Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Business

Faculty

Business and Law

First Advisor

Associate Professor Peter Standen

Second Advisor

Dr Cath Ferguson

Abstract

Organisations in today‘s changing environment face significant challenges, requiring continual innovation. A critical factor in their response may be employees‘ resilience, the ability to apply high levels of effort and persistence while initiating, promoting and applying new ideas. However, despite growing evidence of the value of many positive psychological characteristics in organisational behaviour, the role of resilience in individual innovation has received little attention in the literature.

This thesis describes two studies of this issue. First, current perspectives and definitions of resilience were reviewed, revealing a need for an improved definition, a re-examination of its dimensions and a new measure. A new construct based in the positive psychology framework is proposed. Unlike previous studies viewing resilience as recovery from adversity, in the present view adversity is an opportunity for employees to grow as a person. This distinction between ‗survival‘ and ‗growth‘ perspectives can be traced back to humanistic psychology. A measure of this new construct was developed, building on existing measures, and tested on 167 managers from large organisations in Indonesia. Exploratory factor analysis revealed two dimensions to the new construct: developmental persistency, a combination of perseverance and commitment to growth, and positive emotion.

Study 2 validated the results of Study 1 and assessed the causal model linking resilience to innovative behaviour using 241 managers from companies and industries comparable to Study 1. Confirmatory factor analysis using two-step structural equation modelling showed two primary findings. First, construct validity was demonstrated by the factor analysis results and by correlations with related constructs. The correlation between developmental persistency and positive emotion was moderate, and the reliability of each construct was reasonably acceptable. Second, factor analysis confirmed that Janssen‘s (2000) measure of innovative behaviour is better treated as multidimensional – comprising idea generation, idea promotion and idea implementation rather than unidimensional.

Finally, the causal relationships between the dimensions of resilience and the dimensions of innovative behaviour were positive, as hypothesised. Four paths had moderately large and statistically significant coefficients: from developmental persistency to idea implementation and idea promotion, and from positive emotion to idea promotion and idea generation. Two paths had low and insignificant coefficients: from developmental persistency to idea generation and from positive emotion to idea implementation.

In light of these findings, suggestions for future research are presented and theoretical and practical implications, including interventions to increase employees‘ resilience, are explored.

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