University of Tasmania
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New directions in Psychological Capital research: A critical analysis and theoretical and empirical extensions to individual- and team-level measurement.

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posted on 2023-05-27, 00:51 authored by Dawkins, SL
Background: The construct of Psychological Capital (PsyCap) encapsulates an individual's state of psychological development comprised of the resources of hope, self-efficacy, resilience and optimism (Luthans, Youssef & Avolio, 2007). Research accumulated over the past decade has demonstrated that PsyCap is positively related to a variety of desirable job attitudes and behaviors, and negatively related to undesirable organizational outcomes. However, the literature is currently bereft of critical and systematic analysis of the construct in terms of its theoretical and psychometric foundations at both the individual- and team-levels of analysis. Aims: This thesis aimed to critically assess the theoretical and psychometric foundations of the PsyCap construct. Additionally, it investigated the added utility of an alternative factor model of PsyCap in relation to criterion variables at the individual-level. The thesis also sought to review and extend current conceptualizations and measurement approaches of PsyCap at higher-levels of analysis (i.e. team-level). Finally, it aimed to compare the relationships between measures using different operationalizations of collective PsyCap and outcomes at the individual- and team-level. Methods: A systematic review of extant literature was used to provide a comprehensive critical analysis of the PsyCap construct in terms of its theoretical and psychometric properties (Chapter 3). The first empirical study of 193 owner/managers of small-medium-enterprises examined the criterion validity of a four-factor model of PsyCap (compared with the higher-order factor model recommended in prior research) in relation to job satisfaction and job tension(Chapter 4). A theoretical analysis and development approach was employed to expand the conceptual framework for collective versions of the PsyCap construct (Chapter 5). A second empirical study of 193 employees from a cross-section of industries tested a multilevel model comparing observed relationships between different approaches to operationalizing team PsyCap and indicators of employee and work team performance and functioning (Chapter 6). Results: The systematic review revealed several theoretical and psychometric shortcomings pertaining to the PsyCap construct. Consequently, six directives are proposed as part of an integrated research agenda aimed at strengthening the conceptualization and measurement of the construct (Chapter 3). A four-factor model of PsyCap provided greater criterion validity in relation to outcome variables at the individual-level than a second-order model, whereby the components of PsyCap were merged into a single factor. A four-factor model also provided greater insight into the differential effects of PsyCap components on job satisfaction and job tension (Chapter 4). Analysis of collective PsyCap research revealed that studies are divergent in their conceptualization and measurement of team-level PsyCap and relatively void of a supporting theoretical model (Chapter 5). This analysis resulted in the development of a multilevel-multireferent framework for conceptualizing different forms of collective PsyCap and a set of eleven testable research propositions to guide future research. Finally, multilevel analyses comparing different compositional models of aggregation to represent team-level PsyCap demonstrated stronger associations between team PsyCap and individual- and team-level outcomes when a referent-shift operationalization of team PsyCap was employed (Chapter 6).Conclusions: PsyCap has been purported as a measurable and developable positive organizational behavior construct which impacts employee and team functioning. However, review of the construct highlighted critical opportunities for theoretical refinement and psychometric development in order to enhance its utility in the workplace. This critique guided the key contributions of this thesis, fostering greater alignment between theory, conceptualization and operationalization of PsyCap, including expansion to a multilevel approach. This contribution also has implications for the development of training interventions aimed at bolstering team PsyCap. These interventions may not only enhance team performance and functioning, but also individual employee functioning and well-being.


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