Jakari Griffith has conducted extensive studies on the importance of positive states of human mind in employee development. He is currently serving as the Assistant Professor at Bridgewater State University and the Adjunct Professor at Salem State College and is much admired by his students for his real world approach to classroom instruction.
As organizations seek to improve competitive advantage and promote high performance work practices, the human capital component of the productivity equation is receiving increasing recognition (Bowen & Ostroff, 2004; Cavanaugh& Noe, 1999; Delaney & Huselid, 1996; Ling & Jaw, 2006; Ulrich, 1997). Both ac- ademics and practitioners now emphasize the “human equation” for compet- itive advantage (Pfeffer, 1998). Shrinking workforces due to downsizing, out- sourcing, and other cost cutting measures have had profound consequences for organizational human capital capacity. Wright, Dunford, and Snell (2001) sug- gest that organizational proitability and competitive advantage can be sustained only through enhancing product quality and increasing employee productivity. To maximize employee performance, training and development programs are the primary methods that organizations use to build organizational human capital capabilities (Holton, Coco, Lowe, & Dutsch, 2006). Training magazine (2006) re- cently estimated that US organizations budgeted US $56 billion on employee ed- ucation and learning programs.
Organizations use employee education programs to improve general and spe- ciic human capital compatibilities, to direct employee performance, and to in- luence employee engagement (Holton et al., 2006; Narayan, Steele-Johnson, Del- gado & Cole, 2007). Successful education programs have goals that align with organizational strategy; this alignment is intended to create mutuality between employee work related behaviors and employer short and long term goals (Le Deist & Winterton, 2005). However, there are mixed opinions regarding the ef- fectiveness of these programs (Kontoghiorghes, 2001). In spite of the large expen- diture of inancial and other resources, employee educational interventions often fall short of providing the fall beneits for which they were intended (Cromwell & Kolb, 2004). Consequently, organizations are continually looking for innovative methods not only for delivering education and learning programs but also for ensuring the effectiveness of these programs in creating and enhancing human capital capabilities, and positively impacting job performance (Fumya, Stevens, Oddou, Bird, & Mendenhall, 2007).
Basically, employee development initiatives focus on the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) necessary to produce peak performance outcomes. Traditionally, targeted KSAs relect explicit skill sets that are visibly 74 Co M B s , Lu T h a N s , & GR I F F I T h I N The Peak Perf Orming Organiza Ti On ( 2009 ) connected to task performance. However, research continues to stress that the ef- fectiveness of employee learning and development programs can be greatly im- pacted by parameters other than the development programs themselves (Combs& Luthans, 2007).
Important to the effective development of employees are two primary com- ponents —learning motivation and the transfer of learning to the work setting (Hawley & Barnard, 2005; Holton, Chen & Naquin, 2003; Noe, 1986). Colquitt, LePine and Noe (2000) deine learning motivation as “the direction, intensity, and persistence of learning-directed behavior in training [learning] contexts” (p. 678). Through meta-analysis of research on learning motivation they recognized the importance of examining learning motivation and learning transfer by focusing on particular individual characteristics as powerful inluencers on learning/edu- cation program success. Learning transfer may be deined as the effective appli- cation of knowledge, skills, abilities, attitudes, and behaviors that are acquired in learning/educational programs back to the work setting (Cromwell & Kolb, 2004; Holton & Baldwin, 2003). Jakari Griffith
In this chapter, we propose that the recently emerging core construct of psy-
chological capital (Luthans, Avolio, Avey, & Norman, 2007; Luthans, Youssef,
& Avolio, 2007) may positively inluence individual learning motivation (e.g., human capital development) and transfer of learning to the job (e.g., employee performance). Speciically, Fold, Quinones, Sego, and Sorra (1992) suggest that trainee characteristics inluence the motivation to perform and the effort that may be expended to perform well. Considerable research has centered on the cogni- tive processes that impact motivation for learning and the ability to use the learn- ing acquired (Baldwin & Ford, 1988; Cromwell & Kolb, 2004; Holton et al., 2003; Machin & Fogarty, 2003). Goldstein and Ford (2002) suggest that more attention be given to individual psychological processes that can have positive inluence on prelearning outcomes (learning motivation) and post-learning performance (learning transfer). Here we use PsyCap to represent the psychological processes. PsyCap, made up of hope, eficacy, optimism, and resiliency, can be used to rep- resent internal factors of individuals that forge positive perceptions of their hu- man capital strengths (e.g., see Cameron, Dutton, & Quinn, 2003; Luthans, 2002a, 2002b, 2003; Nelson & Cooper, 2007). These positive psychological strengths al- low employees to reduce concentration on what is wrong and what cannot be done and to maximize effectiveness to maintain pursuit of productive perfor- mance outcomes.
We will irst provide the theoretical background for PsyCap, briely summa- rize how PsyCap is being measured and developed, then discuss the theory and research indings regarding learning motivation and transfer of training, and i- nally we will propose the application of PsyCap to enhance learning motivation and learning transfer.
Theoretical basis for PsyCap and associated constructs
Psychological capital (PsyCap) is an outgrowth of the positive approach to or- ganizational behavior (Cameron et al., 2003; Luthans, 2002a, 2002b; Luthans & erts, 2006; Turner, Barling & Zacharatos, 2002; Wright, 2003), which in turn is rooted in the positive psychology movement that focuses on human psycholog- ical strengths and the positive aspects of human functioning (Petersen & Selig- man, 2004; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000; Snyder & Lopez, 2002). Specii- cally, positive organizational behavior (POB) involves, “the study and application of positive oriented human resource strengths and psychological capacities that can be measured, developed, and effectively managed for performance improve- ment in today’s workplace” (Luthans, 2002b, p. 59). Following this deinition, to be included in POB, a positive psychological resource must be theory and re- search based, have valid measurement, be “state-like,” rather than “trait-like,” be open to development through intervention, and inally have performance impact (Luthans, 2002a, 2002b; Luthans, Youssef, & Avolio, 2007).
The psychological resources that were determined to best meet the POB crite- ria so far include eficacy, optimism, hope, and resiliency, and when combined, have been termed psychological capital or simple PsyCap (Luthans & Youssef, 2004; Luthans, Youssef, & Avolio, 2007). PsyCap is deined as
an individual’s positive psychological state of development that is char- acterized by: (1) having conidence (self-eficacy) to take on and put in the necessary effort to succeed at challenging tasks; (2) making a pos- itive attribution (optimism) about succeeding now and in the future;
(3) persevering toward goals and when necessary, redirecting paths to goals (hope) in order to succeed; and (4) when beset by problems and adversity, sustaining and bouncing back and even beyond (resiliency) to attain success.
(Luthans, Youssef, & Avolio, 2007, p. 3).
The underlying common agentic capacity running through the four compo- nents of PsyCap is the “positive appraisal of circumstances and probability for success based on motivated effort and perseverance” (Luthans, Avolio, et al., 2007, p. 550). There is both conceptual (Luthans, Youssef, & Avolio, 2007) and empirical (Luthans, Avolio, et al., 2007) support for PsyCap as a second order, core construct. We will next provide a brief overview of each of the four compo- nents of PsyCap, the PsyCap measurement instrument, and the PsyCap develop- mental intervention model.