Globalisation and overseas ventures have made today’s workplace boundarlyless where no one works in isolation (Friedman, 2005). In fact today’s work environment is characterised as volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous owing to the changes in the economic policies, 24X7 working hours, heightened competition, and changing customers’ needs (Bennett, & Lemoine, 2014). Added to this, unhindered access to information and never ending advancement in technology has made the organisations vulnerable to duplicacy of the products and services (Avey, 2007; Luthans, 2006). To sustain and survive in such environment organisations need to respond and react proactively to these changes.
Till few decades back organizations have managed environmental challenges through a problem focused or deficit-based strategy (Barney, 2001; Drucker, 1995). Deficit-based strategy is aimed at specific problems such as coping mechanism to handle workplace demands (Folkman, 2011, 2013; Lazurus & Folkman, 1984). But, deficit-based approach has been criticized for its short-term orientation (Bennett & Lemoine, 2014; Youssef & Luthans, 2012). They are problem specific, not generic, and not applicable to other problems. In dynamic environment where problems are unexpected and unknown organizations cannot afford to have short-term orientation towards it. A more generic and long-term orientation is required. Strength-based approach is one such strategy that has long term-orientation towards problem (Bennett & Lemoine, 2014). According to the strength-based approach every individual or organization has untapped resources and strengths that can be utilized to resolve hurdles and complex situations (Green & Haines, 2008). In the strength-based approach focus is shifted to “what’s right with us” from “what’s wrong with us” (Donaldson & Ko, 2010; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). That is in strength-based approach more emphasis is given to the positive strengths and resources that make employees agile and capable even in adverse situations. Further, broaden-build theory of positive emotion posits the same that strengths and positive feelings culminate into a repository of personal resources, which become the source of energy for varied positive actions and behaviors of individuals (Fredrickson, 2009; Hobfoll, 2002). Gallup Inc. in a survey on the influence of employees’ strengths on the performance and the productivity found that employees who utilize their strengths every day are six times more productive and efficient on their job than others (Sorenson, 2014). The statistics of the survey also states that employees are 7.8% more productive when they employ their strengths and the teams which give importance to the strengths everyday witness 12.5% greater productivity (Sorenson, 2014).The survey concludes that developing and focusing on employees’ strengths is a far more effective approach to performance improvement than to improve or fix the weaknesses.
However, despite such belief, strength-based approach has gained little attention and scholars started acknowledging it only in the last decade with the emergence of positive psychology movement (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000, 2014). Scholars of positive psychology opined that positive resources have received little attention compare to the problems and pathologies of employees (Avey, 2007; Wright, 2003). The reason for more attention to problems and pathologies could be that problems draw greater attention as it is more threating in nature and has adverse direct effects on employees and organization (Avey, 2007; Fredrickson, 2009; Wright, 2003). Another reason for less attention to positive strengths and resources could be that influence of positive strengths and resources are considered as a more common sense approach and there is a lack of empirical studies on positive strengths and resources (Avey et al., 2011; Luthans et al., 2007). Focus on the underdetermined and less researched strengths and resources of employees will be more beneficial to workplace as it will not only lead to improvement in work performance but will also enhance the overall well-being of the employees (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000, 2014; Luthans, Avolio, Avey, & Norman, 2007).
PsyCap is one of the construct which is deployed as a strength-based approach to the workplace problems (Bennett & Lemoine, 2014; Luthans, et al., 2007; Story et al., 2013). A workforce who is high on Psychological Capital (PsyCap) is considered as positive, confident, optimistic, hopeful, and resilient to the workplace challenges (Avey, Avolio, Crossley, & Luthans, 2009; Sweetman & Luthans, 2010). PsyCap has been conceptualised to understand the inner source of energy during adversities (Seligman, M. E., & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). PsyCap is a higher order construct developed after combining four positive psychological strengths and resources of individuals, viz, self-efficacy, hope, optimism, and resilience. Past studies have reported that promoting and managing the PsyCap level of employees lead to several workplace benefits such as employee engagement, organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and positive emotions (Gupta, Shaheen, & Reddy, 2017; Shaheen, Zeba, & Mohanty, 2017).
In an integrative literature review on PsyCap Newman, Ucbasaran, Zhu, and Hirst (2014) suggested that research on PsyCap is still in the nascent stage and yet to mature. To acknowledge and make the workplace benefited through employees’ strengths and positive resources suggested that empirical research that explains the positive influence of PsyCap on workplace outcomes will be of great contribution to the field of organizational behavior.
Next, work performance is found to be the most researched outcome of PsyCap across different cultures and contexts (Avey et al., 2011). It could be because work performance is one the desired bottom-line result of every organization irrespective of its size and the industry in which it is functioning (Combs, Liu, Hall, & Ketchen, 2006). An organization can sustain and survive only when their employees are involved in activities that lead to higher level of work performance. For the same reason work performance is considered as the underlying component of HRD. Though being the most researched outcome, scant literature are available that have explored the path or the underlying mechanism by which PsyCap has positive influence on work performance.
Further, work performance is mostly concluded as a unidimensional construct and is measured either objectively or through supervisor rating in the PsyCap literature (Avey et al., 2011; Madrid, Diaz, Leka, Leiva & Barros, 2017). Whereas, past empirical studies confirmed work performance as a multi-dimensional construct comprised of two types of work behaviors — in-role behavior and extra-role behavior (Hsu, Shih, & Li, 2017; MacKenzie, Podsakoff & Ahearne, 1998; Shaheen, Gupta, & Kumar, 2016; Williams & Anderson, 1991). Employees generally complete their work through certain work activities and these are categorised by William and Anderson (1991) as in-role and extra-role work behaviors. Limiting work performance to the prescribed in-role duties restrict the holistic picture of overall work performance.
To fulfil the unexpected demands and needs of the diversified market in today’s competitive market, organizations expect their employees to display both in-role and the extra-role work performance (Grant, 2012; Hsu et al., 2017; Shaheen et al., 2016). That is apart from in-role work behaviors employees’ are expected to go beyond their job and involve in extra-role behaviors to meet the demand of this ‘flat’ and turbulent world (Oplatka, 2009; Shaheen et al., 2016). Hence, it is argued that work performance should be treated as multi-dimensional construct Considering work-performance as a multi-dimensional construct will not only add a new perspective to the definition of work performance in PsyCap literature but will also facilitate exploration of the positive impact of PsyCap on both in-role and extra-role work behaviors simultaneously.
Based on the above discussion the purpose of the present study is two-folds. First is to provide an empirical evidence of strength-based approach by exploring the positive impact of PsyCap on two types of work performance behaviors. Second is to investigate and the path or mechanism by which PsyCap influences the two work behaviors. It is proposed that intrinsic motivation and goal-commitment will mediate the influence of PsyCap on work performance behaviors.
The theoretical foundation of PsyCap states that employees’ who are high on PsyCap are high on all the dimensions of PsyCap that is on self-efficacy, optimism, hope, and resilience (Luthans, Youssef, & Avolio, 2007). Evidences from the extensive research on social cognitive theory of Bandura (1998) state that the belief in one’s ability (i.e., self-efficacy) keeps employees internally motivated towards their task (Stajkovic & Luthans, 1998). Similarly, hope, through its impact of interaction effect of agency and pathways, act as a source of energy and provides contingency plan to the employees that keep them dedicated and committed towards goal (Synder at al., 1996). In the similar way optimist attribute positive things to the situation that keeps them confident and motivated even in adverse situation (Scheier & Carver, 1985). Resiliency provides bouncing back ability towards goal with renewed energy and this renewed focused energy keep employees focused and committed to goals (Masten & Reed, 2002). Thus, based on the theory behind PsyCap it can be said that PsyCap as a resource keeps employees intrinsically motivated and committed towards goal. This intrinsic motivation and goal-commitment in turn might lead to a significant impact on work performance behaviors.
In the following section, first the past literature related to PsyCap, work performance behaviors, intrinsic motivation, and goal-commitment are reviewed which is followed by hypotheses development and the research methodology used to conduct this study. Results and findings are discussed next. The theoretical and managerial contributions are further described and the paper concludes with limitation and future research directions.