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Positive Psychology & Management Thinking

Early management thinkers, initially tended to examine the challenges of management from the perspective of economics or sociology. It was only decades later that the focus began to shift to the individual employee.

Enter the positive psychology movement in the 1950's. Even though the term itself was coined by Abraham Maslow, it was Martin Seligman who is widely regarded as the "father" of the discipline.

Seligman found that the most satisfied and positively inclined people were those who had discovered and exploited their unique combination of “signature strengths,” such as humanity, temperance and persistence. He concluded that happiness has three dimensions: the Pleasant Life, the Good Life, and the Meaningful Life.

Two important concepts when looking at psychological influences at the indivdual level are those of the psychological contract and psychological capital. The first places the focus on attitudes and behavior of individuals in organizations based on the norm of reciprocity, equity and exchange. The second looks at how to build the foundations of positive psychological capital though enhancing its key dimensions:





Subsequent research has been exploring these dimensions of performance, as they are critical to creating and sustaining employee engagement. This is because they allow us to examine the relationship between management practices and employee performance at different levels of analysis - in addition to those which are more "macro" or "meso" in nature (such as the Resource-based View of the Firm, or Porter's Environmental Fit theory).


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