Mount. 2001). 1987). Again. In order of importance. & Stevens. For example. For both persuasion and physical/psychological arousal. 1997) rich theory and considerable research support clearly indicates that the more confident the individual: * The more likely the choice will be made to really get into the task and welcome the challenge. feedback (Kluger & DeNisi. 66). 2001). In other words.g. is that Bandura (1997) has specifically identified how confidence can be developed and there are a number of studies demon- strating how efficacy can be effectively trained in the workplace (Bandura. 2001—paper presented at the Academy of Management.700 F. Bandura (2002) has recently reacted to the ‘mainstream of negativity’ in psycho- logy over the years and the attempts to ‘biologize psychology’ in his call for the ‘humanizing of psychology’ and ‘psychologizing biology’ through a positive approach. Copyright # 2002 John Wiley & Sons. Especially relevant to my prescribed criteria for POB. & Ibrayeva. Combs & Luthans. however. & Patton. and * The more persistence there will be when obstacles are encountered or even when there is initial failure. being physically or psychologically healthy helps one be confident in a number of areas. confidence can be developed through: (1) mastery experiences or performance attainments. this helps confidence some. and my own OB Mod. 1997. (2) vicarious learning or modelling. confidence has been shown to positively affect goal aspira- tions and attainment (Bandura. Stajkovic. Gist. * The more effort and motivation will be given to successfully accomplish the task. the observer must be able to relate to and identify with the successful model in order to have an impact on building one’s own confidence. it is obvious that previous success builds one’s confi- dence. 1998b. if positive. Like Seligman. entrepreneurial start-ups and managing very difficult situations such as in transitionary economies in post-communist countries (Luthans. & Locke. In addition to performance outcomes. but they do have important subtleties that need to be recog- nized in building confidence. 2000. 23. 1996). hurts confidence a lot. Perhaps the closest fit of confidence as a POB concept. p. ‘an efficacy belief is not a decontextualized trait’ (Bandura. DC. 1997).. 1990). Thoresen. (3) positively oriented persuasion or feedback on progress. J. hard-earned through one’s own efforts versus being easily handed the success). Bono. and (4) physiological and psychological arousal (Bandura. 1991). our (Stajkovic & Luthans. the Big Five personality traits. Mento. 2000. This profile of a highly confident leader or employee seems ideal for effectiveness and high performance in today’s workplace. For example. LUTHANS execute a specific task within a given context’ (Stajkovic & Luthans. I’m afraid does nothing for the confidence of my game. confidence can be developed in leaders and employees for specific tasks in given situations. However. I can build confidence in my own golf game by observing one of my similar-aged faculty colleagues experience success. if nega- tive. job satisfaction (Judge. but. Behav. Bavetta. Instead. This strength and positive psychologi- cal capacity has also been shown to have an impact on strategy formulation. confidence is not only open to development. Locke & Latham. (Stajkovic & Luthans. In the vicarious input. 1989. Gist. Ltd. 1997). I would contend that Bandura’s extensive work on self-efficacy is such a positive approach. Organiz. Peng. 1998a) meta-analysis of 114 studies found a stronger relationship between efficacy and work-related performance than other popular OB concepts such as goal setting (Wood. 2000. 1990). but Bandura’s (1986. but watching Tiger Woods win another Master’s.

p. Ruby. and even a couple of workplace studies that examine the impact on performance (Adams et al. there is initial research showing those with hope in stressful jobs such as human services do better (Kirk & Koeske. To date. and at least considerable indirect and beginning direct evidence of being related to leadership effectiveness and employee performance. however. makes such a good fit. 1997). 2001. Cook. 2002a). Rick Snyder. Copyright # 2002 John Wiley & Sons. while Snyder’s (2000) hope is initiated and determined through the self. 1998b). I am simply trying to make the case for why confidence. & Rehm. Also. In particular. which has been generally ignored by both the traditional OB field and the emerging positive psychology movement. hope has been given the least attention. Gist. Studies have clearly shown that hope has discriminant validity among positive psychological constructs (Magaletta & Oliver. positive psychologist C. Luthans. however. has a valid measure of ‘State Hope’ (Snyder et al. 2002). 1998a). hope would seem to be exactly the type of positive psychological capacity for OB that is needed to be further explored and applied. Besides the obvious implications that hope has in the clinical psychology and health fields. hope is defined as ‘a cognitive set that is based on a reciprocally derived sense of successful: (a) agency (goal-directed determination) and (b) pathways (planning of ways to meet goals)’ (Snyder et al. Organiz. 1998a. It is this duality of both the willpower (agency) and way power (pathways) that sets apart hope as a positive psychological capacity from the common usage of the term and from other conceptually close positive constructs such as self- efficacy or optimism. 1993. Ltd. Mainly through the theory and research of clinical. 1999.. 1998b explanatory attribution style). and positive affect (Curr et al. as in ‘hope for the best’. is that Bandura (1997) would argue that the efficacy expectancies are all-important. The same analysis can be made of other conceptually similar constructs such as goal setting or positive affectivity. 23. 1997. 695–706 (2002) . 2002b. 2002a for specific human resource developmental guidelines). Taylor & Brown. Stajkovic & Luthans. the willpower dimension of hope is similar to efficacy expectancies and the pathway dimension is conceptually close to efficacy outcome expectancies. The difference. Behav.. These and others either emphasize the agency or the pathways. relative to the other POB concepts in the CHOSE framework (see Luthans. Instead. iterative manner. 570). J. while Snyder’s (2000) hope theory treats the agency and the pathways as equally important.. Spencer & Spencer. 1995. at least with my suggested approach. operating in a combined. perceived control. Onwuegbuzie & Snyder. Although used in everyday language. to date hope has not. in recent years there is growing evidence of its positive impact on academic and athletic performance (Curry. because hope meets the POB criteria of being state-like (as well as dispositional. operationally defined. 1988). POSITIVE ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR 701 In total. see Snyder. There is evidence that an individual’s level of hope is related to goal expectancies.. but not both equally as does hope. Hope as the Most Unique POB Capacity Whereas self-efficacy/confidence has been presented in the organizational behavior literature and shown to have a strong positive relationship with work-related performance (Stajkovic & Luthans. to POB. 2000). Scioli et al. 1991.. However. 2000. 1996). 2002. Snyder. 2000) and thus open to development (see Luthans & Jensen. hope would be the most unique POB capacity. the intent here is not to give a comprehensive review of the role of self-efficacy and confidence in the workplace (see Bandura. 1987. 1997). hope as a positive psychology construct is precisely. Peterson & Luthans. 2002a. Simmons & Nelson. Yet. The major conceptual difference between hope and optimism is that optimism expectancies are formed through others and forces outside the self (Seligman’s.

. 2001). Masten. Block & Kreman. Resiliency. the word resilience is so commonly used and on the surface so similar to the other positive capacities. 1996) that highly resilient individuals tend to be more effective in a ‘fuzzier’ world. in consideration for inclusion as a POB capacity.702 F. Horne & Orr. resiliency is quite similar to the pathways component of hope. 1997). resiliency was thought to be an extraor- dinary. Carver. as organizations now find themselves. 1997. there can be resulting important implications for the workplace. LUTHANS Resiliency as a New POB Capacity Although resiliency has been recognized in the positive psychology movement (e. problem solving skills. This ‘ordinari- ness’ of resiliency has tremendous implications for applications to today’s workplace. uniqueness.g. p. but one that recognizes the state-like nature of resiliency is: ‘the capability of individuals to cope successfully in the face of significant change. and a sense of purpose and future.. Ltd. Benard (1991. Behav. relations to competent and caring support.. adversity. as a positive bounce-back reaction to either an adverse or eustressful event. uncertainty. resiliency has deep roots in clinical work. Mallak. conflict. 2001. I would argue that it is very relevant to the extraorganizational and internal environment currently facing organizational leaders and employees and makes a nice fit with the criteria laid out for POB. resiliency seems to nicely meet the criteria of positivity. but it is unique to the OB field. the main dif- ference between self-efficacy and resiliency is that resiliency tends to have a smaller domain and is reactive rather than proactive (Huey & Weisz. 695–706 (2002) . In simple terms. 1999). In simple.g. Stewart et al. attachment. 1996. normative human resources’ and ‘has profound implications for promot- ing competence and human capital in individuals and society’ (Masten. 1993) has identified attributes of resilient indi- viduals such as social competence. 1998). it needs to be conceptually differentiated. progress and increased responsibility. but how you take it. Now resiliency is recognized to come ‘from the everyday magic of ordinary. 1998). 1998. self-regulation. or risk. 1980. In relation to hope (Snyder. as concep- tualized earlier (see Dyer & McGuiness. failure or even positive change. Yet to be demonstrated is the positive impact that the resiliency capacity of leaders and employees has on effectiveness and performance improvement. except in the study of stress. 1997. especially child psychopathology. 2001). it has not yet been included in POB. and motivation to be effective in the environment. autonomy.’ I am suggesting today’s leaders and employees ‘by taking’ today’s stressful. 1996) and. Once again there are many different definitions. The challenge for POB is to better understand resilience and then in a positive way unleash its considerable potential. being state-like and thus open to development. As Masten (2001) noted. J. 2000).. but accurate terms. Early on. 1998. all of which could be learned and developed in leadership and human resource programmes such as are currently being done in building efficacy (Bandura. This capability changes over time and is enhanced by protective factors in the individual and environment’ (Stewart. p. with the considerable evidence (e. resiliency is the positive psychological capacity to rebound. special gift that only a few people possessed. Hunter & Chandler. dramatically changing environment through the positive psychological capacity of resilience. Block & Kreman. Reid & Mangham. However. this resiliency capacity is no longer felt to be that rare in people. Like confidence and hope. to ‘bounce back’ from adversity. Like the other positive psychological capacities. For example. To my knowledge.g. 2000) and emotional intelligence (Goleman.g. and considerable research evidence of the Copyright # 2002 John Wiley & Sons. which has direct impli- cations.. see Doe. but does seem to include resources found in basic human adaptational systems (e. seems to be more closely aligned than the other POB capacities to the father of the study of stress Hans Selye’s astute observation that. Resilience goes beyond simple adaptation. but does not include the agency dimension of hope. 22). Thus. and valid measurement (Block & Block. ‘it is not what happens to you that matters. Masten. 235). Organiz. there have been only a few surface attempts (largely at the organizational level) to directly apply resiliency to the workplace (e. 23. to date. 1994.

g. Probably the key difference to what I am proposing and other positive approaches in OB is the state-like requirement that lends itself to leadership and employee development and performance management. The application to the workplace requirement separates a positive approach to OB from more basic positive psychology per se. For the future. Behav. I would also argue.. approach to formulating and answering research questions. and currently are being empirically analysed in workplace settings (e. 2002. 1998.. and there is plenty of evidence in panel discussions on the status of OB at conferences such as the Academy of Management and SIOP. identifica- tion of moderators. Where Do We Go from Here Organizational behavior has certainly not been as negatively oriented as psychology. POSITIVE ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR 703 strong relationship between resiliency and the ability to function effectively in a broad range of life experiences (see Coutu. At this moment in time in our history. We have been more concerned with what is wrong with organizations. 695–706 (2002) . this can. 2002) and other applications such as cross-culturally. as long as they are based on sound the- ory. and can be effectively applied to the workplace. We are also drawing from Gallup’s extensive Copyright # 2002 John Wiley & Sons. and application for leader effectiveness and employee performance improve- ment. I would argue our field in its problem solving orientation. Peterson & Luthans. the carry-over to the workplace seems assured. Organiz. leaders and employees than what is right with them.. I made the case for confidence. if not most. 2002. 2003). rather than catching them doing something wrong to punish them’ in my writing. organizational behavior concepts that are certainly posi- tively oriented. and human resource development (Luthans & Jensen. I have personally been advocating ‘catch employees doing something right to reinforce them. Examples would include positive reinforcement and positive emotions. measurement. and already is. & Quinn. to follow my own mandate.g. expectancies. J. 23. and theory development that combines positivity into core leadership or motivation concepts. Judge et al. hope and resiliency as meeting my inclusion criteria for POB. We have recently completed such a theory-based paper (Stajkovic & Luthans. teams. talks and consulting work for over 30 years. Judge & Bono. the Michigan group—Cameron. Ltd. For example. taking a number of different forms. both in the overall environment and in the academic discipline of organizational behavior. similar to psychology. This imposed requirement of theory and research takes advantage of the strength of the OB field and separates us from the popular ‘feel good’ books and positive approaches with no really meaningful or sustainable knowledge and application. However. Dutton. there is need to examine the relative strengths of positive capacities. I have also included optimism and emotional intelligence.. 2002). and general overall perspective is more negative than positive. and in sub- sequent work I hope to add to the list. For example. The POB concepts need to be. but also uniqueness. The platform for positive organizational behavior (POB) that I have drawn from my recent articles and presented here sets down the criteria not only of positivity. and affect. supported by sophisticated research. that there is a need for new core concepts and approaches. open to development.g. 2002a). in entrepreneurship (Jensen & Luthans. 2001) or at a more macro level of analysis (e. Others starting to take a positive approach in the OB field are either working more at the trait-like positive personality level of analysis (e. unpublished paper). There are many. Obviously. there is need for considerably more theory-building and research. I feel we can learn much and follow the lead of the positive psychology movement. unpub- lished paper) containing propositions that are being tested by second-order confirmatory factor analy- sis using a co-variance structure analysis. I applaud different positive approaches and the more positive concepts the better. In my previous articles.

but also in life. and the author of numerous books. 41. The role of ego-control and ego-resiliency in the organization of behavior. (1982).. Fostering resiliency in kids: Protective factors in the family. inaugural member of the Academy’s Hall of Fame.). NJ: Prentice-Hall. A. & C. Bandura. Currently. 1–26. K. (2002). M. R.. Barrick. and co-editor of Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies. Englewood Cliffs. B. K. H..704 F. (1981). His book Organizational Behavior is now in its ninth edition and International Management is in its 5th edition. R. Educational Leadership. C. M. On the arbitrary distinction between states and traits. (1991). C. especially post-11 September. & Kremen. school.). self-efficacy and now positive organizational behavior theory. In R. break all the rules. B. his studies include reinforcement theory and application. M. Sigman. Ltd. (1980). A. 916–928. (1993). J. Behav. (1996). he is a Senior Research Scientist for Gallup Inc. New York: Simon & Schuster. I believe we need a positive search for and understanding of the good in people. he has been active in the management field for over 35 years. Hope in the workplace. B. C.. Positive organizational behavior seems a step in the direc- tion of not only new and exciting things to study and apply. Benard. Psychology is not destiny: Social scientist swims against the tide of negativity: Campus Report. J. A. & Mount... Rand. Author biography Fred Luthans is University Professor and the George Holmes Distinguished Professor of Manage- ment at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. (1991). Buckingham. Bandura. the Decision Sciences Institute. (1999). V. and the Pan Pacific Business Association. 37. NJ: Erlbaum. The big five personality dimensions and job performance: a meta-analysis. Cultivate self-efficacy for personal and organizational effectiveness. & Pulvers. References Adams. 51. he is co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of World Busi- ness. First. IQ and ego-resiliency: conceptual and empirical connections and separateness. In addition to his university position. Organiz. Stanford. 695–706 (2002) . Self-efficacy mechanism in human agency. Workplace spirituality and organization performance. 44. The Blackwell handbook of principles of organizational behavior. Allen. 349–361. but also the right way to move our field ahead in these unprecedented times in which we work and live. & Coffman. editor of Organizational Dynamics. 44–48. M. Locke (Ed. In W. Personnel Psychology. 70. Jurkiewicz (Eds. Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. Benard. LUTHANS data-bases for empirical analyses of the POB concepts. A. J. Block. M. and does consulting and training locally. D. (1997). Snyder.). King. winner of the Academy’s Distinguished Educator Award in 1997. Bandura. Portland. UK: Blackwell. L. not only at work. OR: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. Giacolone. (2002). 120–136. E. Social foundations of thought and action. Minnesota symposium of child psychology. and internationally. R. and Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Iowa. He has been involved with a number of basic research streams over the years. Oxford. A. (1986). CA: Stanford University. (in press). K. Bandura. In E. 23. A. New York: Sharpe.. Hillsdale. In particular. American Psychologist. A past president of the Academy of Management. both published by McGraw-Hill/Irwin. and community. nationally. New York: Freeman. A.. Block. He is one of a very few management scholars who is a Fellow of the Academy of Management. (2000). H. A. Copyright # 2002 John Wiley & Sons. & Block. R... 122–147. & Potkay. research and applications. A. J. Collins (Ed. in addition to theory and research. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Bandura. 39–101. P. Fostering resiliency in kids. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Finally.

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