Luthans 2010

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The Development and Resulting Performance Impact of Positive Psychological Capital
Fred Luthans, James B. Avey, Bruce J. Avolio, Suzanne J. Peterson
Recently, theory and research have supported psychological capital (PsyCap) as an emerging core construct linked to positive outcomes at the individual and organizational level. However, to date, little attention has been given to PsyCapdevelopment through training interventions; nor have there been attempts to determine empirically if such PsyCap development has a causal impact on participants’ performance. To fill these gaps we first conducted a pilot test of the PsyCap intervention (PCI) model with a randomized control group design. Next, we conducted a follow-up study with a cross section of practicing managers to determine if followingthe training guidelines of the PCI caused the participants’ performance to improve. Results provide beginning empirical evidence that short training interventions such as PCI not only may be used to develop participants’ psychological capital, but can also lead to an improvement in their on-the-job performance. The implications these findings have for human resource development and performancemanagement conclude the article. A resource-based view of the firm suggests that optimal use of human capital can be a key source of competitive advantage because it is so difficult for competitors to replicate (Barney, 1991). This resource-based view has led to considerable attention in the human resource development (HRD) field focused on evaluating the value and impact of human capital onorganizational performance (e.g., Arthur, 1994; Huselid, 1995; Huselid, Becker, & Beatty, 2005). Recently, largely stimulated by the positive psychology movement (e.g., see Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000; Sheldon & King, 2001;

HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT QUARTERLY, vol. 21, no. 1, Spring 2010 © Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Published online in Wiley InterScience ( • DOI:10.1002/hrdq.20034



Luthans, Avey, Avolio, Peterson

Snyder & Lopez, 2002), there has been a call to go beyond human capital (generally recognized to be the education, experience, and implicit knowledge of human resources) by focusing on what has been termed positive “psychological capital” (Luthans & Youssef, 2004; Luthans, Youssef, & Avolio, 2007). Specifically, this psychological capitalor, simply, PsyCap, is not only concerned with “who you are” (i.e., human capital) but also, in the developmental sense “who you are becoming”, your “best self” (Luthans, Youssef et al., 2007, p. 20) In defining what constitutes a psychological capital resource, Luthans (2002a, 2002b) suggested that it be based in theory and research, amendable to valid measurement, statelike and thus open todevelopment and change, and have performance impact. Given these criteria, the resources drawn from positive psychology that were determined to meet these inclusion criteria best were efficacy, hope, optimism, and resilience (Luthans, 2002a, 2002b; Luthans, Youssef, & Avolio, 2007). Stajkovic (2006) also has advanced the same four constructs in his proposed motivational model called “core confidence,”confirming the inclusion of these four components by Luthans and his colleagues. The formal definition of psychological capital is “an individual’s positive psychological state of development that is characterized by: (1) having confidence (self-efficacy) to take on and put in the necessary effort to succeed at challenging tasks; (2) making a positive attribution (optimism) about succeeding now and in thefuture; (3) persevering toward goals and, when necessary, redirecting paths to goals (hope) in order to succeed; and (4) when beset by problems and adversity, sustaining and bouncing back and even beyond (resilience) to attain success” (Luthans, Youssef, & Avolio, 2007, p. 3). To date, research supports that the four component resources load on the higher-order core construct of psychological...
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