Fred Luthans is a University Professor and the George Holmes Distinguished Professor of Management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is a psychologist whose scientific interests include the positive psychology movement and positive organizational behavior. He has introduced multiple articles on this topic, and “The Need for and Meaning of Positive Organizational Behavior” is one of them. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to present the review of this article and personal reflections in this regard.
The Main Aim of the Article
Fred Luthans is a representative of the first generation of organizational behavior explorations. The author is significantly influenced by the ideas of the positive psychology movement. Thus, he formulates the aim of his article “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” (Luthans, 2002, p. 696). Moreover, the researcher attempts to present a scheme of how to implement these theories into the workplace.
The Positive Psychology Movement
In this section, in order to explain the core ideas of the positive psychology movement, Fred Luthans presents the reflections on positive psychology of other researchers in this field; namely, he mentions Seligman. Seligman is a phycologist and the major proselytizer of this approach in present-day developments. As the majority of psychologists, he used to focus on exploring the difficulties people encounter, their weaknesses, and other problems. The situation, which contributed to changing his perspective, was his daughter highlighting his constant complaints in her regard. Seligman’s insight refers to a behavioral pattern, which is widespread among adults.
They tend to correct the issues, which are considered wrong from their perspective, instead of focusing on the strengths of their offsprings. Therefore, applying this illustrative example, which is extremely convincing, the concept of positive psychology may be explained. It implies the change of the focus from people’s weaknesses to their advantages and prominent traits of character.
Positive Organizational Behavior
The topic of positive organizational behavior (POB) is covered in multiple articles of the author. He has elaborated the definition for it: “the study and application of positively oriented human resource strengths and psychological capacities that can be measured, developed, and effectively managed for performance improvement in today’s workplace” (Luthans, 2002, p. 698). The researcher established the criteria for POB: measurability, being open to development, and efficiency. The mentioned indicators refer to the core concepts, and the author highlights the new one, namely the unique character of POB regarding the OB sphere.
Fred Luthans determines the physical capabilities, which are connected with the early described criteria. They are “confidence (or self-efficacy), hope, optimism, subjective well-being (or happiness), and emotional intelligence” (Luthans, 2002, p. 699). The most influential in this context is confidence, while hope is highly likely to be resultative. Moreover, the author highlights resiliency, though it is not included in the widespread criteria.
As it has been mentioned above, confidence or self-efficacy is considered to be an impactful element. The reason for this judgment is the fact that an individual obtains conviction about his or her skills and knowledge, which provides motivation and stimulates cognitive resources. These factors are essential to achieve success in the context of performing work tasks. Furthermore, it contributes to accepting a challenge, increases the enthusiasm to accomplish a duty, and stimulates a persistent attitude. It also has a beneficial influence on goal setting and job satisfaction. In addition, Fred Luthans claims that this quality can be developed in the workplace, and there are numerous studies in this regard.
He refers to other researchers in order to present the most complex and resultative technic. He concludes that important steps are performance achievements, vicarious studying, positive perseverance, and arousal in the context of physiology and psychology. Although these elements may sound obvious, their significance should not be underestimated, especially in complexity.
Hope is an element, which is considered to be the most unique of all. It can be described in the following way: “a cognitive set that is based on a reciprocally derived sense of successful:
- agency (goal-directed determination);
- pathways (planning of ways to meet goals)” (as cited in Luthans, 2002, p. 701).
Therefore, this quality has two sides, which are willpower and way power, and this fact makes hope a positive psychological capacity. The latter has similarities with efficacy expectancies and the way power is connected with their outcomes. It is crucial to differentiate hope and optimism; the second quality is formed via the influence of other people and directed to the external world, while the first one refers to the inner world. Hope is proved to have a beneficial impact on performance in various fields, including academic, sport, and career achievements (Luthans, 2002). In addition, it is characterized by uniqueness, as it is connected with personal aim expectancies and perceived control.
Resilience is a quality, which is not commonly associated with POB, and the author is determined to advance it as a new element. First of all, Fred Luthans introduces the definition of this term: “the capability of individuals to cope successfully in the face of significant change, adversity, or risk” (Luthans, 2002, p. 702).
This quality helps people to overcome ordeals and respond to challenges connected with their professional activity. It is important to differentiate this term from self-efficiency, as resiliency is more reactive than proactive. It can also be mistaken for hope, though resiliency does not involve the agency dimension. From the researcher’s perspective, this quality may be included in POB. It matches all the criteria: measurability, being open to development, and efficiency in the context of performance at the workplace. Fred Luthans also refers to other scientists in this field and highlights the beneficial influence of resiliency on the performance of individuals.
The article changed my perception of POB and raised the interest in this topic. The publication contains a significant number of in-depth and important insights. The first one implies the changing of focus from negativity to positivity regarding the traits of characters. Predominantly, people concentrate on their drawbacks, which delay their professional development. Such reflection is important, though regular work on personal advantages is no less beneficial for the working performance. In this regard, POB may supply the correct direction of development. Moreover, it may advise the qualities, which are vital for a successful career of every person but are not connected with professional activity directly. Furthermore, this concept may help in the process of studying.
Luthans, F. (2002). The need for and meaning of positive organizational behavior. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23(6), 695–706. Web.