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Striking a Balance Between Work Effort and Resource Regeneration

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Abstract and Figures

In this chapter an individual mechanism of sustainable work performance as opposed to high work performance is explored – theoretically and empirically. It is stated that sustainable work performance is a joint function of high resource levels (energy, time and competences) and the allocation of resources which also allows for resource regeneration. Building on Conservation of Resource theory (COR; Hobfoll, 1989) and proactive work behavior literature (cf. Parker et al. 2006) the notion of employee vitality is discussed as a representation of the dynamic interplay between employee vigor and proactivity. An important feature is that high vitality employees can overcome the resource constraints to sustainable work performance over time. They can perform sustainably because high effort expenditure does not drain their resources but is likely to protect and help employees to regenerate them. In order to test some of the assumptions of employee vitality as a sustainable work performance concept, analyses of survey data from nearly 2,000 Dutch employees give empirical support for the assumptions. We close the chapter with an elaboration on employee vitality as a touchstone for Sustainable HRM activities and discuss the role of HRM in providing the right circumstances for employee vitality to occur.
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Striking a Balance Between Work Effort and
Resource Regeneration
Vitality as a Sustainable Performance Concept
Luc Dorenbosch
Contents
1 Introduction .................................................................................. 156
2 The Building Blocks of Sustainable Work Performance . . ................................ 158
2.1 The Amount of Work Effort .......................................................... 159
2.2 The Allocation of Work Effort .. . . . . ................................................. 160
2.3 The Type of Work Effort .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160
3 Resource Constraints to Sustainable Work Performance . . . . .............................. 161
3.1 Time Constraints: Tensions Between Task and Contextual Performance . . . . . . . . . . 162
3.2 Energy Constraints: Tensions Between Effort Expenditure and Health . . . . . . . . . . . . 163
3.3 Competence Constraints: Tensions Between Current and Future Skills ............ 163
4 Overcoming the Barriers: Employee Vitality as a Sustainable Work Performance
Concept ...................................................................................... 164
4.1 Vigor ................................................................................... 165
4.2 Proactivity ....... ...................................................... ................ 166
4.3 The Interplay Between Vigor and Proactivity ....................................... 166
5 Employee Vitality: A Touchstone for Sustainable HRM? ................................. 168
5.1 Vitality ................................................................................. 169
5.2 Passivity .. . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . 169
5.3 Forced Proactivity ..................................................................... 169
5.4 Comfortable Energy ................................................................... 170
6 The Dynamics of Employee Vitality: Some Empirical Insights .......................... 170
Perpetuum Mobile: The desire to develop a system of Perpetual Motion is an old quest which
according to the laws of physics is one of the impossibilities of nature. Perpetual motion
implies that continuously more new energy is created than the amount of energy that is invested
in the actual motion. For physicists this is an infeasible phenomenon (business economists
might just call the phenomena profit). Nevertheless, for ages, scientists have sought to
mechanically generate this “free” energy in experiments with so-called perpetua mobilia.
However, it was not until 1996 that the Norwegian polymath Reidar Finsrud actually did
manage to build a device that keeps an iron ball in ongoing motion – although theoretical
physicists are still skeptical of the basis of this device. Time will, literally, tell who is right.
L. Dorenbosch (*)
TNO|Research Institute for Work and Employment, Hoofddorp, The Netherlands
e-mail: luc.dorenbosch@tno.nl
I. Ehnert et al. (eds.), Sustainability and Human Resource Management,
CSR, Sustainability, Ethics & Governance, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-37524-8_7,
©Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014
155
6.1 Employee Vitality, over Hours and Need for Recovery . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171
6.2 Employee Vitality and Work Unit Performance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 173
7 Conclusions and Recommendations for Sustainable HRM . . . . . . . . . . . ..................... 174
7.1 Formulate an Explicit Sustainable HRM Strategy . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176
7.2 Monitor Sustainable Work Performance at the Work Unit Level . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176
7.3 Recognize and Manage Job-Specific Resource Constraints ......................... 177
References ................ ....................................................... ................ 178
Abstract In this chapter an individual mechanism of sustainable work perfor-
mance as opposed to high work performance is explored – theoretically and
empirically. It is stated that sustainable work performance is a joint function of
high resource levels (energy, time and competences) and the allocation of resources
which also allows for resource regeneration. Building on Conservation of
Resource theory (COR; Hobfoll, 1989) and proactive work behavior literature
(cf. Parker et al. 2006) the notion of employee vitality is discussed as a representa-
tion of the dynamic interplay between employee vigor and proactivity. An impor-
tant feature is that high vitality employees can overcome the resource constraints to
sustainable work performance over time. They can perform sustainably because
high effort expenditure does not drain their resources but is likely to protect and
help employees to regenerate them. In order to test some of the assumptions of
employee vitality as a sustainable work performance concept, analyses of survey
data from nearly 2,000 Dutch employees give empirical support for the
assumptions. We close the chapter with an elaboration on employee vitality as a
touchstone for Sustainable HRM activities and discuss the role of HRM in
providing the right circumstances for employee vitality to occur.
1 Introduction
The challenge of managing human resources sustainably is possibly much like the
challenge of building a perpetuum mobile. How can organizations and HRM ensure
that employees themselves will “keep the ball rolling” now and in the future? How
can – simultaneously – HRM support employees in regenerating their resources and
their ‘vitality’ that they need for continuous work performance without burning
themselves out? These questions relate to one of the core issues in this handbook:
how can HRM create sustainable economic value for companies or organizations
over the long term without destroying natural, social or human capital (e.g.,
Elkington 1999)?
Managing the work and organizational facets that unleash and support the
optimal expenditure of employee energy is a key issue for (human resource)
managers in the attainment of team and organizational goals. It is of particular
importance in times where individual, team and organizational goals shift towards a
more sustainable development in organizations (see chapter “Sustainability and HRM”).
In recent years, more and more researchers in the emerging trend towards positive
psychology or positive organizational behavior focus on human strengths and
optimal functioning rather than on weaknesses and malfunctioning (Seligman and
156 L. Dorenbosch
Csikszentmihalyi 2000). As organizations seek to know if its workforce has what
it takes to stay competitive and survive the demands of present day market
dynamics, the assessment of those critical employee attributes that could make
a competitive difference is an increasing object of practical and academic investi-
gation (Ilgen and Pulakos 1999; Frese and Fay 2001; Sonnentag and Frese 2002).
At the same time, organizations and HRM have started to understand that it is
not sufficient to be competitive in order to ensure long-term viability (see chapter
Sustainability and HRM”) but that there is also a need for resource regeneration
and renewal (e.g. health) at the individual employee level.
Focusing on human strength and functioning has led to various conceptua-
lizations and measures for positive psychological constructs that tap the employee’s
high-performance potential. Notable are, for instance, ‘work engagement’
(Schaufeli and Bakker 2004), ‘thriving at work’ (Spreitzer et al. 2005), ‘organiza-
tional energy’ (Kunze and Bruch 2010), ‘vigor at work’ (Little et al. 2010) or ‘zest
(for work)’ (Peterson et al. 2009). What these constructs have in common is that
they all contain an element that specifically focuses on the mental and physical
energy that employees individually or as a work group “feel bursting” and are
willing to invest in their jobs. Also, all of these constructs have been found to
empirically relate to various individual work performance outcomes. For instance, a
longitudinal study by Van Veldhoven et al. (2009) among more than 3,000
employees of a large Dutch bank showed that employees with high energy during
the day received higher individual performance-ratings by their supervisors in the
following year. This suggests that employee energy is a valuable human resource to
contemporary organizations.
It is, however, also a vulnerable human resource. Or as Yeo and Neal (2004)put
it: a “limited-capacity” resource. People can run out of energy on a daily basis, just
like they can run out of energy over a longer period of time. As “high” work
performance relies on the energy resources employees invest in their work,
performing well can come at the expense of feeling well when with the effort put
in the job employee energy gets drained instead of recovered or regenerated
(Meijman and Mulder 1998). In the distinction made between sustainable work
systems and intensive work systems the regeneration of resources instead of
draining them is already regarded a key difference (Docherty et al. 2002). This
difference poses that possessing enough energy resources is necessary to perform
highly in the short run, but that this is not a guarantee for sustainable, long-term
work performance or for maintaining long-term human sustainability (see also
chapters “Sowing Seeds for Sustainability in Work Systems” and “Fostering Cor-
porate Sustainability” in this volume).
Therefore, in this chapter the notion of “sustainable” work performance is
explored and contrasted with more elaborated notions of high work performance.
What are the differences between these concepts and what are implications for the
emerging field of Sustainable HRM? In this chapter we will specifically focus on
employee vitality as a sustainable work performance concept which is potentially
useful for understanding how the dynamic interplay between employee well-being
Striking a Balance Between Work Effort and Resource Regeneration 157
and performance contributes to endurable organizational effectiveness and long-
term viability. Employee vitality, in this chapter, includes mental energy as well as
physical energy.
2 The Building Blocks of Sustainable Work Performance
A key characteristic of sustainability is the notion of regeneration (see also chapter
Sowing Seeds for Sustainability in Work Systems”). For the regeneration of
human energy resources, recovery or recuperation is regarded as essential.
Maintaining high levels of effort expenditure at work requires off-job recovery
time and regular psychological detachment from work in order to “undo” the strain
reactions after a hard day of work. Full recovery means that employees (once again)
have a maximum amount of energy available for the next day, which enables
employees to show high performance over a longer period of time. For instance,
a recent diary study by Binnewies et al. (2009) finds that employees show higher
work performance on days when they had recovered well in the morning than on
days when they had recovered poorly. But if full employee recovery is all there is to
sustain an energetic high performance workforce, HRM could suffice through the
deployment of work leisure activities and sending employees home on time to
enable them to have sufficient rest.
However, to the extent that energy expenditure at work is misguided and
allocated towards wrong things, then high work performance is likely to suffer.
Therefore, Beal et al. (2005) already state that, besides the level of (energy)
resources available, performance is a ‘joint function of resource level and resource
allocation’. The issue of resource allocation is central to the HRM discipline. It
deals with the question of whether resources at the discretion of employees are
effectively deployed in the work process and add value to the organization. It is
about what people do with their resources, i.e. how they behave. In the high
performance work systems literature (HPWSs; Appelbaum et al. 2000) the key
behavioral construct that is regarded to intermediate the link between HPWSs and
competitive advantage is discretionary work effort. Discretionary effort
encompasses those aspects of work behavior that employees contribute at their
discretion which cannot be easily placed under formal management control and go
beyond what is minimally required (Bailey 1993). Appelbaum et al. (2000,p.26)
state that for organizations it is of relevance to get ‘employees to apply their
creativity and imagination to their work and to exploit their intimate and often
unconscious knowledge of the work processes’. However, tensions may arise when
employees who choose to engage in this “extra-mile” effort overtax and harm their
resources (mental and physical energy) to a point that the employee cannot easily
recover their workplace effectiveness (see also chapters “Human-Resources Mind-
fulness” and “Paradox as a Lens for Theorizing Sustainable HRM”).
158 L. Dorenbosch
The dilemma for managing human resources sustainably is clear. Only focusing
on the positive psychological well-being and energy levels of employees does not
guarantee high work performance. And only focusing on high work performance
does not guarantee that the high levels of energy and finally also employee health
can be sustained over time. Just as only focusing on the allocation of resources
towards discretionary work effort might cause the drainage of energy resources
which undermines future high work performance. For high work performance to be
sustainable work performance, this chapter argues that expenditure of work effort
itself should be sustainable and regenerative and lead to a surplus of new resources
ready to be invested. Just like the principles of a perpetuum mobile. To understand
what sustainable work performance might look like, we first elaborate the concept
of work effort as an essential building block of work performance. Employees who
invest greater effort into their work are likely to increase the possibility that they
will contribute organizational labor productivity and competitiveness (Brown and
Leigh 1996). However, work effort is an ambiguous term and both hard to define
and to measure. In general, work effort is referred to as the level or amount of
resources that employees expend in their job (Yeo and Neal 2004). At the same
time, a stream of work psychological literature deals with a multitude of work
performance concepts that point to desirable work behaviours towards specific
performance domains (like organizational citizenship behavior, creativity, innova-
tive work behaviours or personal initiative, for example, for a sustainable develop-
ment) that employee’s can engage in. To clarify the linkage between work effort,
resources and contemporary work performance concepts, we distinguish between
(1) the amount, (2) the allocation and (3) the type of work effort.
2.1 The Amount of Work Effort
Green (2001) distinguishes between two categories of work effort: ‘extensive’ and
‘intensive’ effort. Extensive effort refers to the time spent at work (i.e. the amount
of working hours one attends). Meanwhile, intensive effort refers to the intensity of
work carried out during that time of work. One could think of the mental and
physical energy an employee expends in his work (Brown and Leigh 1996; Blau
1993). The difference between these categories of work effort is that an employee
working 8 h could expend less energy than an employee could in 6 h, depending on
the “porosity” of the working day. This refers to the extent to which a working day
has gaps between tasks during which the body and mind rests (Green 2001).
Together, time and energy are considered as basic (human) resources available to
employees among whom the investment in work is within the discretion of
employees. In addition to the time and energy resources, employees also bring
intellectual resources like knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) (Kanfer and
Ackerman 2004; Green 2001). Based on these three resources, high work effort
expenditure would constitute ‘high’ work performance when employees work long
hours in which a maximum of energy is expended while making full use of the
employee’s intellectual resources. However, from a sustainable work performance
Striking a Balance Between Work Effort and Resource Regeneration 159
perspective, the question is whether and when working long hours with a maximum
of energy allows for employee resource regeneration and for maintaining employee
health.
2.2 The Allocation of Work Effort
Although a greater investment of time, energy and KSAs is considered to relate to
higher work performance, this does not necessarily mean that maximum perfor-
mance is achieved. Green (2001) states that maximum employee productivity is
also affected by organizational efficiency. For example, employees who are
motivated to invest their time, energy and KSAs into their job can increase their
task performance, but when important aspects of the work organization (e.g.,
ordering of tasks, communication, problem solving) are inefficient, job perfor-
mance will not reach optimal levels. In contemporary work settings, increasing
the efficiency of internal work processes or procedures are not regarded as sole a
responsibility of management. Such efficiency is also associated with the “contex-
tual” employee performance dimension in the widely accepted distinction between
task and contextual job performance (Griffin et al. 2000; Sonnentag and Frese
2002). Other than the resources that are expended on formal and in-role core job
requirements (task performance), contextual performance refers to non job-specific
or extra-role effort which ‘does not contribute to the technical core but which
support the organizational, social, and psychological environment in which organi-
zational goals are pursued’ (Sonnentag and Frese 2002; p. 6). With regard to the
effort-work performance relationship, it is likely that high performance would
require allocation of resources towards tasks and contextual activities. For sustain-
able work performance, this raises the question how resources need to be allocated
also towards employee regeneration and renewal of resources.
2.3 The Type of Work Effort
Arguing that a high amount or high level of resources directed towards task and
contextual domains constitutes the building blocks of high work performance does
not specify the type of effort and specific employee behaviours that would be
relevant in contemporary organizations. With reference to task performance one
could think of putting in either firm-specific skills or knowledge or generic skills
(oral, writing or organizing skills) to do a better job. With regard to contextual
performance, Sonnentag and Frese (2002) make a distinction between (1)
“stabilizing” employee behavior which primarily aims at the smooth functioning
of the organization as it is at the present moment and (2) “proactive” work behavior
that focuses on self-initiated, future-oriented actions that aims to change and
improve the work situation (procedures and processes) or oneself (Crant 2000;
160 L. Dorenbosch
Parker et al. 2006; Frese and Fay 2001). These proactive work behaviours adhere
the most to the notion of discretionary work effort as applying creativity and
imagination to the work and utilizing the intimate and often unconscious knowl-
edge of the work process (Appelbaum et al. 2000). This view challenges the
traditional view of effective employees being “satisfied, committed organizational
citizens”, while they are not necessarily able to deal with the complexity and
continuous changes in contemporary jobs and organizations (Frese and Fay 2001;
Parker et al. 2006). Proactive employees would be more effective in modern work
situations in which job structures get more ambiguous, more loosely defined and
malleable, which leaves little or no structure to which one can adapt (Murphy and
Jackson 1999; Parker et al. 1998). It is within these uncertain and complex work
situations that an employee’s proactive approach to work helps to identify the
optimal execution of present tasks and the long-term needs of the organization
(see also chapter “Sowing Seeds for Sustainability in Work Systems”).
In sum, contemporary research literature brings forth several aspects of work
performance as a joint function of resource level and resource allocation. On the
one hand, it deals with the amount or level of resources (time, energy and KSAs) the
employee can and is willing to invest. On the other hand, it would matter whether
employees allocate resources not only to formal tasks, but also to the work
contextual domain in order raise performance levels that are suboptimal due to
social or work- organizational inefficiencies. To the degree employees do so
proactively is regarded as important when work situations become more complex
and ambiguous. Altogether, this section makes clear that high work performance
requires higher resource levels and a certain resource allocation. Nevertheless, it is
argued that to the extent to which high work performance constitutes sustainable
work performance is dependent on sufficient resource regeneration. For work
performance to be sustainable, we argue that the allocation of resources itself
should allow for resource regeneration, because resource levels are vulnerable to
certain constraints that go along with high performance over time. Three of these
constraints are discussed in the next section.
3 Resource Constraints to Sustainable Work Performance
With regard to the amount of time, energy and KSAs, as the three important
resources, to the employee’s discretion, employees can allocate a certain amount
of these resources to the task or contextual domain either by spending effort on it,
for instance, in-role skill usage, organizational citizenship behaviors or take proac-
tive action towards their work and/or career.
However, time and energy are considered to be “limited-capacity resources”
(Yeo and Neal 2004; Hockey 1997), which means that these resources are naturally
scarce and constrain individuals in their allocation of time and energy among task
and contextual activities. Looking at daily job performance, employees have
contractual work hours and incidental overwork hours to expend which competes
Striking a Balance Between Work Effort and Resource Regeneration 161
with the hours spend on their private life and sleeping (Bergeron 2007). The energy
an employee can expend competes with physical and psychological costs (e.g.,
fatigue, exhaustion) that are associated with effort expenditure (Meijman and
Mulder 1998). Furthermore, with regard to the investment of KSAs, current knowl-
edge and skills are also limited as they run the risk of becoming obsolete. Especially
in contemporary work settings, rapid strategic and technological developments
require a constant update of employee skills and knowledge (Sennett 2006).
Therefore, the current level of intellectual resources competes with future intellec-
tual requirements. It also needs to be taken into account that from a sustainability
perspective, time is a non-regenerative resource but energy and competences are
regenerative. We now discuss three resource constraints to the possession and
effective allocation of a maximum amount of resources, which might threaten the
sustainable work performance over time:
Time constraints
Energy constraints
Competence constraints
3.1 Time Constraints: Tensions Between Task and
Contextual Performance
Bergeron (2007) addressed tradeoffs between task and contextual performance as
individuals are constrained by time. Bergeron argues: ‘For individuals constrained
by time, it is unlikely that they will show both high task performance and contextual
performance. Rather, resource allocation forces a choice such that most individuals
will focus on one activity at the expense of the other’ (p. 1084). A synthesis of
research findings indicate that managers give relatively greater weight to task
performance than contextual performance in determining overall performance
evaluations, rewards and to lesser extent career advancement. Spending time on
contextual performance might be good for the organization but costly for the
individual. By choosing to allocate time to contextual activities like helping others
or volunteering in extra-role activities, employees do not choose to invest their
limited amount of time in task performance. Therefore, employees might risk a loss
of personal value because, in comparison to task performance, contextual perfor-
mance is worth “less” to individual employees. Additionally, in a sample of air
traffic controllers, Griffin et al. (2000) found that the difficulty of the job constrains
the allocation of effort to contextual performance. They find that a difficult job or
assignment requires more of the employee’s attention (e.g. time) directed towards
the task performance domain. In sum, for employees to engage in high performance
(task and contextual performance) they will face certain tensions due to the
limitations in the amount of time there is to expend. Contextual performance can
be costly to the individual, which might force him/her to allocate effort to task
162 L. Dorenbosch
performance at the expense of contextual performance. If an organization is inter-
ested in both high task and contextual performance, the question is how employees
can be supported in coping with the trade-offs and tensions.
3.2 Energy Constraints: Tensions Between Effort
Expenditure and Health
In a similar vein, the allocation of energy to both high task and contextual
performance is also constrained. As high employee performance requires a maxi-
mum amount of effort, it also requires greater energy investments which bring into
play the role the physiological and psychological costs (e.g., fatigue or anxiety) that
come with the expenditure of effort (Meijman and Mulder 1998; Fay and Sonnentag
2002). The tension entails that to the extent that maximum performance overtaxes
the amount of energy an employee possesses, the maximal amount of energy an
employee can expend gets drained and gradually drops over time. Individuals who
perform at the maximum while feeling fatigued drain their energy resources to a
point that they may experience severe health problems such as high levels of job
stress or burnout. The COR-theory (Hobfoll 1989) states that people want to
conserve a healthy amount of their physical and psychological resources and
react to the energy drainage by lowering their effort expenditure towards only
those in-role activities that are minimally expected from them (Bakker et al.
2004). Consequently, this often results in a withdrawal from effort expenditure
towards extra-role activities. Over time, when performance demands keep draining
employee energy resources, a greater withdrawal (absenteeism) or a total with-
drawal from effort expenditure (quitting the job) might follow (Schnake 2007).
Hence, energy resources constrain the maximal amount of effort expenditure and
can negatively affect contextual and task performance to the extent energy reserves
are overtaxed. In order to allow sustainable work performance, the question is
therefore, how tensions between effort expenditure and health can be overcome by
the employee in the way that he/she will have energy and resources for work
performance in the future.
3.3 Competence Constraints: Tensions Between Current and
Future Skills
A last constrain to high performance is that a maximum expenditure of
competences in the job is no guarantee of endurable high performance. More
often, skills and knowledge need continuous updating to match the organizational
requirements. Therefore, intellectual resources are less and less stable resources
which one can rely on to perform well in the future. Sennett (2006) expresses the
Striking a Balance Between Work Effort and Resource Regeneration 163
tension between current and future employee performance in a phenomenon called
the “specter of uselessness”, which refers to the continuous threat to employees that
their current skills devaluate and will not serve them for life. Sennett (2006, p. 95)
argues that ‘skill extinction has sped up not only in technical work, but also in
medicine, law, and various crafts. One estimate for computer repairmen is that they
will have to relearn their skills three times in the course of their working lifetime;
the figure is about the same for doctors. That is, when you acquire a skill, you do not
have a durable possession’. Given the tension between current competences and
those needed in the future, endurable high employee performance is constrained up
to the point that employees are unable to acquire new up-to-date skills and knowl-
edge. The question is therefore, how organizations and HRM can support their high
performers in allowing the life-long or career-long development of skills.
The specifics of the three resource constraints are essential to the difference
between high and sustainable work performance. For keeping the ‘iron ball’ in
perpetual motion, employees must be able and willing to allocate their resources in
such way that they are expended to the maximum on the work at hand while
overcoming the barriers that go with the high expenditure of resources. Only then
is a surplus of resources likely to follow from high work performance which can
flow back to the employee’s own resource pool allowing for a cycle of sustainable
work performance to occur. This sounds easier than it is to achieve, also when
taking into account common life changes in the careers of employees and work-life
balance issues that accompany those changes over time. To dig further into the
attributes of employees that are able create such personal cycles or spirals of
sustainable work effort the next section elaborates on the notion of ‘employee
vitality’ as a sustainable work performance concept.
4 Overcoming the Barriers: Employee Vitality as a
Sustainable Work Performance Concept
As summarized in Fig. 1, the crux of sustainable work performance is the maximal
amount, allocation and type of resources that (a) would be effective and discretion-
ary for organizations in a contemporary work context and (b) are adequately
regenerated despite the fact that time, energy and competence resources are limited
by short-term (work time boundaries and energy drainage) and more long-term
(skill extinction/obsolescence) constraints. Notice that the empirical work perfor-
mance research in which discretionary employee behaviours/attitudes are found to
benefit organizational performance rarely takes into account the possible perfor-
mance constraints over time. As it is now, HRM research has concentrated on the
management of short-term high work performance and far less on the management
of sustainable work performance (Pfeffer 2010). As such, high work performance is
not always sustainable work performance. However, sustainable work performance
is preferably in line with organizational goals and should be considered high and
effective work performance in order to create both social and economic value.
164 L. Dorenbosch
Thinking of employees that can engage in high performance durably, the
“vigorous and proactive” employee is distinguished from the “satisfied and
committed organizational citizen”. Both characterizations do not have to fully
exclude each other. However, the rationale presented so far depicts that, within
the backdrop of an increasing dynamic work context, high energy levels and a
proactive type of resource allocation are more salient employee attributes. From
here, the combination of vigor and proactivity is characterized as employee vitality.
Although it is not claimed that the exact definition of vitality would encompass both
aspects, it adheres to Ryan and Frederick’s (1997) understanding of vitality as a
“dynamic reflection of well-being”. More specifically, they state that vitality
reflects the feeling of possessing energy together with feeling that one is the origin
of action. In this representation, vitality depicts a human attribute of aliveness and
vigor in which a person has the control over one’s energy to initiate action. This
indicates that vitality is more than just feeling energetic – it also involves that
someone initiates to do something with the energy available to oneself (i.e.,
proactivity). Translated to the work context, work-related vigor and proactivity
are proposed to give more insight in the dynamics of vitality as a sustainable work
performance concept. To elaborate on this, first, the constructs of vigor and
proactivity are described in more detail. Second, the performance dynamics of
the interplay between vigor and proactivity are discussed.
4.1 Vigor
Occupational health psychology literature differentiates between negative and
positive concepts of employee health and well-being. The most important feature
is that in contrast to (negative) strain-related concepts of health (e.g., illness,
Resource
constraints to
high work
performance
(energy,time &
KSAs)
Effective Resource Allocation
Adequate Resource Regeneration
High
Work
Performance
High
Resource
Levels
Fig. 1 From high work
performance to sustainable
work performance
Striking a Balance Between Work Effort and Resource Regeneration 165
fatigue, anxiety, depression and burn out) positive health includes concepts that go
beyond the mere absence of unwell-being (Warr 1994; Schaufeli and Bakker 2004).
In this view, employee well-being is defined by the presence of positive well-being,
fitness or aliveness (Schaufeli and Bakker 2004; Spreitzer et al. 2005). An element
central to active health constructs such as work engagement and thriving at work, is
the extent to which an employee feels vigorous as opposed to a negative focus on
feeling of being fatigued and exhausted. Maslach et al. (2001, p. 417) refer to the
concept of vigor as ‘high levels of energy and resilience, the willingness to invest
effort in one’s job, the ability to not be easily fatigued, and persistence in the face of
difficulties’. Therefore, at the construct level, employee vigor signifies not only the
availability of energy, but also the willingness to expend energy into work.
4.2 Proactivity
The notion of proactivity entered the organization behavior literature with those
authors who regarded the employee as an active actor in contrast to those who
considered the employee as an object of organizational stimuli and workplace
conditions (Frese and Zapf 1994). Proactive work effort can be directed towards
at least two work-related domains. First, an employee can show job proactivity.
Here one takes initiative towards one’s own activities in the work process in which
they act in a self-starting manner and shows a long-term perspective in order to keep
the work process at an optimum level, also when circumstances change or process
errors occur (Fay and Sonnentag 2002). Second, the employee can show develop-
mental proactivity when one holds a proactive orientation towards one’s own
development within the current job or towards future job requirements or
opportunities (Warr and Fay 2001). This behavior relates to concepts such as
employability orientation (Van Dam 2004)orlearning motivation (Taris, et al.
2003), in which employees actively scan future requirements and seek to gain new
knowledge or approach knowledgeable people to keep one’s own abilities at an
optimum level. Together, job and developmental proactivity constitute core
elements of the employee proactivity concept when briefly defined as ‘self-initiated
and future-oriented action that aims to change and improve the situation or oneself’
(Parker et al. 2006, p. 636).
4.3 The Interplay Between Vigor and Proactivity
In relation to employee proactivity, which signifies the type of resource allocation,
employee vigor encompasses the level of energy resources the employee is willing
to expend at work. From a COR-theory (Hobfoll 1989) perspective, the level of
energy resources can either boost or limit extra effort expenditure such as
proactivity to the extent that employees evaluate this behavior to either benefit or
166 L. Dorenbosch
threaten a minimum (and still healthy) level of energy resources. Two COR
principles play an important role. First, when low on resources, withdrawal from
extra effort expenditure is likely as an employee wants to conserve their health by
sticking to only what is necessary. In contrast, when energy levels are high,
employees are able to ‘risk’ their energy resources on proactive behaviours that
improve the job or themselves, without being devastated by the initial resource loss
that goes with the higher effort expenditure. Another implication is that with the
ability to risk resources, people are more likely to acquire new resources, which
again provides them with higher resource levels that can be risked in the hope of
making further resource gains (Hobfoll and Shirom 2000). This signifies a cycle of
resource gain or a so-called gain spiral. Otherwise, loss spirals entail a situation in
which low-energy employees do not risk their resources to solve or avert the energy
drainers at work. Consequently, this could lead to further resource loss and so on.
How does this apply to the interplay between vigor and proactivity as a mecha-
nism to overcome the barriers to sustainable work performance? Sonnentag (2003)
describes several reasons why vigor supports proactive behavior. Firstly, in line
with COR-theory, the amount of energy is regarded as a key element for employees
to actually expend extra effort on self-starting and persisting in proactive behavior.
Secondly, energetic employees can also accomplish their in-role tasks with less
effort (Hockey 2000), which leaves extra resources to be spent on extra-role
proactivity. Conversely, employee proactivity is also expected to restore and
regenerate resource levels. For instance, Fay and Sonnentag (2002) propose that
job proactivity, by solving operational and process inefficiencies, could actually
save time and energy needed for high performance. Additionally, developmental
proactivity by actively upgrading one’s skills and knowledge could also help to
reduce the extra energy and time needed for difficult task performance that Griffin
et al. (2000) found to come at the expense of contextual performance. With better
skills and knowledge difficult tasks require less intensive thinking. Otherwise,
instead of reducing the initial resource loss of high work performance or coping
with its demands by increasing time efficiency or skill levels, proactive employees
also seek new resources that fuel the energy one is able to expend. For instance, in a
4-wave longitudinal study by Frese et al. (2007), proactive employees were found
to actively shape their work characteristics which energized them to be proactive
the next year. This is phenomenon is also known as “job crafting”, which refers to
the self-initiated actions employees take to shape, mold or redefine their jobs to
constitute a better match with their needs, aspirations, passions or circumstances
(Wrzesniewski and Dutton 2001).
In sum, showing proactivity supports high work performance as well as the
employee’s preservation and regeneration of new energy, but can only healthily
occur under the condition that one has enough energy resources to expend. Hence,
with regard to the concept of employee vitality, a reciprocal relationship between
vigor and proactivity can be expected. As a consequence this does not presume a
one-way causal relationship between vigor and proactivity, but regards them as also
mutually supportive components of which the interplay signifies employee vitality
as a sustainable work performance concept.
Striking a Balance Between Work Effort and Resource Regeneration 167
5 Employee Vitality: A Touchstone for Sustainable HRM?
Turning to the implications for Sustainable HRM, the following sections argue that
the employee vitality concept can function as a touchstone for Sustainable HRM’s
goal to look after the long-term supply of skilled, healthy and motivated human
resources (Ehnert 2009). How does one know, as an HR manager, that the work-
force is well-equipped to contribute to the organization’s sustained competitive
advantage without running the risk that high organizational performance comes at
the expense of employee well-being, employability and human sustainability?
Taking vigor and proactivity in the workforce as core indicators of employee
vitality sheds some light on this issue. As argued in this chapter, employee vitality
is a sustainable work performance concept which holds the premise that employees,
with vitality, can deal with work performance constraints that they might encounter
in the future. Incorporating employee vitality as a touchstone for HRM discerns that
HRM practices, or decisions that foster employee vitality, could be regarded as
Sustainable HRM activities – just like organizations measure their degree of
ecological sustainability of their organizational processes by their ‘carbon
footprint’.
In testing this assumption, several gradations of sustainable work performance
are classified in four different categories to the extent that employees score higher/
lower on either vigor or proactivity (shown in Fig. 2).
Each quadrant in Fig. 2signifies a temporary category of sustainable work
performance. Quadrants represent different gradations of the sustainability of
work performance. Over time, employees falling into one category can move to
Proactivity High
Vi
g
our Low
Vigour High
Proactivity Low
Fig. 2 A four-category framework of sustainable work performance
168 L. Dorenbosch
another category (depicted by the middle circle). With the dynamics between vigor
and proactivity in mind this is not surprising. Each typical category, however,
signifies different representations of the employee’s resource expenditure and its
consequent risks to their work performance in the long run. Below, each category is
briefly addressed.
5.1 Vitality
High vitality employees have high energy resource levels, which they are willing to
proactively allocate towards job improvements and/or self-development. As
discussed in the previous paragraph, they are more likely to experience gain spirals
in which they see the expenditure of resources also regenerate new resources. They
can risk their resources on extra effort expenditure to gain new resources, without
severely draining their resource levels in terms of health and well-being. All in all,
this is likely, over time, to make high vitality employees more resilient to the
various constraints to high effort expenditure.
5.2 Passivity
In contrast, passivity reflects a category in which vigor is lower and the engagement
in proactive behavior at work happens less often. Passive employees form a
precarious group in the light of the absence of energy resources to effectively
allocate their discretionary resources to their immediate work and proactive
behaviours. Passivity can result in total withdrawal to the extent that the already
lower energy resources are heavily taxed by high or new work demands. This
makes passive employees vulnerable to organizational dynamics over time as they
are less likely to engage in proactive behaviours in order to improve or adapt to their
work situation.
5.3 Forced Proactivity
In contrast to vitality and passivity, an in-between category represents a situation in
which employees are less vigorous but keep expending effort on proactive work
behaviours. Labeled as ‘forced’ proactivity, employees experience a decline in
vigor which forces them to increase the effort to regenerate their vigor by making
proactive changes in the work situation or oneself. As consequence, forced
proactivity signifies incidences in which employees risk more resources than they
can healthily expend. In this struggle for resources one can lose extra resources to
the point that an employee gives up and slips into a state of passivity. Conversely, if
Striking a Balance Between Work Effort and Resource Regeneration 169
forced proactivity is eventually successful in terms of more resource gains than
losses, one is able to walk away from the fight with vitality. Until that point forced
proactivity is considered “risky business”.
5.4 Comfortable Energy
The last quadrant represents employees that are highly vigorous but to a lower
extent expend their effort on proactive behaviours at work. Here, employees are
characterized by so-called comfortable energy. Their availability of energy and
willingness to expend energy is fuelled and preserved by the current job
circumstances with less anticipation to future job or skill requirements. This
makes it likely that a proportion of the comfortable energy is not expended to attain
constant optimal levels of performance. Energy is preserved by not risking it,
leading to sufficient but not necessarily high work performance. It is questionable
whether being employees high on comfortable energy stands the test, over time, to
sustainably perform in dynamic and turbulent work contexts.
The four different gradations of sustainable work performance are distinguished
by placing the level of vigor in juxtaposition to the degree of proactive work
behaviours. This underlines the chapters’ notion of sustainable work performance
as a joint function of resource levels and the allocation of resources to work
activities that allow for the regeneration of resource levels. As a touchstone for
Sustainable HRM practices, employees can be monitored in belonging to each of
these categories through the combined measurement of their levels of vigor and
proactivity. In the next section, some empirical insights are presented with regard to
the validity and relevance of this four-category framework in relation to work unit
performance and employee well-being.
6 The Dynamics of Employee Vitality: Some Empirical
Insights
This section draws on our own cross-sectional survey data from 1,966 Dutch
employees. Employee survey data were collected (before the economic crisis)
between May 2006 and February 2007 in 112 work units from a total of 13 Dutch
organizations. Organizations were from a diversity of sectors, including for
instance, health care (hospital, child care), industry (mobile phone repair, technical
support and construction), service sector (IT services, security services), (semi)
government (civil service, customs) and education (elementary schools). For fur-
ther details see Dorenbosch (2009) or Van Veldhoven and Dorenbosch (2008).
Two issues with regard employee vitality as a sustainable performance concept
are elaborated upon. First, are high vitality employees more able to expend effort
without draining their energy than employees categorized otherwise? In other
170 L. Dorenbosch
words, can the employee vitality concept be validated by the outcome of employees
with high vitality and ability to perform well without running the health risk of
becoming fatigued? Second, what are the indications that work units in which
employees score high on vitality are better performing than those where work
unit members fall primarily in the other three categories? In other words, is the
vitality of work unit members economically relevant to work unit effectiveness?
6.1 Employee Vitality, over Hours and Need for Recovery
A key to sustainable work performance is whether high vitality employees
(operationalized as vigorous and proactive employees) are able to expend resources
without draining them. Hereto, based on the joint function of resource levels and
resource allocation, employees were categorized in four groups characterized by
higher/lower levels of vigor in combination with showing more/less proactive work
behavior.
The vigor-scale consists of two dimensions. The first dimension, the availability
of energy, taps the employee’s feeling of energy during the whole work day
(e.g., ‘At the beginning of a working day I have plenty of energy’, and ‘By the
end of the working day I can still adequately concentrate on my work’). The second
dimension, the willingness to invest energy, measures the employee’s absence
of a personal resistance to invest in their job (tasks) was tapped (e.g., ‘I have to
continually overcome personal resistance in order to do my work’). Here, a
higher score means less resistance and more willingness to invest effort in the
current job.
The proactivity-scale also exists of two dimensions. First, job proactivity reflects
the extent to which employees initiate new ways of working and solve problems
when work processes contain inefficiencies (e.g., ‘In my work, I make suggestions
to improve the way we work’; ‘When work methods or procedures are not effective,
I try to do something about it’). The second dimension, developmental proactivity,
taps the degree to which employees set challenging goals and actively look for
situations in which they can expand their skills and knowledge was tapped (‘In my
work I set myself challenging goals’, ‘In my work, I search for people from whom I
can learn something’). Also, the degree to which employees are concerned with and
self-assess future skills and knowledge needs was included in the measure (‘I think
about how I can keep doing a good job in the future’ and ‘With regard to my skills
and knowledge, I see to it that I can cope with changes in my work’). Both scales
had good reliability (see Dorenbosch (2009) for details).
Employees scoring either higher/more or lower/less on both scales were deter-
mined by using median-splits on scale-means for vigor and proactivity. In accor-
dance with the four-category framework (Fig. 2), the categories were labeled as
passivity,comfortable energy,forced proactivity or vitality. Table 1shows the
differences between these employee groups with regard to their investment of
time resources (average over hours per week) and the extent to which they indicate
Striking a Balance Between Work Effort and Resource Regeneration 171
that they feel fatigued after work (need for recovery). The average number of over
hours was included with an ordinal measure consisting of four categories (1 ¼no
over hours; 4 ¼10 or more over hours per week). The need for recovery-measure
(Van Veldhoven and Broersen 2003) taps the frequency of showing after work
fatigue symptoms indicating that employees did not fully recover from the effects
of sustained effort during the working day (e.g., ‘I find it difficult to concentrate in
my free time after work’ and ‘When I get home from work, I need to be left in peace
for a while’).
The differences between the groups are in line with what was expected. High
vitality employees seem to be able to invest more time without draining their energy
levels after work. In contrast, those employees who show forced proactivity also
report to making above-mean over hours (not significant), but also show an above-
mean need for recovery. Employees characterized by comfortable energy during
work make less over hours as well as they feel less need for the recovery of energy
after work. Those characterized as passive employees show a different pattern as
they also undertake less over hours but still show above-mean levels of after work
fatigue. As theorized in previous paragraphs, passive employees who lack energetic
resources run the risk of greater energy loss as these employees are also more likely
to withdraw from extra activities to regain energy or protect against energy drain-
age. In contrast, high vitality employees have more energy resources at their
Table 1 Over hours per week and need for recovery across four gradations of sustainable work
performance (n ¼1.966)
Means are tested with a t-test (horizontal comparisons). The figure depicts above-mean and below-
mean difference scores. Difference score significance:
*
p<0.05;
**
p<0.01;
***
p<0.001
172 L. Dorenbosch
discretion and therefore are more likely to accept or seek opportunities to risk
resources (in terms of over hours) in order to obtain new resources (Hobfoll and
Shirom 2000).
6.2 Employee Vitality and Work Unit Performance
The second issue concerns the question of whether high vitality employees work in
high-performing organizations or work units. In other words, is vitality among
employees likely to contribute to better work and business performance? Table 2
shows the results for employees who are in work units of which the unit managers
indicated that it was performing at the lower-end, on average, or higher end of
expectations. In a subset of 53 work units which employed a total of 764 employees,
each unit manager was interviewed asking them the extent to which (1) internal/
external customers or clients are positive about the work unit, (2) work unit goals
are attained, (3) the financial situation is good and (4) the competitive position is
Table 2 Proportion of employees in different gradations of sustainable work performance
(n ¼764) across low/average/high performing work units (n ¼53)
Percentages are column percentages, and are tested with the Pearson Chi-square test (horizontal
comparisons). The figure depicts above-mean and below mean difference scores. Difference score
significance:
*
p<0.05;
**
p<0.01;
***
p<0.001
Striking a Balance Between Work Effort and Resource Regeneration 173
strong. Also, an overall performance score was included in the measure, which
together formed a reliable scale. Based on the scale means for subjective unit
performance, the bottom and top 25 % performing units were identified, which
led to the classification of work units in three categories (including the middle
50 %). By combining individual employee data with unit manager data, Table 2
depicts to what extent higher/lower performing work units have employees working
for them who are in different categories (using a similar median-split procedure as
in the previous paragraph). The percentages indicate the positive or negative
deviance from the average proportion of employees divided over the three work
unit performance categories.
Of the total proportion of employees in low performing units, a significantly
greater number of employees show ‘forced’ proactivity. Otherwise, the number of
high vitality employees in low performing units is significantly less than average. In
contrast, in high performing work units, the proportion of high vitality employees is
significantly above average. There are, however, significantly less passive
employees working in high performing units. Furthermore, the proportion of
employees higher on comfortable energy seems to be evenly distributed across
low, average and high performing work units. The cross-sectional data and the
conducted analysis at hand do not allow for causal interpretations of the relationship
between employee vitality and better work unit performance. What it does show is
that high performing work units are more strongly characterized by employee
vitality and less by employee passivity. Additionally, within lower performing
work units there are more incidences of forced proactivity to be found which
discerns the precariousness of proactive behavior when it runs counter to the energy
that employees are healthily able and willing to expend.
With survey data from nearly 2,000 employees, the findings in this section is that
the combination of high vigor and high proactivity links to high effort expenditure
without energy drainage. This finding is in line with the idea that high vitality
employees expend their resources in a way that allows them to regenerate and
perform simultaneously. On top of this finding, in a smaller subset of work units and
employees, it was shown that employee vitality is most common in work units of
which line managers rated the performance to be high – independently from the
employee survey data. This adds to the notion that employee vitality is also relevant
to the operational effectiveness of work units.
7 Conclusions and Recommendations for Sustainable
HRM
This chapter contributes to the emerging literature on Sustainable HRM that
emphasizes the organization’s understanding of the use and misuse of its human
resources (Docherty et al. 2002; Ehnert 2009). Although the term ‘human
resources’ and the management thereof often refers to strategically managing
174 L. Dorenbosch
personnel or headcount as opposed to other organizational resources (e.g. financial
assets, technology, processes and patents) that are owned or controlled by the
organization, this chapter emphasizes the individual human resources such as
time, energy and competences that are owned, controlled and protected by
employees themselves. A key issue this chapter raises is to what extent employee
vitality characterizes employees that manage their own resources in such way that
they attain high performance goals without draining their resources needed for
sustainable work performance.
This chapter expresses the need for a sustainable work performance concept as
the quality of the organization’s human resource pool is in constant flux. Over time,
employee energy could be drained by the high effort expenditure, skills and
knowledge so run the risk of becoming obsolete and time pressures might disrupt
the allocation of resources to the maintenance themselves or the work situation. In
analogy with the search for the principles of perpetual motion caught in the notion
of the perpetuum mobile, this chapter addressed the value of high vitality
employees as vigorous employees who proactively allocate their resources in
such way they can overcome the different resource constraints that can diminish
work performance over time. Employees do this by seeking less resource-draining
ways to conduct their tasks or by upgrading their KSA’s to cope with new job
demands.
An essential component of sustainable work performance is that the expenditure
of discretionary work effort itself allows for resource regeneration. Also based on
the empirical insights from nearly 2,000 Dutch employees, it is claimed that
knowing the level of employee vitality in the workforce can serve as a touchstone
for HRM professionals to evaluate whether HRM activities enable employees to
“keep the iron ball rolling” now and in the future. However, this is only possible if
employees know how to strike a healthy balance. Workholism and overcommit-
ment are indicators of excessive work ambition which eventually will erode the
effectiveness of work effort as employees forget to refuel.
Other than contesting the laws of physics when building a perpetuum mobile, the
dynamics of employee vitality draws on Hobfoll’s Conservation of Resource
(COR) theory (1989) in combination with the research literature on proactive
work behavior. As the gain spirals in COR-theory represent the idea that resource-
ful employees are able to ‘risk’ their resources on extra effort expenditure in order
to gain new resources, proactive work behavior literature discerns the type of extra
work effort that would be valuable to employee and organization while allowing for
resource regeneration. Otherwise, COR-theory also includes the possibility of loss
spirals in which people evaluate their resource levels to be low which makes them
likely to withdraw from extra effort expenditure to protect minimum levels of
health and well-being. By withdrawing, employees conserve a healthy amount of
resources, but they become more vulnerable to turbulences and changes at work as
they do not allocate sufficient resources to proactive adaption or improvement-
making in the work situation. To the extent that employees are unable to deal with
future variability in work performance demands, greater or total withdrawal is
likely to follow. In other words: over time, the vulnerable become more vulnerable,
Striking a Balance Between Work Effort and Resource Regeneration 175
while the resourceful get more resourceful. With these psychological processes
occurring among employees in organizations, HRM professionals seeking to man-
age their human resources sustainably can take the following actions:
7.1 Formulate an Explicit Sustainable HRM Strategy
Sustainable HRM actions are likely to be more effective when backed by an explicit
Sustainable HRM strategy. For instance, for 2020, the new European Union’s
employment strategy emphasizes the notion of sustainable work through, in their
own words, ‘creating working environments that attract and retain people into
employment, improve workers’ and companies’ adaptability, create sustainable
working practices and environments, boost human capital through better training
and skills development while still protecting workers’ health’ (Eurofound 2010,
pp. 1–2). This might just as well reflect the pillars of a Sustainable HRM strategy at
the organizational or work unit level.
What a Sustainable HRM strategy does is communicating the essence of sus-
tainable employment to both managers and employees. This means organizations
reward those work units who are able to strike a balance between work performance
and resource regeneration. In practice this could mean that high-performing work
units are not applauded by top management if high performance is attained at the
cost of employee well-being and development. To follow-up on a strategy it is
important that an organization can monitor the degree of sustainable performance in
work units. In this chapter it is proposed that employee vitality could serve as a
touchstone for Sustainable HRM activities and the Sustainable HRM strategy in
general.
7.2 Monitor Sustainable Work Performance at the Work Unit
Level
The results shown in this chapter indicate that high-performing work units also
employ a higher proportion of high vitality employees than employees in the
categories passivity, comfortable energy and forced proactivity. Monitoring the
proportion of employees falling in each category by surveying their level of vigor
and proactivity in annual employee questionnaires gives HRM and line managers
an indication of the magnitude of high vitality employee per work unit but also the
degree to which the work unit’s performance is at risk. Work units whose perfor-
mance runs a ‘sustainability risk’ are those that employ a high percentage of
employees that score high on passivity and forced proactivity. The sooner these
work units get identified the better, because the expected long-term consequence is
that this will lead to further (dysfunctional) employee withdrawal from the work
176 L. Dorenbosch
process and diminished work unit effectiveness. Combining the employee vigor and
proactivity measures used in this chapter (together with the theoretical underpin-
ning) already shows that integrating instead of separating the information obtained
by these measures provides a better proxy for sustainable work performance.
Having identified those work units at risk provides HRM managers with the
opportunity to effectively target their efforts in support of line managers who are
responsible for the work unit at risk.
7.3 Recognize and Manage Job-Specific Resource
Constraints
In understanding the obstacles that risk groups encounter to healthily attain required
work performance levels, HRM professionals or line managers should acquire
knowledge on the job-specific resource constraints to work performance over
time. This chapter outlined three of them: energy, time and competence constraints
to sustainable work performance. Questions to ask oneself towards each of these
constraints are for instance: What job aspects threaten employee energy to expend
on high performance? What restricts the work time to expend on both task perfor-
mance as well as contextual performance? Are job-specific skills and knowledge
likely to expire or become outdated? HRM’s knowledge of the resource constraints
are likely to lead back to different work practices that could minimize the obstacles
to sustainable work performance. For instance, the mental and physical energies of
employees can be overtaxed by high and heavy work demands when employees
have no control over their energy expenditure (Karasek 1979). To some extent work
time flexibility or job autonomy have been found to provide employees with the
time and task control to avert health and well-being risks of high effort expenditure
(Barnett et al. 1999; Van der Doef and Maes 1999). With regard to the allocation of
time to the immediate tasks and contextual performance, Bergeron (2007) argues
that managers often give relatively greater weight to task performance in perfor-
mance evaluations (and pay), which is likely to diminish the allocation of time to
contextual work performance. Sustainable performance is therefore facilitated by a
good mix of short-term performance goals and long-term developmental goal-
setting by managers. When employees are evaluated on their attainment of short-
term goals and their progress to long-term goals, employees are less afraid that time
spent on contextual job or developmental improvements will eventually backfire in
their performance appraisal. Last, with regard to skills and knowledge for future
performance, managers must think ahead by providing regular on-the-job or
off-the-job training needed to avert the future competence constraints to work
performance. It should be noted that HRM should act out relevant HRM activities
which fit the most to the performance constraint at hand.
This chapter closes with the remark that sustainable work performance is an
issue of time. The empirical analyses presented, in the chapter, do not include
Striking a Balance Between Work Effort and Resource Regeneration 177
longitudinal data and it would be useful to monitor how employees shift from one
category to another over time and how a Sustainable HRM could support employee
vitality and resource regeneration. Monitoring sustainable work performance
concepts such as employee vitality should preferably also be linked to multiple
measures of organizational performance. Integrating sickness absence rates and
employee turnover figures with operational or financial performance information
can show whether high organizational performance objectively comes at the
expense of employee health and well-being. By asking the right questions, moni-
toring the right employee indicators and interpreting the right information,
organizations can open up to the complex matter of managing human resources
sustainably. On the other hand, organizational reality knows many internal and
external disruptions that can cause the perpetuum mobile of work effort to come to a
halt. Recognizing and understanding these disruptions form a first important step
for HRM professionals and line managers to develop a Sustainable HRM strategy.
This chapter shows that the issue of sustainable work performance is theoretically
and empirically not as infeasible as perpetual motion is to theoretical physicists.
Still, more research is needed to fully grasp the fundamentals of Sustainable HRM.
Time will, literally, tell.
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180 L. Dorenbosch
... The second stream of research is based on the concept of vitality at work. Some scholars propose that employee vitality is a crucial aspect of E-SuPer [1,17,18]. In order to test some of the assumptions underlying employee vitality as a dimension of the E-SuPer concept, Dorenbosch [16] analyzed survey data from nearly 2000 Dutch employees, providing empirical support for these assumptions. ...
... In order to test some of the assumptions underlying employee vitality as a dimension of the E-SuPer concept, Dorenbosch [16] analyzed survey data from nearly 2000 Dutch employees, providing empirical support for these assumptions. Building on Conservation of Resources (COR) theory [19,20] and the proactive work behavior literature [21], Dorenbosch [17] found that three resource constraints might threaten E-SuPer over time: time constraints, energy constraints, and competence constraints. That is, employees reported higher levels of sustainable work performance in situations offering them both high resource levels and adequate resource regeneration. ...
... 533). Finally, Dorenbosch [17] defines E-SuPer as "a joint function of high resource levels (energy, time, and competencies) and the allocation of resources which also allows for resource regeneration" (p. 156). ...
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Although the concept of employee sustainable performance has received considerable attention in the practitioner literature, academic research still lacks a clear conceptualization and empirical operationalization of this concept. Defining employee sustainable performance as a regulatory process in which an individual worker enduringly and efficiently achieves particular desired work goals while maintaining a satisfactory level of well-being, this paper describes a corresponding instrument called E-SuPer, and examines its psychometric properties. The E-SuPer instrument was tested and cross-validated using two cross-sectional survey studies (n = 153 and n = 160), focusing on factorial validity, internal consistency, and discriminant and concurrent validity. Psychometric findings across the two samples revealed that the E-SuPer instrument consists of one general factor of ten items with good internal consistency. Discriminant validity and concurrent validity with other relevant constructs (task performance, counterproductive work behavior, and employee vitality) were also confirmed, showing promising results. Finally, theoretical and practical implications, as well as suggestions for future research, are outlined.
... A central employability resource which makes the acquisition of more resources possible is proactivity (Eby et al., 2003;Fugate et al., 2004;Van der Heijde & Van der Heijden, 2006), more specifically developmental proactivity. This is the worker's motivation to learn new things, build relationships with colleagues, explore ways to improve the work (Dorenbosch, 2014), and assess future skill requirements (Van Veldhoven & Dorenbosch, 2008). Developmental proactivity overlaps with several other psychological and social resources, such as the propensity to learn (Fugate et al., 2004), openness to change and curiosity or "career adaptability" (Hirschi, 2012), the inclination to build a (developmental) network (Arthur & Rousseau, 1995;Hirschi, 2012), and to some extent, self-management orientation and ability (Savickas, 2000). ...
... Another reason for making a sharp distinction between professional ability and developmental proactivity is that we sought to avoid the implicit assumption that proactivity is the key to being able to thrive sustainably in the world of work. Such an underlying implicit assumption seems to exist in much of the employability literature, which promotes a variety of proactive behaviours: assessing skill sets, acting on assessments by honing, redirecting, and expanding skills (Waterman et al., 1994), becoming more aware of the marketability of one's skills and presenting them in an effective way (Ghoshal et al., 1999), network building (Arthur & Rousseau, 1995), creating one's own opportunities in an entrepreneurial fashion (Kanter, 1993), and job crafting (Dorenbosch, 2014). ...
... These findings suggest an implication for theory: the role of proactivity should be put into perspective, at least as far as older workers are concerned. In general, proactivity is central to ideas about employability, and current thinking about sustainable organizational performance tends to reflect the same emphasis (Dorenbosch, 2014). However, although proactivity is certainly relevant for older workers, the ability to perform day-to-day work confidently seems critical. ...
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This four-year longitudinal study examines how two facets of employability—professional ability and developmental proactivity—are linked to career events among workers ages 45 years and older. We construe employability as a personal resource that predicts a higher likelihood of experiencing positive career events and a lower likelihood of experiencing negative ones. Results reveal that developmental proactivity leads to a higher probability of internal promotion, while professional ability leads to a lower probability of salary loss, demotion, and unemployment. The findings indicate that these two facets of employability can offer critical insights for understanding the career events of older workers.
... Energy is implied in several organizational theories, but is seldom made explicit (Schippers & Hogenes, 2011). Focusing on vitality and linking it the job demands-resources theory can help to make employee's energy more conceptually explicit and demonstrate how leaders can engage in 'energy management' (Dorenbosch, 2014). Furthermore, by building on insights from organizational and positive psychology, we advance the psychological perspective in public administration (Borst et al., forthcoming;Grimmelikhuijsen, Jilke, Olsen, & Tummers, 2016). ...
... In particular, combinations of high expected contributions and high developmental rewards are theorized to achieve beneficial employee outcomes (Audenaert et al., 2019;Jia et al., 2014). Employees feel more energized by expected contributions, knowing they have sufficient inducements at their disposal within the team (Dorenbosch, 2014). In turn, this larger pool of energy channels into improved performance (Ashkanasy et al., 2009;Tummers et al., 2015). ...
... It also supports the idea that the job demands-resources model represents an energy-driven process (cf. Bakker & Demerouti, 2007, p. 316) and that vitality is a way of measuring and conceptualizing that energy (Dorenbosch, 2014), ultimately bringing leaders and organizations closer towards managing the energy of their employees (Schippers & Hogenes, 2011). In this way, our analyses suggest vitality deserves its merit in public HRM research (Dorenbosch, 2014;Tummers et al., 2016). ...
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This article extends the job demands–resources model in the public sector by including (a) crosslevel (moderation) effects of job demands and resources, (b) positive and non linear effects of job demands and (c) vitality as a key work engagement concept. Data on expected contributions and developmental rewards in public university colleges (n = 65 teams, n = 219 employees) reveals individual-level higher expected contributions are associated with higher performance, mediated by vitality. This mediation is stronger in the presence of more team-level developmental rewards, suggesting a cross-level moderated mediation. We find indications for curvilinear effects of expected contributions. Contrary to expectations, these effects do not show exponential relations, but rather inverted U-shapes. Our results contribute to ‘bringing in a psychological perspective’ in public administration and suggest public leaders could apply the job demands-resources model as a practical tool and vitality as a metric to create healthy and effective work environments.
... It is assumed that if employees' health and knowledge-related resources are developed and regenerated, they can make a substantial contribution to sustainability and long-term viability of organizations and societies. Studies conducted on sustainability and HR-related strategies and practices mainly focus on the role of developing and implementing sustainable work and HRM systems known as internal role of sustainable HRM (Ehnert, 2014 ;Dorenbosch, 2014;Mariappanadar, 2003Mariappanadar, , 2014Guerci et al., 2014;Gollan & Xu, 2014;Gollan, 2005). Secondly, in the role of supporting the implementation of corporate sustainability strategies known as external role of sustainable HRM (Zink, 2008(Zink, , 2014Kira & Lifvergren, 2014;Becke, 2014; Hirsig et al., 2014). ...
... The fourth theme was HR regeneration that was highly emphasized in prior studies (e.g. Becke, 2014;Ehnert, 2006Ehnert, , 2009aDocherty et al., 2002Docherty et al., , 2009Kira and Lifvrgren, 2014;Kira, 2002Kira, , 2003Dorenbosch, 2014;Mariappanadar, 2003Mariappanadar, , 2014. One respondent who was a HR Director viewed that "For the continuity of efficient performance of HRs, their needs must be met properly". ...
... The key success factors of Sustainable HRM model based on BSC found in the present study are summarized in Table 1 with the related prior studies. Learning & Growth Perspective Ehnert et al. (2016), De Prins et al. (2015, Mariappanadar (2014), Kira & Lifvergren (2014), Gollan & Xu (2014), , Hoeppe (2014), Harry (2014), Taylor et al. (2012), Cohen et al. (2012, Renwick et al. (2011), Ehnert (2009a, Wehling et al. (2009), Ehnert & Brewster (2008, , Gollan (2006), Wilkinson et al. (2001) Purposeful Training and Development of HRs Ehnert (2011Ehnert ( , 2009aEhnert ( , 2006 Gollan (2000Gollan ( , 2006 Change toward Sustainability Kira & Lifvergren (2014), Hoeppe (2014), Mariappanadar (2014), Gollan & Xu (2014), Becke (2014), Dorenbosch (2014), Docherty et al. (2002), Ehnert (2009a, Kira (2003) Mariappanadar (2014Mariappanadar ( , 2003, Pfeffer (2010), Ehnert (2009aEhnert ( , b, 2006, Docherty et al. (2002), Wehling et al. (2009, Kira & Forslin (2008), Kira (2002Kira ( , 2003 Health ...
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This qualitative study attempts to ground the value-added contribution of sustainable HRM in accomplishing the organization's mission using Balanced Scorecard (BSC). For this purpose, semistructured interviews were conducted with HR and sustainability experts of three knowledge-based ICT companies and university professors, and the obtained data was analyzed using thematic analysis technique. Critical success factors were identified in each four BSC perspectives regarding sustainability strategy in HRM. The results obtained and conclusions drawn suggest that sustainable HRM and BSC provide more opportunities to attain long-term organizational and business success, especially in today’s complex and dynamic business context. This paper could enable practitioners gain better understanding of key requirements to sustainability goals in the 21st century via effective integration of sustainable HRM and Balanced Scorecard.
... Our research contributes to a new stream of research which stresses the importance of employee vitality (being happy, healthy, energetic, and committed) for their engagement in environmentally friendly behavior at the workplace [25,26]. One of the first studies concerning this subject, using data from 2000 Dutch employees [25], found that vitalized employees are able to manage their own resources in a more sustainable way than less vitalized employees. ...
... Our research contributes to a new stream of research which stresses the importance of employee vitality (being happy, healthy, energetic, and committed) for their engagement in environmentally friendly behavior at the workplace [25,26]. One of the first studies concerning this subject, using data from 2000 Dutch employees [25], found that vitalized employees are able to manage their own resources in a more sustainable way than less vitalized employees. Enriching this literature, our Sustainability 2019, 11, 5170 3 of 20 ...
Article
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There is a limited understanding of the antecedents and consequences of employee vitality during war zone exposure. The current study is one of the first ones to investigate the direct effects of perceived danger on employee vitality by collecting data from Afghanistan, one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Furthermore, it was investigated how employee vitality affects sustainable behavior at the workplace. The hypotheses of the study have been tested by using data from two surveys collected from 192 employees working in small-sized private businesses in Afghanistan. The results indicate that high levels of perceived danger negatively impact employee vitality at work. In addition, we found that employees with vitality engage in more pro-environmental behavior in the workplace. The engagement of vital employees in pro-environmental behavior is higher among those employees who have a high level of environmental awareness. This paper concludes by presenting the limitations and implications of this study, as well as highlighting potential avenues for future research.
... Dorenbosch [19,20] created a conceptual framework of sustainable work performance in which employee vitality plays a pivotal role. This framework distinguishes four categories of employees: (1) vital, (2) passive, (3) forced proactive, and (4) comfortable energetic. ...
... Personal resources are aspects of the self that are generally linked to resiliency and refer to employees' sense of their ability to control and impact upon their work environment successfully [25]. For the regeneration of resources, recovery is considered to be essential [20]. Recovery can generally be defined as a process of unwinding and restoration during which an employee's functioning and strain level returns to its pre-stressor level [26]. ...
Article
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Vitality at work is an important factor for organizations to build a healthier, more engaged, sustainable, and productive workforce. The organizational and societal relevance of vitality at work is high, particularly with regard to an aging and more diverse workforce. This Special Issue focusses on what might be called sustainable performance at work: Maximizing work performance as well as worker health and well-being through employee vitality. Currently, there are still many gaps of knowledge with regard to the relationship between employee vitality and sustainable performance at work. Examples of knowledge gaps are concerned with potential determinants of vitality at work for different occupational groups (such as older workers, ethnic minority workers, and handicapped workers), pathways linking vitality to sustainable performance, or health effects of interventions targeting employee vitality and/or sustainable performance at work. With this Special Issue, we hope to provide readers with solid new findings extending the current state of knowledge about employee vitality and sustainable work performance.
... People are core to sustainable development, and the HR must design and develop systems (Zink, 2014) such that the organization can retain a healthy and productive workforce (Ehnert, 2009) from a sustainability perspective. Moreover, sustainable work performance is a function of high resource levels of employees (energy, time and competences) and the allocation of resources leading to resource regeneration (Dorenbosch, 2013), and hence, organizations must balance it for sustainable performance of employees. ...
Article
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to provide an empirical investigation into the mediating effect of high-performance work systems (HPWS) on health harm (HH). The paper also examines the role of perceived organizational support (POS) and its indirect effect on work intensification (WI) and HH through HPWS. Further, the implications of the HH on individuals, organizations, families and societies are also presented. Recognizing the need for sustainable human resource management (HRM) practices that drive employee well-being and reducing HH is also highlighted. Design/methodology/approach Data for the study were collected using four established scales. The data collected from 345 executives were analyzed using the SPSS 25.0 Version and Amos 21.0. Findings The study confirmed that work intensification causes HH. The results also indicate the significant mediation of HPWS and the moderation of POS between WI and HH, thus suggesting the inevitability of HR intervention for implementing sustainable HRM practices, which reduce the negative harm of the work. Research limitations/implications Data were collected from executives working in IT organizations in India. However, IT work exhibits broadly similar technology/platforms across the world and hence, applicable to the other contexts as well. Practical implications The study suggests that organizations should formulate policies and initiate interventions toward the care of employees, motivating toward higher performance and support them to prevent HH of work. It is difficult to categorize what comprises the care of employees in the current context of HPWS and treating employees as an end in itself. Generally, it is seen in terms of health and safety, work–life balance, remuneration, workload, job role and job design. People are core to sustainable development, and the HR must design and develop systems so that the organization can retain a healthy and productive workforce from a sustainability perspective. Moreover, sustainable work performance is a function of high resource levels of employees (energy, time and competences) and the allocation of resources, leading to resource regeneration. Hence, organizations need to source from a variety of sources and balance it for the sustainable performance of employees. Originality/value The HRM literature reveals the positive effect of POS on employee health, but studies that investigated the adverse impact of POS are notably absent. The study bridges this gap and is novel, as it explores the moderating role of POS on HPWS and HH and reaffirms the need for building sustainable organizations and sustainable HRM practices. Moreover, the paper provides contextual support to the literature, where studies relating to sustainable HRM practices in developing countries like India are absent.
... In a sustainable work system, key building blocks are the preservation of nonrenewable resources and the regeneration of renewable resources [67]. Our study adds to this in a way that a sustainable work system is also about maintaining a healthy balance between sufficient, matching resources on the one hand, and the job or study demands on the other. ...
Article
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This study examines whether specific (matching) combinations of demands and resources exist in the prediction of both positive and negative outcomes (i.e., vitality and fatigue) in a university context. In addition, we test the Demand-Induced Strain Compensation (DISC) Model’s key principles in this context to study its relevance, validity, and generalizability. A cross-sectional survey study was conducted among 397 employees and 497 students at a Dutch university. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses among both employees and students showed matching combinations of demands and resources in the prediction of vitality and fatigue. Specifically, an increase in cognitive demands was particularly associated with more student cognitive vitality when cognitive resources were high. Furthermore, results showed that an increase in cognitive demands was related to less cognitive fatigue in both employees and students when cognitive resources were high. Findings partly confirm our hypotheses in showing the important role of matching resources in the relation between demands and vitality and fatigue in university staff and students. Our study reveals that a sustainable work environment is about maintaining a healthy balance between sufficient, matching resources and demands at work or study.
Book
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We present a book entitled Innovation in Organisational Management Under Conditions of Sustainable Development. It is widely accepted that innovation is a key driver of sustainability. Similarly, in the present discourse, no one questions whether innovation is a necessary com- ponent of managerial processes at all organisational levels. Yet in a world where the need for sustainable development has become brutally evident, there are not many truly innovative companies and only a very few truly sustainable companies. Sustainable and innovative companies are as rare as mythical unicorns. One can try to explain this situation by concluding that it is already a challenge in itself to understand the interdependences between the social, economic, and en- vironmental dimensions while running a business. It is even more difficult to apply the so-called Triple Bottom Line (TBL) concept, which suggests that equal consid- eration should be given to financial, environmental, and social dimensions when making business and policy decisions. As a result, a question arises concerning the rationale behind attempts to in- troduce such complexity. Would it not be wiser to focus on maximising economic goals and take a passive approach to social and environmental dimensions by con- sidering them to be boundary conditions? Companies can create economic value through the adoption of more sustainable processes and practices; through the design and marketing of products or services which utilise so-called green technologies1 (e.g. electric vehicles); or by providing services which utilise an innovative mix of green and regular technologies in order to solve sustainability issues. Therefore, sustainable development can be promoted either through business practices or a company’s products and services, or both2. Implementing innovations that improve the ability to learn, manage and re- spond to environmental stimuli from dynamic socio-ecological structures makes it possible to move away from unsustainable trajectories. Various theoretical and G. H. Elmo et al. (2020). Sustainability in tourism as an innovation driver: an analysis of family business 1 reality. Sustainability 12(15), pp. 6149. M. Leach, J. Rockström, P. Raskin, I. Scoones, A. C. Stirling, A. Smith ... E. Arond et al. (2012). 2 Transforming innovation for sustainability. Ecology and Society, (17), pp. 11–18. 7 INTRODUCTION practical approaches to sustainability agree that improving it implies change, inno- vation or adaptation to its environment. The aim of sustainability is no longer just a sustainable state; instead, it is a process of constant improvement of the sustain- ability of “artefacts”. A dynamic perspective encourages discussion concerning the identification and handling of constant changes3. The ability to innovate has become necessary for companies and takes the form of incremental or radical innovations. Business model innovation, therefore, rep- resents a potential means of integrating sustainability into a business. Consequently, an innovative and sustainable business model should adapt the company’s profit- ability to the economic and non-economic benefits for society. On the other hand, the ever-changing market requirements gradually force businesses to adapt and change in order to improve quality and become more efficient, flexible, innovative and knowledge-driven. This explains why innovation, as a process by which an in- dividual or a business learns and develops knowledge, contributes even more to sustainability in the organisational context. Based on this premise, the authors de- cided to explore the interlinked realms of innovation and sustainability. As the authors realise that sustainable development is a pressing issue that requires immediate action from governments, industries, and society as a whole, we have made an effort to focus on innovations that can transform individuals, organisations, supply chains, and communities, and can move them towards a sustainable future. With the aim of improved sustainability, this book deals with organisational in- novation from a broad perspective, including product and process innovation. The monograph consists of 12 chapters. In chapter 1, Elżbieta Lorek presents the issues of building a green economy based on the principles of sustainable development, focused mainly on the positive economic effects of green transformation. In chapter 2, Izabela Karwala describes how acceleration programmes can serve as a source of innovation for organisations. This is particularly important today, as such programmes now have a well-established position in the business environment. In chapter 3, Dawid Żebrak focuses on the concept of sustainable human re- source management, with a particular focus on the employment of prisoners. In chapter 4, Monika Płońska’s research focuses on the challenges of sustain- able development in the Polish chemical industry in the context of the European Commission’s guidelines on the disclosure of non-financial climate information, especially given that time is running short. In chapter 5, Jakub Stęchły shows an example of a car-sharing company whose business model is based on the principles of the sharing economy. This is an inter- esting example of an attempt to combine sustainability and innovation in various areas. In chapter 6, Karolina Mucha-Kuś explains the benefits of an innovative ap- proach to integrating a public bicycle system in a metropolitan area, and the stake- holders’ approach to this project from the perspective of coopetition. In chapter 7, Grzegorz Kinelski makes an effort to identify the relationship be- tween sustainable development, project management and the digital economy. Conclusions are drawn which could be relevant not only to the energy sector but to all kinds of enterprises. In chapter 8, Grzegorz Kinelski and Wojciech Muras deal with managing invest- ment decisions whilst taking non-financial measures into account. Such measures are essential when introducing sustainable development metrics into the strategic controlling process. In chapter 9, Krzysztof Zamasz depicts how political decisions aimed at ensur- ing the sustainability of energy production affect energy companies. Day-to-day business decisions in energy companies are becoming increasingly complex due to increased volatility and uncertainty as the regulatory regime tries to maintain a bal- ance in the market whilst complying with decarbonisation goals and fulfilling the role of the state in providing energy security. In chapter 10, Maria Schulders addresses concerns regarding the mental health of university students by exploring the applicability of self-authorship in higher education processes. She points out that universities should construct a system- ic framework by which students are aided in the development of core values and self-concordant goals. It can be argued that such an approach is not only a prereq- uisite for students’ mental health and well-being, but also for reaching the full in- novative potential of individuals and educational institutions. INTRODUCTION 9 INTRODUCTION In chapter 11, Katarzyna Szczepańska-Woszczyna, Wojciech Muras and Marta Pikiewicz venture into aspects of long-term value creation in IT companies, tak- ing into account the role of shareholders. IT companies constitute the backbone of development of the knowledge economy but are subject to innovative managerial processes themselves, while the conceptualisation and internalisation of the role of shareholders is critical for the long-term sustainability of the organisation. In chapter 12, Michał Gramatyka presents the management of election cam- paigns in light of project management and focuses on finding the answer to the fol- lowing question: are project management practices translatable into the language of politics? We hope that our book will be a source of valuable knowledge for business prac- titioners, academic researchers, and all stakeholders for whom the concepts of sus- tainable development and innovation are important. We have prepared this mono- graph in the hope that readers will find it useful either for the purpose of making their innovative organisations more sustainable or making their sustainable organ- isations more innovative. Katarzyna Szczepańska-Woszczyna Krzysztof Zamasz Grzegorz Kinelski Editors
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This investigation deals with the active learning hypothesis in Karasek and Theorell's (1990) job demands-control model. The active learning hypothesis holds that high levels of learning and self-efficacy will occur among incumbents of high job demands/high job control jobs, whereas low levels of learning and self-efficacy will be found in low demands/low control jobs. This study tested these notions in the context of a two-wave study conducted over a period of one year among 876 Dutch teachers. Regression analysis revealed that job demands had a lagged negative (rather than a positive) effect on learning and self-efficacy; as expected, job control had a positive effect. Thus, the highest levels of learning and self-efficacy were found among incumbents of high control/low demands jobs (and not among incumbents of high control/high demands jobs). Further, the effects of changes in work characteristics on changes in learning behaviour and self-efficacy were examined, providing additional evidence that especially the transition from a low demands/low control to a high demands/low control job is associated with a strong deterioration of learning and self-efficacy. It is concluded that future research should address the interrelationships between learning and strain, preferably using longitudinal designs.
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It is widely argued that modern manufacturing settings require employees to adopt a customer-focused strategic orientation and a broad and proactive role orientation. Yet empirical investigation of this issue is lacking. We describe the development of measures of both types of work orientation and present two field studies that examine how these orientations change. Findings suggest that, although the implementation of new production practices can in itself lead to the development of a strategic orientation appropriate to modern manufacturing, change toward a more flexible role orientation additionally requires the introduction of autonomous forms of working.
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In a study of male and female members of the German work-force, interview-based measures of personal initiative were examined as a function of age in combination with demographic and work characteristics. No significant age differences were found for male employees' initiative in job behaviour, but a negative age-pattern was found for men's and women's initiative in educational activities. When measured by questionnaire self-reports and by spouse/partners' descriptions, initiative tended to be greater at older ages.