Positive organizational behavior

Published on July 1, 2012 Reviewed on September 27, 2018   48 min

A selection of talks on Management, Leadership & Organisation

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Hello, my name is Suzanne Peterson. I'm Professor of Management at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. This talk focuses on 'Positive Organizational Behavior' or simply, POB. Although the value of positivity at work is certainly been assumed over the years, only recently has it become a major area of focus for theory building, research, and practice. Specifically, the talk today will not only define POB in more specific terms and differentiate it from other areas of positivity, but it also seeks to increase one's appreciation for the value of positivity at work.
So what is positive organizational behavior or POB? Well, the formal definition is: 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.
Let's translate the formal definition. As I said, POB refers to a set of psychological capacities that must meet some specific criteria. First, the capacities must be positive, for example, POB would be concerned with the study of optimism rather than pessimism, and would also be concerned with the study of eustress rather than stress. Second, the capacities must be theory- and research-based and validly measurable. What that means is, all the POB capacities must have a rich theoretical foundation, have years of research (empirical and conceptual) done on them and have measurement tools designed to assess them. These tools must have gone through validity testing, so that they can be used in study after study to be able to measure the POB capacities. Third, the POB capacities must be state-like or open to change and development. What that means is, instead of being trait-like or more fixed attributes that people might be born with or have developed at an early age. The POB capacities are psychological states, meaning they can change. One day you might feel or perceive the world one way and the next day you might feel or perceive it differently. That makes them open to change, development and training, because they're not fixed stable attributes. Finally, the POB capacities must have performance impact. From a POB perspective, this study is only concerned with those capacities that have the ability to potentially impact the performance at work.