Open Universiteit

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Title: Optimisme op de werkvloer: fleurige filosofie of slimme strategie? Een onderzoek naar de rol van optimisme in het psychologisch contract.
Authors: Berg, B van den
Keywords: optimism
JD-R model
psychological contract
Issue Date: 23-May-2017
Publisher: Open Universiteit Nederland
Abstract: Title of thesis: “Optimism at the workplace: vibrant philosophy or smart strategy? An investigation into the role of optimism in the psychological contract.” Brenda van den Berg, Open Universiteit, 23 mei 2017. Abstract Organizational changes could lead to changes in the mutual expectations of employer and employee regarding the employment relationship. This thesis looks into the relationship between dispositional optimism and the presence of triggers in a working environment, as well as the possible consequences for the psychological contract. Triggers are considered to be indicators of change in the psychological contract. In addition to investigating triggers numerically and on their content at different optimism levels, this thesis looked at the moderating role optimism could possibly play in the relationship between the number of triggers and potential psychological contract outcomes. The research question has been answered, using both quantitative and qualitative research. The number of triggers can be seen as an indicator for psychological contract outcomes. A small number of triggers can be indicative of a higher chance at a positive psychological contract outcome, while a high number of triggers can be indicative of a negative psychological contract outcome. Optimism levels affect the count and content of triggers. Employees with low optimism levels experienced more triggers than employees with high optimism levels. The moderating role of optimism on the relationship between the number of triggers present and the psychological contract outcome could not be proven statistically. The trigger content analysis was executed using variables of the JD-R model. Job demands play an important role in experiencing triggers. The organizational demands category is mentioned most often for both positive and negative triggers. Surprisingly, the unwanted behavior category (most occurred at low optimism levels) and the bureaucracy category (most occurred at high optimism levels) were most present. Improvements are also important in the field of communication (source of energy). This research was conducted among 92 teachers at five different Universities of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Practical recommendations concentrate mainly on increasing the organisation’s attention to stimulating optimism and other energy sources in the working environment. Increasing the level of optimism by working towards an optimistic attribution style or positive future visualization are possible examples. Unwanted behavior and bureaucracy are the main concerns and therefore demand urgent solutions. More research is necessary to be able to conclude that the correlations found between optimism levels, triggers and psychological contract outcomes are also applicable to different populations, in different situations and working environments, and during different organisational changes. The possibility of an interaction between optimism and other personal resources requires also additional research. Furthermore, the process-oriented sides of psychological contracts are still empirically underexposed. It is highly recommended to study the possible fluctuations in the psychological contract outcomes during a certain timeframe, in combination with the experienced triggers and to relate it to different levels of optimism. In addition, the definition of the term trigger requires more attention in research studies. Finally, it could be useful to explore the employee’s opinion on triggers and the characteristics that employees assign to it, in order to gain more insight into the functioning of the psychological contract.
Appears in Collections:MSc Management Science

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