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Engaged employees work vigorously, feeling dedicated and mentally absorbed in their work. Much is known about the kinds of jobs and work environments that stimulate employee engagement, yet levels of disengagement remain high in many organizations. To provide fresh insights into how to increase engagement, we draw on theory and research in social, educational, and organizational psychology to illuminate how mindsets are a personal resource that may influence employees' engagement via their enthusiasm for development, construal of effort, focus of attention, perception of setbacks, and interpersonal interactions. We outline several avenues for future research, as well as practical implications for organizational, managerial, and individual-level initiatives for increasing engagement via supporting employees in adopting and sustaining a growth mindset with regard to the challenges they encounter at work.
The potential role of mindsets in unleashing employee
Lauren A. Keating ,PeterA.Heslin
UNSW Business School, UNSW Australia
article info abstract
Engaged employees work vigorously, feeling dedicated and mentally absorbed in their work.
Much is knownabout the kinds of jobs and work environments thatstimulate employee engage-
ment, yet levels of disengagement remain high in many organizations. To provide fresh insights
into how to increase engagement, we draw on theory and research in social, educational, and
organizational psychology to illuminate how mindsets are a personal resource that may inuence
employees' engagement via their enthusiasm for development, construal of effort, focus of atten-
tion, perception of setbacks, and interpersonal interactions. We outline several avenues for future
research, as well as practical implications for organizational, managerial, and individual-level
initiatives for increasing engagement via supporting employees in adopting and sustaining a
growth mindset with regard to the challenges they encounter at work.
© 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Employee engagement
Personal resources
Implicit theories
Cultures of genius
(No) company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees That is why you need to (be concerned
with) levels of employee engagement.
[- Welch and Welch (2006, p. 126)]
1. Introduction
According to Gallup's, 2013 142-country study on the State of the Global Workplace, only 13% of employees worldwide report that they
are engaged at work. In contrast, 63% of employees are not engaged and another 24% are actively disengaged. While some (e.g., Zenger,
2013) question the massive prevalence of disengagement reported by Gallup, given that engaged employees are a key ingredient for a
productive workforce (Christian, Garza, & Slaughter, 2011; Harter, Schmidt, & Hayes, 2002), fresh avenues for understanding and
increasing engagement are a topic of enduring interest to human resource management scholars and practitioners alike.
Engagement is a fullling psychological state characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption in one's work
(Macey &
Schneider, 2008; Schaufeli et al., 2002). When employees are engaged, they experience their work as something to which they really
Human Resource Management Review 25 (2015) 329341
Manuscript developed by Lauren A. Keating and Peter A. Heslin, UNSW Business School, UNSW Australia.
Corresponding author at: UNSW Business School, UNSW Australia, Sydney NSW 2052, Australia. Tel.: +61 413098486.
E-mail address: (L.A. Keating).
Engagement has also beenconceptualized asboth a trait and a behavior (Macey & Schneider, 2008).Given that state engagement is thoughtto precede behavioral
engagement (Macey & Schneider, 2008) and can better explain within-person uctuations in engagement than a dispositional approach (Dalal, Brummel, Wee, &
Thomas, 2008), numerous leading scholars (Grifn, Parker, & Neal, 2008; Harter & Schmidt, 2008; Macey & Schneider, 2008; Schaufeli, Salanova, González-Romá, &
Bakker, 2002) have argued that engagement is most usefully and appropriately conceptualized as a state. This paper thus focuses on the potential role of mindsets
in state engagement.
1053-4822/© 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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want to devote time and vigorous effort; as a signicant and meaningful pursuit to which they feel genuinely dedicated; and as
sufciently absorbing to concentrate their full attention. Engaged employees harness themselves to what they are doing by fully
investing their heads, hearts, and hands in performing their role (Rich, Lepine, & Crawford, 2010).
In his pioneering statement about the nature of engagement, Kahn (1990) suggested that people are emotionally and cognitively
engaged when they know what is expected of them, have what they need to do their work, have opportunities to feel an impact and
fulllment in their work, perceive that they are part of something signicant with coworkers whom they trust, and have chances to
improve and develop themselves andothers. Disengagedemployees just go through the motions. Uninspired role performancesresult
from individuals withholding their full effort, attention, and emotional investment in their work. Distractions reduce mental and
behavioral focus. By acting in a perfunctory manner, people's true identities, thoughts, and feelings are not manifest in their work.
Emotional connections with others (e.g., customers, clients, colleagues) are diluted or severed in the process (Kahn, 1990). Alterna-
tively, when employees are engaged, resulting motivation, proactivity, and empathy manifest through both in-role and extra-role
performance (Salanova & Schaufeli, 2008)can yield improvements in learning, prots, sales, customer ratings, accidents, and
turnover (Christian et al., 2011; Harter et al., 2002; Salanova, Agut, & Peiró, 2005).
Following the seminal work of Kahn (1990) and Schaufeli et al. (2002), a substantial literature has evolved regarding the antecedents
of engagement. To complement this literature, this paper aims to explain how employees' engagement may also depend upon their
mindsets about the plasticity of the abilities required for the task at hand (Dweck, 1986, 1999, 2006).
We begin by briey reviewing the hallmarks and antecedents of employee engagement, beforeoutlining the nature and sources of
mindsets. Next we illuminate how employees' mindsets may affect whether they approach their work with energy and focus that
signies engagement, or with the ambivalence, anxiety, and risk avoidance indicative of disengagement (Kahn, 1990). We then
suggest a range of avenues for future research regarding how mindsets may interact with other antecedents of engagement. We
conclude by responding to the call by leading human resource management scholars (e.g., Cascio, 2008; Latham, 2012; Rynes,
Giluk, & Brown, 2007) for concrete statements about precisely how basic research ndings might be applied to address important
practical challenges within the workplace. Specically, we show how organizations, managers, and employees can foster the type
of mindset that likely facilitates employee engagement.
2. Hallmarks of employee engagement
Grounded theorizing by Kahn (1990) revealed that moments of personal engagement stem from work contexts viewed as
psychologically meaningful and safe, as well as those that enable psychological availability (see also May, Gilson, & Harter,
2004). Psychological meaningfulness is experienced when people feel worthwhile, useful, and valuable. Such feelings result
from jobs involving challenge, variety, creativity and autonomy, work roles that provide people with attractive identities and
status, as well as interpersonal interactions that promote dignity, self-appreciation, and a sense of making a positive difference
(cf. Grant, 2007).
Psychological safety is marked by people sensing that they can express and devote themselves without fear of negative conse-
quences to their self-image, status, or career (Kahn, 1990). Psychological safety results from trusting relationships (especially with
superiors), well-dened roles and expectations that clarify the bounds for safely expressing oneself, and sensing that failed initiatives
are more likely to be occasions for learning than strife. In lieu of such protective boundaries, people can feel unsafe and thus guard
themselves by withdrawing rather than whole-heartedly investing themselves in their work (cf. Edmondson, 1999).
Psychological availability is the sense of having the physical, emotional, or psychological resources to personally engage during a
particular moment(Kahn, 1990, p. 714). It is a crucial psychological condition for full engagement with one's work, as being available
requires security in one's abilities and status that enables a focus on tasks rather than anxieties(Kahn, 1990, p. 716).
3. Antecedents of employee engagement
Perhaps the most widely applied framework for studying engagement is the job demandsresources (JD-R) model (Bakker &
Demerouti, 2007; Bakker, Demerouti, & Verbeke, 2004;cf.Saks & Gruman, 2014). According to this model, high job demands
(e.g., work overload, job insecurity, role ambiguity, time pressure, and role conict) undermine engagement by exhausting
employees' mental, emotional, and physical resources. On the other hand, job resources help individuals to achieve their work goals
and reduce job demands. Job resources may emanate from the organization (e.g., pay, career opportunities, job security), interpersonal
relations (e.g., with one's supervisor and/or coworkers), the organization of work (e.g., role clarity and participation in decision
making), and from the task itself (e.g., via skill variety, task identity, task signicance, autonomy, performance feedback). Bakker
and Demerouti (2007) proposed that job resources increase employee engagement by building both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation,
as well as by buffering the potentially exhausting impact of job demands.
Consistent with the JD-R model, a meta-analysis by Christian et al. (2011) found that job characteristics such as autonomy, task
variety, task signicance and feedback function as resources that increase engagement, as do problem solving, job complexity and
social support. Christian et al. (2011) also reported that engagement is reduced by high physical demands (i.e., the amount of physical
effort necessary for a job) and harsh working conditions (e.g., health hazards, temperature, and noise).
Other resources that foster employee engagement include transformational leadership and leadermember exchange (Christian
et al., 2011), having a manager who is engaged and appreciative (May et al., 2004), anti-sexual harassment practices (Jiang et al.,
2015), and a work environment in which employees are consulted, appreciated, and have a best friend (Harter et al., 2002). Engage-
ment is alsohigher when employees have adequate restorative non-work recovery (i.e., rest; Sonnentag, Mojza, Demerouti, & Bakker,
330 L.A. Keating, P.A. Heslin / Human Resource Management Review 25 (2015) 329341
2012) and meaningful work (Soane et al., 2013). Finally, employee engagement is increased by High Commitment HRM practices,
such as continuous training, high job security, development opportunities, career management, job rotation, and extensive benets
packages (Alfes, Truss, Soane, Rees, & Gatenby, 2013), particularly among employees with low task prociency regarding their
work role (Boon & Kalshoven, 2014).
In contrast to this voluminous literature on contextual factors, there have been relatively few studies on the role of indivi dual
differences in engagement (Saks & Gruman, 2014). Notable exceptions include research showi ng that employees' engagement is
predicted by their psychological capital (Avey, Wernsing, & Luthans, 2008), core self-evaluations (Rich et al., 2010), as well as
conscientiousness and proactive personality (Christian et al., 2011).
Hobfoll's (1989, 2002)Conservation of Resources (COR) theorysuggests that people strive to attain and protect resources that they
value or that aid them in obtaining other valued resources. Drawing on Hobfoll's (1989) notion of personal characteristics as resources
that are important for individual adaptability, Xanthopoulou, Bakker, Demerouti, and Schaufeli (2007) extended the range of
resources encompassed by the JD-R model of employee engagement to include personal resources dened as aspects of the self
that are generally linked to resiliency and refer to individuals' sense of their ability to control and impact upon their environment
successfully(p. 124) such as self-efcacy, optimism, and organization-based self-esteem.
Inspired by Latham's (2012) proposal that useful advances in human resource management and organizational psychology may
stem from drawing upon well-developed concepts in other areas of psychology, we draw on almost three decades of theory and
research in social, educational, and organizational psychology to illuminate how the concept of mindsets (Dweck, 1986, 1999,
2006) may be an additional personal resource that paves the way for a fresh, conceptually-derived approach to understanding,
predicting, and facilitating employee engagement. Personal resources can facilitate goal achievement, buffer the psychological and
physiological effects of threats and/or demands, as well as foster personal growth and development (Xanthopoulou, Bakker,
Demerouti, & Schaufeli, 2009). As detailed below, growth mindsets enable goal attainment, minimize the impact of adversity, and
stimulate development by virtue of emphasizing the plasticity of one's abilities. By introducing mindsets as a personal resource to
the engagement literature, we show how mindsets help answer the perennial questions of why some employees tend to be more
engaged than others, and more or less engaged at some moments than others. The answers we provide, in terms of employees'
prevailing mindsets, have clear and viable practical implications for enabling increased engagement. Next we discuss the nature of
mindsets, before explaining the mechanisms whereby mindsets may inuence employees' engagement.
4. Mindsets
Mindsets are the implicit theories or assumptions that people hold about the plasticity of their abilities. An entity implicit theory
(Dweck, 1986), intuitively relabled by Dweck (2006) as a xed mindset,reects the underlying assumption that an ability is largely
a static, xed entity that is not amenable to being changed very much.
Axed mindset is exemplied in statements that underscore
limitations in the scope for people to develop, such as You can't really teach anold dog new tricks,and You can't make a silk purse
out of a sow's ear.On the other hand, an incremental implicit theory (Dweck, 1986), relabled as a growth mindset (Dweck, 2006)
embodies the assumption that abilities are malleable and can be cultivated through concerted effort. Statements underscoring the
process of ability and skill development, such as Talents are developed, not discoveredand Things are almost always hard before
they are easy,reect a growth mindset.
Mindsets are a mental framework that guide how people think, feel, and act in achievement contexts (Dweck, 1999). Decades of
research in domains such as educational (e.g., Blackwell, Trzesniewski, & Dweck, 2007), social (e.g., Beer, 2002), and organizational
(e.g., Heslin, Latham, & VandeWalle, 2005) psychology have revealed the self-regulatory and interpersonal implications of mindsets.
When people hold a xed mindset, the assumption that abilities cannot be altered very much leads them to avoid challenges that
might expose an inherent ability deciency (Hong, Chiu, Dweck, Lin, & Wan, 1999). A xed mindset inclines people to view effort
as fruitless (Mueller & Dweck, 1998) and to ignore negative and potentially helpful feedback (Heslin & VandeWalle, 2005, April).
The assumption that abilities are immutable also prompts those with a xed mindset to rapidlyjudge people for their perceived trans-
gressions (Erdley & Dweck, 1993) that can strain their relationships with others (Knee, Patrick, & Lonsbary, 2003).
When people have a growth mindset, however, they tend to embrace challenges and construe effort as crucial for mastering tasks
(Blackwell et al., 2007). The beliefthat abilities are malleable prompts people to seek and pay attention to corrective feedback (Heslin
& VandeWalle, 2005, April; Mangels, Buttereld, Lamb, Good, & Dweck, 2006) and to perceive setbacks as reecting a need for more
effort and better strategies, rather than indicative of limited ability. Instead of condemning others for their perceived wrongdoings
(Erdley & Dweck, 1993), a growth mindset is associated with helping others to develop and change (Heslin, VandeWalle, &
Latham, 2006).
While mindsets occur on a continuum between the xed and growth prototypes, most people typically hold either a primarily
xed or growth mindset about their abilities in particular areas (Burnette et al., 2013). For instance, a person could hold a growth
mindset about her quantitative ability and a xed mindset about her ability to work with difcult customers (Dweck, 1999). Mindsets
are also only weakly empirically relatedto personality (e.g., Spinath, Spinath, Riemann, & Angleitner, 2003), which suggests they exist
independently of personality rather than emanating from it.
Although relatively few studies have examined mindsets in the context of work (see Heslin and colleagues for exceptions), the
related construct of goal orientation (cf. DeShon & Gillespie, 2005) has been linked to task specic self-efcacy, self-set goal level,
Although the more accessible term mindsetsis increasingly used instead of the original implicit theoriesterm within the scholarly literature on thisconstruct
(e.g., Burnette, O'Boyle, VanEpps, Pollack, & Finkel, 2013; Yeager & Dweck, 2012), note that the ontology of implicit theories and mindsets is identical.
331L.A. Keating, P.A. Heslin / Human Resource Management Review 25 (2015) 329341
and feedback seeking, as well as more distal employee outcomes such as task and job performance (Payne, Youngcourt, & Beaubien,
2007), innovative job performanceand job satisfaction (Janssen & Van Yperen, 2004). Chughtai and Buckley (2011)also observed that
a learning goal orientation partially mediates the effects of work engagement on in-role job performance and innovative behavior.
Dweck and Leggett (1988) suggested that a performance goal orientation within a particular context stems from a xed mindset,
while a growth mindset primes the setting of learning goals that are the hallmark of a learning goal orientation (VandeWalle, 1997).
The goal orientation literature has been nonetheless beset by denitional ambiguity with goal orientation being variously concep-
tualized as a dispositional trait (e.g., Bell & Kozlowski, 2002; VandeWalle, 1997), a quasi-trait (e.g., Button, Mathieu, & Zajac, 1996;
Mangos & Steele-Johnson, 2001), achievement goals (e.g., Harackiewicz, Barron, Tauer, & Elliot; Karabenick & Collins-Eaglin, 1997),
mental frameworks (e.g., Lee, Sheldon, & Turban, 2003; Strage, 1997), and beliefs (Franken & Brown, 1995; Hertenstein, 2001;cf.
DeShon & Gillespie, 2005).
DeShon and Gillespie (2005, p. 1101) thus concluded that The multiple denitions of goal orientation provide an unstable foun-
dation for research on the antecedents and consequences of the goalorientation construct.In order to transcend such issues, as well
as the ambiguity about how to interpret different permutations of goal orientations (i.e., various combinations of high, medium, and
low levels of each type of goal orientation), this paper focuses on explicating the various employee engagement-related self-
regulatory and interpersonal implications of the relatively more parsimonious concept of mindsets.
4.1. Sources of mindsets
While naturally occurring chronic mindsets can be relatively stable (Robins & Pals, 2002), Dweck, Chiu, and Hong (1995) concep-
tualized mindsets as malleable personal qualities, rather than as xed traits that can becultivated by persuasive messages, similarly to
other malleable dispositions such as hope (Seligman, 1998) and optimism (Snyder, 2002). Consistent with this conceptualization,
research has revealed that xed and growth mindsets can be fostered by emphasizing the diagnosticity versus learnability of a
given task (Wood & Bandura, 1989), reading scientic testimonials that endorse a xed or growth mindset (Kray & Haselhuhn,
2007), as well as self-persuasion based interventions (Aronson, Fried, &Good, 2002; Heslin et al., 2005). Mindsets can also be induced
by working in an environment that endorses either a largely xed or malleable view of intelligence. In a culture of genius (Murphy &
Dweck, 2010), people share the belief that talent and intelligence are xed attributes that are prime drivers of performance capabil-
ities, as embodied in organizations such as Enron that:
prized sheer brainpowerabove all else, where the task of sorting out intellectual starsfrom the merely super-bright
was the top priority when making hires and promotions. It was an environment where one of the most powerful executives
was described as being so sure that he was the smartest guy in the room that anyone who disagreed with him was summarily
dismissed as just not bright enough to get it.
[(McLean & Elkind, 2003,citedinMurphy & Dweck, 2010, p. 283)]
On the other hand, cultures of growth (Murphy & Dweck, 2010) are marked by collective endorsement of the belief that talent and
intelligence can be cultivated. Within organizational cultures of growth, peopleare more likely to be built rather than bought from the
external labor market, as shown by human resource management strategies that place a greater emphasis on training and develop-
ment, relative to recruitment and selection.
Within homes and classrooms, xed mindsets are cued when successful performances are attributed to the traits of being smart
or brilliant,rather than to having worked hard (Mueller & Dweck, 1998). Even praise such as youareagooddrawer(Cimpian,
Arce, Markman, & Dweck, 2007, p. 314) implies an underlying and perhaps innate drawing ability that is not possessed by those
who are not agooddrawer.
In a similar vein, employees are likely to hold xed mindsets when they routinely receive praise from managers or leaders that
focuses on who they are, rather than what they did to achieve high performance. Aspeople often striveto live up to the labels assigned
to them (McNatt, 2000), an employee labeled as brilliantmay subsequently shun challenging tasksand contexts in which their iden-
tity and reputation for being a gifted genius might be jeopardized (Dweck, 2006).
By contrast, growth mindsets are cued when successful performances are attributed to working hard and people are praised for
their effort and initiative (Mueller & Dweck, 1998). People are subsequently more likely to persistin making considerable investments
in knowledge and skill development, even when the payoff for doing so is not readily apparent (Dweck, 2006).
5. Employees' mindsets and engagement
Mindsets potentially inuence employees' engagement in several ways; specically, via their enthusiasm for development, con-
strual of effort, focus of attention, interpretation of setbacks, and interpersonal interactions, as depicted in Fig. 1.
5.1. Enthusiasm for development
When people possess a xed mindset, they believe that little can be done to improve their presumably rigid abilities. This assump-
tion inclines peopleto view challengingtasks as tests that could diagnoseinherent abilitydeciencies. Thosewith a xed mindset thus
often disengage from potentially enlightening challenges (Dweck, 1999). In a study of entering freshman at a university in Hong Kong,
332 L.A. Keating, P.A. Heslin / Human Resource Management Review 25 (2015) 329341
where English prociency is necessary, Hong et al. (1999) identied students who could benet from taking a remedial English class.
After assessing their mindset, Hong et al. asked these students about their willingness to take the class. Those students who held a
xed mindset were less willing to take the remedial class than their peers holding a growth mindset. In fact, in order to avoid jeop-
ardizing their psychological safety by acknowledging a deciency and proactively working to remedy it, the students with a xed
mindset were willing to risk both their academic standing and subsequent job prospects.
On the other hand, a growth-oriented assumption of one's abilities leads people to engage in developmental opportunities, even if
doing so risks encountering setbacks or poor performance. Beer (2002) observed that mindsets differentially affect how introverts
approach social situations. Specically, as those with a growth mindset believed that they could learn to improve their sociability
and eventually master their shyness, they construed social situations as valuable opportunities to learn. In doing so, they used less
avoidant and more proactive social strategies than their introverted peers who held a xedmindset.Byactivelyengagingwithand
practicing during typically daunting social encounters, introverts with a growth mindset were eventually viewed as more socially
competent by others than those with a xed mindset. Taken together, these studies illustrate how a xed mindset can lead people
to avoid engaging in challenging developmental opportunities.
Proposition 1. Axed mindset impedes employees' engagement by virtue of diminishing their enthusiasm for development.
5.2. Construal of effort
Is expending a great amount of effort essential for learning and highperformance, or indicative that one lacks thenatural talent to
succeed? Through the lens of a xed mindset, people essentially either have high ability or need to exert considerable effort, reecting
an assumption that signicant effort is only needed by those who are not innately talented in a particular domain (Dweck, 2006). It is
thus not surprising that people are reluctantto exert high effortwhen they are focusedon validating theirability. For instance, Mueller
and Dweck (1998) cued xed mindsets by attributing participants' purported strong performance on a moderately difcult task to
them being smart,while growth mindsets were cued by attributing other participants' performance on this task to them having
worked hard.All participants were then given aneven more challenging task. After encountering failure, not only did those praised
for being smartreport enjoying the taskless, but they exerted less effort and exhibited less task persistence, relative to those praised
for their hard work. This illustrates that while growth mindsets are focused on what you do (i.e., work hard), xed mindsets are
focused on who you are (i.e., smart).
Blackwell et al. (2007) observed that when people have a growth mindset they hold more positive beliefs about the value of
effort. Following a sample of students in junior high school, an upward trajectory of mathematics grades was linked to assumptions
regarding the utility of effort in overcoming difculty. When students held a growth mindset, they attributed their poor performances
mostly to a lack ofeffort and subsequently deployed more effort-based strategies (e.g., spendingmore time studying for tests) to boost
their mathematics achievement, rather than helpless responses (e.g., procrastination and avoiding retaking the subject). A xed
mindset tendency to question one's aptitude for a task when considerable effort is expended is likely to undermine the psychological
availability that is essential for engagement. In contrast, a growth mindset inclination to see the power of effort to develop initially
inadequate ability can prompt vigorous dedication to the task at hand.
Proposition 2. A growth mindset facilitates employee engagement by cuing more positive beliefs about effort than a xed mindset.
Antecedents of Mindsets and Paths to Employee Engagement
Enthusiasm for
Construal of Effort
Focus of Attention
Perspective on
Fig. 1. Antecedents of mindsets and paths to employee engagement.
333L.A. Keating, P.A. Heslin / Human Resource Management Review 25 (2015) 329341
5.3. Focus of attention
A hallmark of engagement is attentiveness to what is occurring in the present moment (Kahn, 1990). Such attentiveness facilitates
interpersonal relationships, as well as learning and performance on difcult and dynamic tasks. Inadequate attentiveness can jeopar-
dize safety, potentially leading to deadly accidents such as the crash of Comair Flight 5191 in August 2007 that killed 49 of the 50 peo-
ple on board (Saks, 2008). According to the National Transportation Safety Board (2007, p. 105), the probable cause of the accident
the ight crewmembers' failure to use available cues and aids to identify the airplane's location on the airport surface during
taxi and their failure to cross-check and verify that the airplane was on the correct runway before takeoff. Contributing to the
accident were the ight crew's nonpertinent conversations during taxi, which resulted in a loss of positional awareness.
Mindsets play an important role in vigilance to important information, as shown by research focused at the attentional and neu-
ropsychological levels. Plaks, Dweck, Stroessner, and Sherman (2001) investigated the attention paid to stereotype-consistent versus
inconsistent information as a function of a person's mindset. Across four experiments, those holding a xed mindset paid more atten-
tion to and showed greater recognition of stereotype consistent information, while those with a growthmindset didthe opposite.
Those with a xed mindset seek and process information in a way that maintains their stereotypes, whereas those with a growth
mindset are more open-minded, which likely enables them to transcend their stereotypes (Levy, Stroessner, & Dweck, 1998). The
resulting alertness to other people's uniqueness that goes beyond their membership of racial, gender, and other categories, may lay
the foundation for the meaningful interactions and relationships that foster engagement.
Mangels et al. (2006) used brainwave monitoring technology to study college students' event-related brain potentialsas they com-
pleted a challenginggeneral knowledge task. As they completed the task, participants were informed whether each answer was right
or wrong, and were soon afterwards given feedback explaining the correct answer for those they had not answered correctly. Who
paid attention? The waveforms associated with error detection and correction showed that participants with a growth mindset
had considerably more neural activity in the region of the brain that processed corrective feedback, relative to those with a xed
mindset. A growth mindset thereby enhanced learning from the feedback, as revealed by the superior subsequent retest performance
of those holding a growth mindset, compared to those with a xed mindset. This study provides neuropsychological evidence that a
growth mindset facilitates attentiveness to the kinds of edifying information that enables learning and skill development.
Both Plaks et al. (2001) and Mangels et al. (2006) show that a growth mindset facilitates the alertness to new, useful information
that characterizes the psychological availability associated with engagement. Such open-minded adaptability is a likely asset in
dynamic work roles such as those involving customer service, healthcare, safety, education or knowledge work wherein effective-
ness depends critically upon one's alertness to recognize and respond constructively to unexpected developments.
Proposition 3. A growth mindset facilitates employee engagement by prompting attentiveness to task-relevant information.
5.4. Perception of setbacks
Feedback suggesting that one's performance has not met expectations is to be expected in most contemporary work roles. The
perception of failures and setbacks, such as whether they reect limited ability to succeed, affects how people respond, recover,
and the extent to which they learn from these disappointments. A growth mindset inclines people to perceive setbacks as an inherent
part of the learning process that signals a need for more effective strategies. This leads to choosing to study the strategies of better
performers and undertake difcult tasks on which learning (and also the chance of failure) is possible (Nussbaum & Dweck, 2008).
In contrast, perceiving setbacks as a negative evaluation of one's ability shortcomings can cue dysfunctional thoughts, feelings, and
behaviors, such as studying the strategies of poor or mediocre performers in an attempt to make oneself feel better (Nussbaum &
Dweck, 2008). In the face of failures and setbacks, a xed mindset prompts people to withdraw effort, inate reports of performance,
and disregard potentially helpful feedback (Dweck, 1999, 2006).
Responding to setbacks with a growth mindset is marked by resolute task focus, concerted effort, and methodical strategy develop-
ment. Learning and performance on complex tasks is thereby enhanced (Blackwell et al., 2007; Wood & Bandura, 1989). For example, in
the realm of learning to negotiate where setbacks and frustrations are rife holding a growth mindset about one's negotiation ability
predicts both negotiating prowess (i.e., value claiming and value creating), as well as performance in both one-shot negotiations and
overall learning from a negotiation course (Kray & Haselhuhn, 2007).
Throughout a difcult chemistry course, Grant and Dweck (2003) observed that college students' motivation to learn (reecting a
growth mindset) was associated with mastery-oriented factors such as persistence and strategy development, even after receiving
disappointing initial grades. While those focused on validating their intellectual ability (reecting a xed mindset) perceived their
initial poor performance as diagnostic of what they could achieve, students who were more concerned with learning revised their
study strategies in response to this early setback. By the end of the course, these students received the highest grades, by virtue of
viewing setbacks as helpful information that could be used to further their development, rather than as indicative of low ability. In
contrast to a xed mindset, a growth mindset is thus likely to enhance engagement by prompting people to perceive setbacks as
information about what to do differently, rather than a diagnosis of their low inherent ability.
334 L.A. Keating, P.A. Heslin / Human Resource Management Review 25 (2015) 329341
Proposition 4. A growth mindset facilitates employee engagement by cuing people to interrogate setbacks for useful information about
how to improve.
5.5. Interpersonal interactions
Most work roles involve interacting with others. Dealing with people in an open, respectful, and helpful manner generally
yields interactions that are meaningful and psychologically safe for all concerned (Edmondson, 1999; Kahn, 1990). Mindsets
play an important role in whether interactions unfold in this manner, or alternatively in an antagonistic way that leaves the
interacting parties feeling judged, disconnected, and frustrated.
The assumption that personality is malleable can reduce negative reactions to social adversities (e.g., being bullied). When
students were exposed to a growth mindset intervention that emphasized how people can change, Yeager et al. (2014) observed
that participants exhibited less negative reactions to social adversity, lower stress and illness, as well as better grades eight months
later. This study reveals how growth mindset interventions can yield positive long-term effects and more specically, how resilience
is fostered by highlighting people's capacity to grow.
Mutually enjoyable interactions potentially reect a growth mindset inclination to engage with other people in a helpful, rather
than a judgmental manner. Conversely, a xed mindset leads to believing that even a single undesirable behavior sends a clear
negative signal about the type of person someone is (Dweck et al., 1995), together with an inclination to stereotype (Levy et al.,
1998) and punish them for their perceived transgressions and character aws. For example, Chiu, Dweck, Tong, and Fu (1997)
observed that instead of acting like those holding a xed mindset who wanted to punish a professor for a seemingly unfair last-
minute change in grading policy, students with a growth mindset were more forgiving and inclined to educate the professor about
how to do the right thing.
This consultative and non-judgmental approach may help people with a growth mindset to discover the kinds of winwin
alternatives (Kray & Haselhuhn, 2007), as well as cultivate the meaning and psychological safety associated with engagement
(Kahn, 1990). On the other hand, a xed mindset tendency to blame others and seek revenge can become markedly self-defeating,
as illustrated by a woman who indicated that with regard to her ex-husband: If I had to choose between me being happy and him
being miserable, I would denitely want him to be miserable (Dweck, 2006, p. 145). Thus, compared with a growth mindset, a xed
mindset is likely to undermine an individual's ability to constructively handle interpersonal challenges that may subsequently affect
Proposition 5. Axed mindset impedes employee engagement by virtue of diminishing positive interactions with others.
To summarize, holding a growth mindset increases and a xed mindset undermines employees' enthusiasm for development,
belief in the utility of effort, attentiveness to new and useful information, and the likelihood of construing failuresas challenging and
energizing opportunities to learn, rather than as threatening judgments of one's abilities. Finally, a growth mindset cues people to
approach interpersonal challenges, such as misaligned agendas, priorities, and convictions about appropriate modes of conduct, in
the respectful, forgiving, and helpful manner that enables positive and meaningful encounters and connections with other people
(Dutton & Heaphy, 2003).
6. Discussion
A growth mindset is surely no panacea for enabling employee engagement. This is because levels of engagement reect the
dynamic interaction between a wide array of contextual demands and resources, individual differences, and personal resources
outlined earlier. For instance, when work-role demands are excessive and organizational support is lacking, a growth
mindset alone will notnecessarily yield high engagement. Themindset with which such demands and (lack of)support are construed,
however, may guide employees' thoughts, feelings, and actions in ways that affect their subsequent engagement.
With a xed mindset, for example, cynicism about the utility of high effort and concerns about what exerting it might signify may
cue responding to work-overload with thoughts of doubt about having the stamina to cope thereby undermining psychological
availability as well as feelings of fear about one's self-image, status, and career consequences of failing to rise to the occasion that
are hallmarks of diminished psychological safety. Viewed through the lensof a growth mindset, the demands for extraordinary effort
required by work overload are more liable to being seen as a challenge and opportunity to stretch oneself and develop one's abilities
(Blackwell et al., 2007).
When managers are seen as not doing what is expected of them, such as being supportive and acting in a procedurally just
manner, employees might react with thoughts about how to seek vengeance (Chiu et al., 1997; Yeager et al., 2014), as well as
with reduced feelings of commitment and willingness to be helpful by going the extra mile (Heslin & VandeWalle, 2011).
Withagrowthmindset,employeesaremorelikelytostrivetoeducate(Chiu et al., 1997) and help their manager to improve
(Heslin et al., 2006), thereby potentially fostering the desired supportiveness and leadermember exchange associated with
engagement (Christian et al., 2011).
According to Bandura (1986), useful theories offer not only a coherent understanding of some aspect of human functioning, but
also pave the way for empirical prediction and useful change. So far we have explained how and why employees' mindsets about
the abilities required by the task(s) they are performing may inuence their engagement. Next we consider when a growth mindset
335L.A. Keating, P.A. Heslin / Human Resource Management Review 25 (2015) 329341
may be less predictive of engagement than a xed mindset, before suggesting some avenues for future research regarding the role of
mindsets in engagement. We conclude by outlining a range of practical implications for organizations, managers, and employees
interested in cultivating their engagement with their work.
6.1. When growth mindsets might not foster engagement
Compared to a growth mindset, a xed mindset cues fairly rapid and rigid conclusions about what one is able to achieve. Plaks and
Stecher (2007) theorized that mindsets create expectations about personal performance trajectories and that people may be averse to
deviations from these expectations. They conducted a fascinating experiment in which participants were randomly assigned to
receive feedback indicating that their performance had either improved, declined, or remained static over time. Plaks and Stecher
(2007) observed that people with a xed mindset took performance decline and improvement worse than did those with a growth
mindset, viewing them as unexpected, difcult to account for, and thus more anxiety-provoking than if their performance level
had remained static.
Indeed, of the participants assigned to be informed that their performance had not changed, those with a growth mindset expe-
rienced more anxietyand displayed weaker subsequent effort and performance than those with a xed mindset. From the perspective
of a growth mindset, a failure to improve despite their effort and opportunity to do so represented a direct refutation of their implicit
belief in their capacity to develop. Thus, evidence of being on a developmental trajectory that is inconsistent with one's mindset can
produce anxiety and may impede engagement.
An important implication is that in roles where there is limited scope for skill and performance development, such as working on a
production line whenthe quality of one'swork is already exemplary and the rate of one'swork is limited by thespeed of the line, those
possessing a xed mindset are likely tobe mor e engaged than those holding a growth mindset. Indeed, with the growingprevalence of
underemployment (Erdogan & Bauer, 2009)when the qualications and skills required by the role are less than the job incumbent
possesses axed mindset may facilitate engagement by helping individuals avert the potential frustrations associated with not
exercising and increasing their performance capabilities. However, under the more common, less structurally-constrained circum-
stances where there is scope for skill and performance development, those with a growth mindset are less likely to be encumbered
by the defensive inclinations and anxieties that can undermine their engagement.
6.2. Research implications
In striving to supplement the substantial literature on contextual, individual difference, and personal resource antecedents of
engagement, we have theorized about the potential role of mindsets. The relationships between mindsets and the proposed mecha-
nisms of enthusiasm for development, construal of effort, focus of attention, perception of setbacks, and interpersonal interactions are
empirically well-established, though mostly by laboratory studies with children and college students. Although there is evidencethat
mindset dynamics generalize to the workplace (e.g., Heslin et al., 2005; Heslin et al., 2006), eld research directly examining the
relationship between mindsets and employee engagement, as mediated by mechanisms such as those depicted in Fig. 1, is now need-
ed. Such research might usefully deploy the growth mindset intervention protocol outlined in Table 1 which has been found to per-
suade those with a xed mindset to adopt a growth mindset that lasts for at least six weeks (Heslin et al., 2005).
In light of Gallup's (2013) survey, which reports that a substantial percentage of employees are disengaged at work, longitudinal
eld research is also needed to empirically examine our propositions in order to pave the way for more denitive conclusions about
the relationship between mindsets and engagement. In particular, studies that systematically and perhaps repeatedly deploy growth
mindset development strategies based on the principles outlined in Table 1 may, over time, eventually instill in employees a relatively
chronic growth mindset that has important implications for sustaining their engagement with their work.
Beyond research that investigates general tendencies that affect engagement at work, this paper provides a theoretical foundation
for examining within-person variation in employee engagement. Specically, by measuring uctuations in mindset throughout the
working day, within-person research could provide a more nuancedunderstanding of the psychological processes underlyingengage-
ment. Designs that model this dynamic process might also conceivably reveal empirical results that vary across levels of analysis. That
is, the form of the relationship between mindsets and engagement may differ across the within- and between-person levels. Despite
conceptualizations of mindset as both enduring (Robins & Pals, 2002) and transitory (Dweck, 1999, 2006; Dweck et al., 1995),
mindsets research largely reects a between-person perspective. Thus, research on the relationship between mindsets and engage-
ment at the within-person level, which might utilize experience sampling methodologies or diary surveys to assess mindsets, state
engagement, and the mediators we have suggested, has the potential to make a substantial contribution to the mindsets and engage-
ment literatures.
Field research might also productively assess how mindsets interact with other personal resource antecedents of engagement. For
instance, a laboratory study by Wood and Bandura (1989) observed that a growth mindset protects self-efcacy from being
diminished by setbacks, relative to when people hold an induced xed mindset. Given the important role of self-efcacy in engage-
ment (Xanthopoulou et al., 2009), research might usefully investigate if cultivating growth mindsets facilitates sustained engagement
when setbacks are experienced, by enabling people to maintain relatively high levels of self-efcacy for the task at hand. This research
might usefully examine whether induced growth mindsets also support the other personal resources (i.e., optimism and organization-
based self-esteem) andsomewhat malleable dispositions (i.e., psychological capitaland core self-evaluations) that areassociated with
336 L.A. Keating, P.A. Heslin / Human Resource Management Review 25 (2015) 329341
Schaufeli, Bakker, and Van Rhenen (2009) observed that engagement is increased by managers who enact considerate behaviors
such as coaching employees and providing them feedback and support. Given that having a growth mindset prompts managers to
help their employees (Heslin et al., 2006) and treat them fairly (Heslin & VandeWalle, 2011), research is warranted on whether
employees' engagement may be increased by training managers to adopt and sustain a growth mindset towards their employees.
This research may also investigate whether the helpfulness of managers towards employees, as a function of a growth mindset, man-
ifests in the opposite direction; specically, if holding a growth mindset prompts employees to be helpful to their manager, thereby
leading managers to respond by providing the social support that fuels employees' engagement.
A meta-analysis by Crawford, LePine, and Rich (2010) reported that job demands that are typically appraised as hindrances
(i.e., stressful demands that can thwart personal growth, learning, and goal attainment such as role conict, role ambiguity, and
role overload) are consistently negatively related to engagement, whereas job demands that are typically appraised as challenges
(i.e., stressful demands that can promote mastery, personal growth, or future plans such as high workload, time pressure, and high
levels of job responsibility) are positively related to engagement. Research might fruitfully explore whetherinduced growth mindsets
can increase engagement via increasing employees' perceived levels of job resources and positive framing of demands as challenges.
Such research might examine, for instance, whether induced growth mindsets increase perceptions of job control and resultant
engagement via increasing employees' proactivity to learn (Hong et al., 1999), as well as propensity to set learning goals
(Blackwell et al., 2007), and experiment with different strategies for performing complex tasks (Wood & Bandura, 1989).
6.3. Practical implications for cultivating engagement
Given that xed mindsets are potentially toxic to engagement, what can be done to foster growth mindsets? Potential sources of
xed and growth mindsets are the organizational culture in which employees work, as well as managerial actions and self-
development initiatives that employees deploy.
6.3.1. Organizational culture
Murphy and Dweck (2010) proposed that cultures of geniusare characterized by shared assumptions and cultural artifacts such as
newsletters, speeches by top management, selection and promotion criteria, and award ceremonies that convey the xed mindset
notion that some people are inherently gifted, while most arenot. A common example is organizations, such as Sabre Holdings, proud-
ly proclaiming that they recruit and retain only the brightest minds. Enron was similarly renowned for idolizing those few smartest
guys in the room deemed to have the inherent brilliance that most other Enron employees supposedly lacked for engineering
extremely protable business deals (McLean& Elkind, 2003). Sucha culture of genius wasfueled by Enron'sperformance review com-
mittee that methodically identied and summarily red employees whose performance was ranked as the bottom 1015%, thereby
propagating the xed mindset doubts about whether some people's abilities can be developed.
Cultures of growth, on the other hand, are marked by shared beliefs and artifacts (e.g., various training and development initia-
tives) signaling that peoples' abilities are malleable and expandable (Murphy & Dweck, 2010). Southwest Airlines, for instance, is
renowned for its culture of continually cultivating employees' abilities through considerable investments in its employees. SAS
similarly emphasizes that: SAS employees enjoy a supportive environment, outstanding opportunities for professional growth,
and a chance to help SAS drive the new economy(SAS Careers: Great software. Great people, 2014).
There are a range of initiatives that human resource managers might taketo evolve a culture of genius towards a culture ofgrowth.
First, they could provide managers and employees with the type of growth mindset cultivation intervention outlined in Table 1.
Second, they could train managers to adopt a strategic approach to selection and promotion decisions. Doing soinvolves questioning
the culture of genius tendency to target only the most proven candidates by instead giving serious consideration to those candidates
whose performance capability might be most developed by assuming a challenging new role for which they do not yet have all the
required competencies.
Leaders may send compelling signals that employee growth is possible and valued by publically celebrating instances of substan-
tial skill acquisition or improvement by employees from across all levels of the organization. Other potential levers for fostering a
culture of growth are investing in developmental HRM practices likely to underscore employees' growth potential, such as compre-
hensive socialization, peer-mentoring, multisource feedback, performance coaching, sponsored continuing education, study leave,
job shadowing, and job rotation programs.
6.3.2. Managerial actions
Managers can powerfully shapethe thoughts, feelings, and actions of their employees (McNatt, 2000). As noted earlier,applauding
good performance as a reection of how smart or gifted someone is, rather than how hard and diligently she or he has worked,
engenders a xed mindset (Mueller & Dweck, 1998). On the other hand, leaders making attributions to the processes that enable
learning and performance improvement (e.g., working hard, seeking feedback, working systemically) could create growth mindsets
(Mueller & Dweck, 1998). While this seminal nding is yet to be replicated within the workplace, it highlights the potential peril to
employees' growth mindsets of well-intentioned managers labeling their subordinates using ostensibly supportive trait terms such
as star performer, gifted, or superstar (cf. Michaels, Handeld-Jones, & Axelrod, 2001). Such labels may inadvertently cause top
performers to adopt a xed mindset, become risk averse, and thus disengage from high risk challenges, rather than jeopardize a trea-
sured self-impression and reputation for being a star performer.
Ways that managers can praise employees, without inadvertently cuing xed mindsets, focus on the process employees undertook
to attain positive outcomes (e.g., a successful product launch or negotiation outcome), as opposed to their innate talent that
337L.A. Keating, P.A. Heslin / Human Resource Management Review 25 (2015) 329341
presumably enabled them to achieve it. Examples include underscoring to employees what they achieved as a result of setting
challenging goals, questioning their assumptions, working hard, collaborating with those with different perspectives, persisting
in the face of setbacks, and/or systematically striving to identify ways to improve, adapt to change, and attain outstanding per-
formance. As long as such feedback is credible, this approach to describing what employees have done to perform well rather
than who or what they supposedly are has potential to cue growth mindsets and subsequent employee engagement.
Just as managers cannot lead others any more effectively than they can lead themselves (Bennis, 2009), they are also unlikely to
cultivate growth mindsets within their employees when they are personally prone to responding to signicant challenges and
setbacks with a xed mindset. Initiatives derived from relevant research (Aronson et al., 2002; Heslin et al., 2005;cf.Dweck, 2006)
that managers can adopt to approach their challenges with a growth mindset are outlined in Table 2.
6.3.3. Self-development initiatives
People think, feel, act, and interact like someone with a growth mindset when they construe challenging situations as opportuni-
ties for learning, growth, and attainment, rather than as encounters in which their (lack of) inherent abilities will be diagnosed and
judged. In order to make a growth mindset more salient within themselves, employees are encouraged to work through the exercises
outlined in Table 2. When doing so, engaging in peer support, public commitments, and social learning (i.e., hearing others' stories)
can help to mold personal convictions (Aronson, 1999). Individuals are thus encouraged to work in pairs or small groups to identify
domains in which they hold a xed mindset and ways they could apply the kinds of strategies outlined in Table 2 to adopt a growth
mindset with regard to their work in those domains.
Table 2
Initiatives for creating and sustaining a growth mindset.
1. Think of challenging tasks as an exciting opportunity to learn what works and does not work well, rather than as a barometer of whether you have natural
ability or are gifted in a particular area.
2. Think of your successes and failures as reecting the quality of your effort, strategies and choices, rather than as indicators of your (lack of) innate talent.
3. Ponder the process whereby you cultivated your abilities to read, write, and do math etc. Remember that few worthwhile capabilities are acquired without
persistent effort and plenty of frustrating setbacks along the way.
4. Recall when you felt humiliated by a performance setback. Consider what you can learn from it and how such events rarely dene one's ultimate
performance capabilities. There are few denitive tests of capabilities and, with focused practice, learning and growth are virtually always possible.
Thinking of yourself as an eager student with a beginner's mind can enhance your engagement and enjoyment of challenges, especially when you sense you
are struggling or failing.
5. Believing and proclaiming that you would like to change in a certain area, but that's just the way I am, may reinforce the xed mindset perspective that your
behavior is essentially a function of xed traits. Instead, explicitly and consistently recognizing your scope for choice and personal change can foster the
growth mindset that facilitates engagement.
6. Investigate the background of someone whose talent you truly admire. Does your research suggest that their talent was merely innate, or did they also
develop it through tremendous, sustained effort?
7. Think of something you have always wanted to learn to do, but never believed you had it in you. Now execute a concrete plan to learn how to do it.
8. Ponder and relish the process of developing your skills, including when you inevitably make mistakes along the way. Be proud of learning from your
mistakes, rather than falling into the xed mindset trap of feeling judged by them.
9. Strive to value and feel genuinely proud of your learning and growth, as well as your performance attainments.
10. Resist the temptation to surround yourself with people focused on validating your brilliance, rather than also challenging you to grow.
Table 1
Growth mindset development procedure (adapted and updated from Heslin et al., 2005).
1. Highlight the brain's growth potential. Share with employees that neuropsychological research is revealing that whenever we focus our minds and learn something,
new connections are established in our brains. Thus, the brain and its abilities are capable of growing like a muscle throughout life, whenever they are exercised
properly. This message can be usefully supplemented with anecdotes of how familiar people ultimately including yourself have substantially developed certain
abilities, sometimes beginning later in life. To supplement your personal anecdotes, many compelling illustrations of how great performance capabilities result more
from years of persistent deliberative practice than from innate talent are provided by Gladwell (2002),Colvin (2008),andDweck (2006).
2. Elicit counter-attitudinal reection. Have employees identify an area (e.g., using a complex web-based application, playing golf, speaking a second language)
where they had initially struggled but now perform well and with relative ease. Encourage them to reect upon and explicitly explain in detail the steps
they took along their developmental path (e.g., setting goals, taking risks, getting lessons, practicing hard, being coached, seeking feedback, watching a
video of one's performance). Then ask the employees to ponder why similar initiatives might not work just as well in an area where they doubt whether
they have any ability to develop.
3. Elicit counter-attitudinal advocacy. Have employees identify someone they care about (e.g., a parent, child, or protégé) who is struggling to believe that his or
her ability can be cultivated. Have them write an encouraging 2-3 page message to this person in which they outline, in their own words, the reasons and
evidence that abilities can be developed, including meaningful personal anecdotes such as those generated during the prior counter-attitudinal reection
4. Induce cognitive dissonance. Have employees identify an instance when they observed somebody learn to do something that they earnestly thought this
person could never do. Then invite them to ponder what could have been the implications of them doubting this person's capabilities. Leading people to
reect upon the potentially huge cost of a xed mindset in terms of constraining other people and themselves from realizing their potential is a
compelling way to foster a growth mindset.
5. Role play replacing xed with growth mindsets. Have employees identify a specic incident when responding to a signicant challenge with a xed mindset
did not serve them well. Then have then record the kinds of xed mindset self-talk that undermined their ability to be at their best in this situation, before
recording more enabling, growth-oriented alternative self-talk they could have used instead. Peer coaching followed by role playing these scenarios can
yield powerful insights about the scope for liberating oneself from an oppressive tendency to respond to setbacks with a xed mindset.
338 L.A. Keating, P.A. Heslin / Human Resource Management Review 25 (2015) 329341
A well-establishedmaxim within the persuasion literature is that vivid and extensive exposure to certain ideasparticularly when
those ideas are self-generated (Aronson, 1999)increases their accessibility and thus inuence on people's subsequent thoughts,
feelings, and behavior (Crano & Prislin, 2006). Individuals eager to develop and maintain a growth mindset are thus encouraged to
draw upon Tables 1 and 2 to create and routinely apply a personal growth mindset development plan. Whenever xed mindset
doubts arise about their ability to conquer a particular challenge (e.g., thinking I'm too old for this), they may fruitfully reect
upon which facet of their growth mindset development plan might most help them stay engaged with identifying how to forge
ahead in learning how to attain their objectives.
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... Personality characteristics refer to individual traits such as extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, openness, neuroticism, emotional intelligence (EI), (Barreiro and Treglown, 2020;Akhtar et al., 2015), proactiveness (Bakker et al., 2012) and enthusiasm for development (Keating and Heslin, 2015). According to Akhtar et al. (2015), increased extraversion, agreeableness, openness and conscientiousness and decreased neuroticism are associated with high levels of work engagement. ...
... According to Akhtar et al. (2015), increased extraversion, agreeableness, openness and conscientiousness and decreased neuroticism are associated with high levels of work engagement. Furthermore, it was found that high levels of EI facilitate engagement (Barreiro and Treglown, 2020), while Keating and Heslin (2015) suggested that employees' growth mindset enhances their enthusiasm for development, which in turn, could lead to increased employee engagement. Feelings and beliefs indicate employees' attitudes toward their working environment. ...
... Mental factors include mindfulness (Montani et al., 2020), employees' mindsets, focus of attention (Keating and Heslin, 2015) and individual spirituality (Roof, 2015). These factors are related to employees' intellectual traits and spiritual well-being, which are valuable aspects of human minds in the workplace. ...
Purpose The purpose of this study is to present a systematic literature review in the research area of engagement focusing on employee and work engagement. In this respect, this study aims to focus on the definitions between employee and work engagement and their differences, as well as to identify the antecedents of the relevant body of knowledge on engagement. Design/methodology/approach A systematic literature review was conducted drawing on an evidence base of 110 articles published in three- and 4-rated journals retrieved from the Academic Journal Guide (2018) during the years 2000–2021. Findings Through a descriptive and thematic analysis of the literature, the study maps the field as a whole, identifies and categorizes relevant engagement definitions as well as individual- and organization-level antecedents. Important insights and gaps in the existing research that may be exploited for further empirical studies are also pinpointed. Originality/value The study may stimulate future research and represent a reference point for scholars interested in the topic of engagement and at the same time provide added value to human resource practitioners that prefer evidence-based management over success stories.
... In their analysis, they argue that a growth mindset restrained individual work engagement, which indirectly reduces individual performance. They recommended further study of the relationship between work engagement and a growth mindset using five mechanisms: enthusiasm for development, positive belief, effort, attention, and personal interaction (Keating and Heslin 2015). In our research, these concepts are studied within the variable of adaptive performance (Charbonnier-Voirin and Roussel 2012). ...
... The first is that between self-efficacy, a growth mindset, work engagement, and active learning. Along with the theories of Job Demand Resource and Job Demand-Control, personal resources such as growth mindset and self-efficacy significantly affect work engagement levels and represent the active learning of individuals (Caesens and Stinglhamber 2014;Keating and Heslin 2015). In line with the qualitative data findings, a growth mindset and self-efficacy directly increase the initiative and efforts of individuals, thereby enabling them to improve their work engagement under dynamic job-demand conditions (Del Libano et al. 2012). ...
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This paper aims to investigate the mechanism linking an individual’s internal processes, work engagement, active learning, and adaptive performance in three of Indonesia’s digital technology-based companies. The research uses a mixed-method approach. The first study used a quantitative research method in which the data is based on a survey of 185 employees and the collected survey data is then analyzed using the Structural Equation Modeling technique. The second study used a qualitative research method where the data is gathered from 17 managers through semi-structured interviews. We found from the quantitative research that work engagement fully mediates the relationship between self-efficacy and a growth mindset toward active learning. Meanwhile, a partial mediating effect of active learning between work engagement and adaptive performance was also discovered. Based on our literature study, previous research has shown inconsistent findings on the relationship between growth mindset and work engagement. Our findings contribute to the existing literature by clarifying the direct relationship between growth mindset and work engagement. Meanwhile, the qualitative findings emphasized that there are two mechanisms underlies individual adaptive performance (i.e., work engagement and active learning). Additionally, the active learning process promotes continuous new knowledge accumulation to produce new innovation inside an organization.
... Many studies have indicated that people with a growth mindset are more likely to learn from their mistakes and reach higher levels of learning performance and achievement than people with a fixed mindset (e.g., Asbury et al., 2016;Bostwick and Becker-Blease, 2018;Yeager and Dweck, 2020). In addition, previous research has also found that employee growth mindset contributes to improved employee engagement (Keating and Heslin, 2015), task performance, job satisfaction, and organizational citizenship behavior (Han and Stieha, 2020). ...
... Moreover, there was evidence that growth mindset is related to adaptive health and psychosocial outcomes such as lower anxiety and postoperative pain (Kain et al., 2021). Although several studies have also shown that growth mindset is able to lead to various desired outcomes for employees such as increased work engagement (Keating and Heslin, 2015;Zeng et al., 2019) and decreased work stress , less is known about the relationship between employee growth mindset and innovative behavior. ...
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This study aimed to investigate the relationship of employee growth mindset with innovative behavior and the mediating role of use of strength as well as the moderating role of strengths-based leadership in this relationship. Data with a sample of 244 employees working in diverse Chinese organizations were collected at two points in time. Results of bootstrapping analyses demonstrated that growth mindset is positively related to innovative behavior, employee strengths use partially mediates the positive relationship of growth mindset with innovative behavior, and strengths-based leadership strengthens the direct relationship between employee growth mindset and innovative behavior and the indirect relationship of employee growth mindset with innovative behavior via strengths use. This study advances growth mindset and innovative behavior theories and research.
... Therefore, data from 356 participants are potentially available for further analysis. According to Hair et al., (2016) stated that it is also important to exclude outlier cases (i.e., 19) from analysis as they are not representative of the sample. Out of the total 337 respondents, the number of female 54.6 percent exceeded the male 45.4 percent. ...
... The process of data preparing, and screening was used to improve data analysis and determine the nature of data distribution (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2007). According to Hair et al. (2016), the process of data preparing, and screening entails treatment with missing data, determining and treating univariate and multivariate outliers, common method variance (CMV) and, lastly, monitoring the line up between data set and multivariate analysis assumption, like multicollinearity test, normality test, and homoscedasticity. Following that, the data was verified for missing values, which there were none. ...
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Research background: An organization needs workers who have been full of vigor and personal confidence; they are passionate and enthusiastic over their job and are entirely concerned about their work pursuits. In other words, an organization needs an engaged work force. Therefore, it is increasingly important for organizations to plan a way that enables workers in order to release their full capacity and being more engaged at work. Organizations nowadays require workers who are emotionally linked to their work and ready to perform everything they be able to foster their organizations' accomplishment. Purpose of the article: The current study, which draws on the Broaden-and-build theory and the job demands-resources model of work engagement, seeks to examine the relationship between growth mindset as a personal resource and work engagement, with the role of positive emotions as mediator. Methods: The current study employed partial least squares structural equation modeling to analyze the mediating role of positive emotions in mindsets and work engagement relationship. A cross-sectional survey was conducted with 356 academics from Algerian public universities who were selected using stratified random sampling. Findings & value added: The finding reveals that positive emotions mediate the relationship between growth mindset and work engagement. The current research provides substantial theoretical and managerial implications for academic staff to be engaged at work. The principal finding of this research is that academic staff with growth mindsets who experienced positive emotions are supposed to be highly engaged at workplace. As a result of these investigations, leaders may increase employee work engagement through paying attention to employees who have a growth mindset and positive emotions.
... A fixed mindset inclines people to view effort as fruitless (Mueller & Dweck, 1998) On the other hand, an incremental implicit theory re-labeled as growth mindset (Dweck, 2006) embodies the assumption that abilities are malleable and can be cultivated through concerted effort. Statements underscoring the process of ability and skill development, such as 'Talents are developed, not discovered' and 'Things are almost always hard before they are easy', reflects a growth mindset (Keating & Heslin, 2015). When people have a growth mindset, they show the tendency to embrace challenges and construe effort as crucial for mastering tasks (Blackwell et al., 2007). ...
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Structured Abstract: Purpose Theoretical application on a case narrative of a services sector employee to find the underlying psychological process leading to employee experiences of workplace suffering, estrangement and alienation. Method Two-part theory-based method to analyse the situation of concern and to derive a remedy. Research limitation and Implication The model/theory of Dweck & Leggett, 1988 was initially based on children in school settings but the theory is validated for its generality beyond time and across challenging situations. Hence it is applied here to study adaptive behaviour and optimal functioning among employees. Practical Implication The study provides enlightenment for aggrieved employees, inquisitive to know, reflect and improve their workplace behaviour and functioning. The study aims to facilitate early-career counsellors and practitioners to engage, re-train and re-orient employees estranged and alienated from work towards a sense of self-worth and work meaningfulness leading to positive workplace functioning and a desired state of well-being. Social Implication The study aims for business organisations to realize in their human resource practices, the theme of the fifth industrial revolution which focuses on humanism, inclusiveness, purpose, civility and creativity whereby limiting loss of talent and livelihood. Originality/Value Employee experience is captured as a re-telling/case narrative. Scientific theory-based analysis was adopted to address the case narrative. The study is placed in an interpretive paradigm with the dimensions of the philosophy of knowledge explained to guide the study. Keywords: Mindset, Goal orientation, Employee experience, Organisation-based self-esteem, Meaningfulness of work, Well-being, Case narrative. Type of Paper: Case study
... Along with incorporating an employee's vitality and commitment, engagement also refers to how persistent and intense people devote their best energy to their work [15]. Thus, the employee must cognitively, physically, and persistently contribute their ideas, solutions, and strengths to their organization's betterment. ...
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The primary objective of this research was to find out the impact of GRX scale (ganqing, renqing, and xinren) on a non-Chinese working environment. Thus, to apply and ascertain the effect of the three dimensions of guanxi on employees’ engagement and, eventually, their job performance in an African working environment. This research used social exchange theory to explain the rela tionship between supervisors and their subordinates. The research data comprises 530 respondents who were randomly chosen from seven organizations. Smart-PLS 3.2.8 was the primary instrument used to analyze the data. The finding indicated that renqing, synonymous with mutual sharing or need for reciprocity, was highly significant with employee engagement and job performance. Hence, a win-win outcome is achieved whenever employers exhibit genuine concern and care for their employees. Additionally, there was a negative relationship between ganqing (emotional attachment) and employee engagement. This revealed that making decisions based on personal relationships will negatively affect employees’ engagement and job performance. This research adds to the literature by revealing that guanxi is applicable in non-Chinese workplaces.
... Hence, the selection of the approach is legitimized through its mission and organization's culture. In this context, it is proposed for the objective and subjective approaches to talent to interpenetrate in this sense that the objective approach determines what personality characterizations are to be sought when identifying talent, whereas the subjective approach provokes an important discussion as to its validation (Keating and Heslin, 2015). In my opinion, most of the talent management interpretations presented above picture the aforementioned process as a transformation: talented people are acquired from the organization's environment, then they are subject to HRM practices aimed at "obtaining" an individual with those characteristics that are desirable by the organization. ...
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Talent management (TM) has attracted the interests both practitioners and scientists, particularly since 2001, when Michaels et al.(2001), proclaimed "the war for talent". Unfortunately, the discourse arouse in the context of meaning of talent also and the world of science face the absolute, undisturbed freedom in talent definition creation. That abovementioned heterogeneity of implementations and settings creates the recent TM literature diverse and unclear. To address this gap, there has been proposed a systematic literature review of 101 articles published in 51 peer-reviewed high-quality academic journals and 28 books, 13 chapters and 2 conference WoS, Scopus and BazEkon indexed papers from January 2000 to June 2018. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate utility of scientific efforts in the context of talent management defining, and its impact on human resources management development.
Organizational culture is considered an important factor affecting several operations‐oriented functions in an organization. However, the research surrounding organizational culture and what constitutes organizational culture remains understudied in the operations management discipline. This study utilizes 24,965 employee‐generated (EG) text reviews of two major US‐based retailers and applies advanced embedded topic modeling technique to identify prevalent cultural elements that retail operational workers in these organizations deemed most important. Overall, the analysis yielded 19 distinct cultural elements across the two retailers with unique elements belonging to each organization. The study provides a novel way to study organizational culture in the operations management discipline and describes the workings of different text analytics methods in detail. In addition to making a methodological contribution to the field, this study provides actionable insights to practitioners and lists several avenues of future research for operations management scholars interested in utilizing text analytics to study organizational culture and other operations‐oriented research problems using text data. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
U.S. Retail Industry employed 4,528,550 retail salespersons, as stated by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics (2017). Tang, Liu, Oh, and Weitz (2014) assert that even though retail is the second largest industry in the United States, the retail stores’ employee turnover rate remains a staggering 60% for full-time employees. Gaining a better understanding of how to reduce turnover in this industry could be of significant value to organizations related to business sustainability and labor costs management. Generation Z represents people born in the 1990s and represents one-third of the U.S. population, a significant potential workforce (Fuscaldo, 2020). For the retail industry to flourish, it needs to hire, develop, and retain Generation Z employees. The study uses qualitative focus group research to discover applied human resources and talent management workplace leadership applications by exploring the ideal organizational culture and approaches to recruit and retain Generation Z employees.
Higher and continuous education help to promote employability in working adults. However, not every working adult has the intention to pursue continuing education courses to stay employable. Growth mindset and perceived support may promote this intention. This study therefore examines the relationships among growth mindset, perceived job and family support, perceived institutional support, and the intention to pursue continuing education courses among working adults. One hundred and sixty six working adults aged between 21 and 70 participated in this study. Significant positive bivariate correlational results were found among growth mindset, perceived job and family support, perceived institutional support, and the intention to enrol in continuing education courses. There was also a significant positive relationship between growth mindset and number of hours the participants worked; and a significant negative relationship between growth mindset and age. Multiple regression results showed that growth mindset was a positive predictor of the intention to pursue continuing education courses, perceived job and family support, as well as perceived institutional support. Interactions among the predictor variables were not significant in the multiple regression analysis. Important implications for researchers, practitioners and policy-makers in continuing education are discussed.
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We theorize that engagement, conceptualized as the investment of an individual's complete self into a role, provides a more comprehensive explanation of relationships with performance than do well-known concepts that reflect narrower aspects of the individual's self. Results of a study of 245 firefighters and their supervisors supported our hypotheses that engagement mediates relationships between value congruence, perceived organizational support, and core self-evaluations, and two job performance dimensions: task performance and organizational citizenship behavior. Job involvement, job satisfaction, and intrinsic motivation were included as mediators but did not exceed engagement in explaining relationships among the antecedents and performance outcomes.
How do people respond to information that counters a stereotype? Do they approach it or avoid it? Four experiments showed that attention to stereotype-consistent vs. -inconsistent information depends on people's implicit theories about human traits. Those holding an entity theory (the belief that traits are fixed) consistently displayed greater attention to (Experiments 1 and 4) and recognition of (Experiments 2 and 3) consistent information, whereas those holding an incremental (dynamic) theory tended to display greater attention to (Experiment 1) and recognition of (Experiment 3) inconsistent information. This was true whether implicit theories were measured as chronic structures (Experiments 1, 2, and 4) or were experimentally manipulated (Experiment 3). Thus, different a priori assumptions about human traits and behavior lead to processing that supports versus limits stereotype maintenance.
Three studies examined implicit self-theories in relation to shy people's goals, responses, and consequences within social situations. Shy incremental theorists were more likely than shy entity theorists to view social situations as a learning opportunity and to approach social settings (Study 1). Shy incremental theorists were less likely to use strategies aimed at avoiding social interaction (Studies 2 and 3) and suffered fewer negative consequences of their shyness (Study 3). These findings generalized across both hypothetical and actual social situations as well as both self-reports and observer reports and could not be attributed to individual differences in level of shyness. Together, these studies indicate that implicit self-theories of shyness are important for understanding individual differences among shy people and suggest new avenues for implicit self-theories research.
In this article, the authors propose that individuals' moral beliefs are linked to their implicit theories about the nature (i.e., malleability) of their social-moral reality. Specifically, it was hypothesized that when individuals believe in a fixed reality (entity theory), they tend to hold moral beliefs in which duties within the given system are seen as fundamental. In contrast, when individuals believe in a malleable reality (incremental theory), one that can be shaped by individuals, they hold moral beliefs that focus on moral principles, such as human rights, around which that reality should be organized. Results from 5 studies supported the proposed framework: Implicit theories about the malleability of one's social-moral reality predicted duty-based vs. rights-based moral beliefs.
This study began with the premise that people can use varying degrees of their selves. physically. cognitively. and emotionally. in work role performances. which has implications for both their work and experi­ ences. Two qualitative. theory-generating studies of summer camp counselors and members of an architecture firm were conducted to explore the conditions at work in which people personally engage. or express and employ their personal selves. and disengage. or withdraw and defend their personal selves. This article describes and illustrates three psychological conditions-meaningfulness. safety. and availabil­ ity-and their individual and contextual sources. These psychological conditions are linked to existing theoretical concepts. and directions for future research are described. People occupy roles at work; they are the occupants of the houses that roles provide. These events are relatively well understood; researchers have focused on "role sending" and "receiving" (Katz & Kahn. 1978). role sets (Merton. 1957). role taking and socialization (Van Maanen. 1976), and on how people and their roles shape each other (Graen. 1976). Researchers have given less attention to how people occupy roles to varying degrees-to how fully they are psychologically present during particular moments of role performances. People can use varying degrees of their selves. physically, cognitively, and emotionally. in the roles they perform. even as they main­ tain the integrity of the boundaries between who they are and the roles they occupy. Presumably, the more people draw on their selves to perform their roles within those boundaries. the more stirring are their performances and the more content they are with the fit of the costumes they don. The research reported here was designed to generate a theoretical frame­ work within which to understand these "self-in-role" processes and to sug­ gest directions for future research. My specific concern was the moments in which people bring themselves into or remove themselves from particular task behaviors, My guiding assumption was that people are constantly bring­ ing in and leaving out various depths of their selves during the course of The guidance and support of David Berg, Richard Hackman, and Seymour Sarason in the research described here are gratefully acknowledged. I also greatly appreciated the personal engagements of this journal's two anonymous reviewers in their roles, as well as the comments on an earlier draft of Tim Hall, Kathy Kram, and Vicky Parker.
Class emphasis on learning goals and incentive structures and their relationship to students’ use of learning strategies were examined. Students in 54 college classes (N = 1,037) rated the perceived importance of mastery and performance goals, and of competitive, individualistic, and cooperative incentive structures. In general, the classes stressed learning course content, individual performance outcomes, and collaboration more than interstudent ability comparisons. The students in classes with greater emphasis on collaboration and less emphasis on grades were more likely to use higher order learning strategies of elaboration and critical thinking. The findings suggest that goals and incentives affect strategy use, although the relationships could have resulted from the instructors’ relative emphasis on goals and incentives and their facilitation of the students’ use of learning strategies.
Employee engagement has become one of the most popular topics in management. In less than 10 years, there have been dozens of studies published on employee engagement as well as several meta-analyses. However, there continue to be concerns about the meaning, measurement, and theory of employee engagement. In this article, we review these concerns as well as research in an attempt to determine what we have learned about employee engagement. We then offer a theory of employee engagement that reconciles and integrates Kahn's (1990) theory of engagement and the Job Demands–Resources (JD-R) model (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). We conclude that there continues to be a lack of consensus on the meaning of employee engagement as well as concerns about the validity of the most popular measure of employee engagement. Furthermore, it is difficult to make causal conclusions about the antecedents and consequences of employee engagement due to a number of research limitations. Thus, there remain many unanswered questions and much more to do if we are to develop a science and theory of employee engagement.
The present study utilized sexual harassment, organizational climate, and engagement theories to articulate a process model of how perceived anti–sexual harassment practices and sexual harassment incidents relate to affective commitment and intentions to stay. The authors hypothesized that perceived anti–sexual harassment practices and sexual harassment incidents would relate to employee engagement, both directly and indirectly through psychological distress. Moreover, psychological distress and employee engagement were hypothesized to mediate the relationships of perceived anti–sexual harassment practices and sexual harassment incidents with affective commitment and intentions to stay. Study findings supported these hypotheses within two subsamples of female (N = 3,283 and 3,207) and male (N = 3,460 and 3,300) military personnel. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.