Does a Positive Gain Spiral of Resources Essay

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Computers in Human Behavior
Computers in Human Behavior 23 (2007) 825–841 www.elsevier.com/locate/comphumbeh

Does a positive gain spiral of resources, efficacy beliefs and engagement exist?q
Susana Llorens a,*, Wilmar Schaufeli b,1, Arnold Bakker b,2, Marisa Salanova a,3 a ´ Department of Psychology, Universitat Jaume I, Campus de Riu Sec s/n 12071, Castellon, Spain b Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80.140, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands Available online 10 December 2004

Abstract The present study among 110 Spanish university students expands previous research on work engagement by investigating the causal relationships between two potentially important resources in the use of Information & Communication Technology (i.e., time control and method control), efficacy beliefs and engagement. More specifically, two questions are addressed: (1) do personal resources mediate the relationship between task resources and work engagement? (2) does engagement increase personal and task resources? Results show that efficacy beliefs play a mediating role between task resources and engagement. Engagement increases efficacy beliefs, which in turn increase task resources over time. These findings suggest a positive gain spiral in which efficacy beliefs play a central role. Ó 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

The research was made possible with the help of a European grant (# FEDER) and by Bancaixa Foundation (# 1I232.01/1). * Corresponding author. Tel.: +34 964 729569; fax: +34 964 729262. E-mail addresses: llorgum@psi.uji.es (S. Llorens), w.schaufeli@fss.uu.nl (W. Schaufeli), a.bakker@ fss.uu.nl (A. Bakker), salanova@psi.uji.es (M. Salanova). 1 Tel.: +31 30 2532916; fax: +31 30 2537584. 2 Tel.: +31 30253 4794; fax: +31 30 2534718. 3 Tel.: +34 964 729584; fax:+34 964 729262. 0747-5632/$ - see front matter Ó 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2004.11.012

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S. Llorens et al. / Computers in Human Behavior 23 (2007) 825–841

Keywords: Resources; Engagement; Efficacy belief; Gain spiral

1. Introduction Recent studies have suggested that job resources are related to work engagement through a process of work motivation (Bakker, Demerouti, De Boer, & Schaufeli, 2003; Demerouti, Bakker, Nachreiner, & Schaufeli, 2001; Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004). However, these studies were cross-sectional in nature and only one type of resources (i.e., task resources) was included. The present longitudinal and experimental study expands previous research on engagement by disentangling the (reversed) causal relationships between work task resources (i.e., time control and method control), personal resources (i.e., efficacy beliefs), and work engagement. More specifically, two research questions are addressed: (1) do personal resources mediate the relationship between task resources and work engagement? (2) does engagement increase personal and task resources? If the answer to both questions is affirmative, a reciprocal causal relationship would exist that is indicative of the ‘‘gain spiral’’ proposed by the Conservation of Resources (COR) Theory (Hobfoll, 1989, 2001). That is, task resources would foster efficacy beliefs and work engagement, which in turn would have a positive impact on efficacy beliefs and task resources.

2. The motivational potential of job resources Several studies have pointed to the motivational potential of (job) resources. For instance, according to Job Characteristics Theory (JCT; Hackman & Oldham, 1976, 1980) every job has a specific motivational potential that depends on the presence of five core job characteristics: i.e., skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback. The presence of these resources is linked to positive outcomes such as high quality work performance, job satisfaction, low absenteeism, low turnover, and high work motivation (Fried & Ferris, 1987; Tierney & Farmer, 2002). The Conservation of Resources (COR)…