Integrating positivity and negativity in management research The case of paradoxical optimists

Integrating positivity and negativity in management research The case of paradoxical optimists Purpose – Much of management research has been based on what can be called a “deficit‐based” approach. In contrast, there is the recent emergence of a new paradigm shift with the appearance of positive organizational studies. This paper aims to discuss how to integrate knowledge coming from both sides of the fence and exemplify it by testing a model that looks for the intricate and paradoxical relationships between optimism and pessimism. Design/methodology/approach – Using cluster analysis, a theoretical model is developed that includes the existence of a paradoxical type of personality beyond the dichotomous optimistic and pessimistic profiles. The validity of this model is tested in a sample of 343 workers of a company. Findings – The data evidenced a good fit with the four cluster theoretical model and showed that almost half of the sample (46.36 percent) were clustered as “paradoxical optimists”, individuals that simultaneously reported optimistic and pessimistic expectations towards the future. Research limitations/implications – Management researchers should make an effort to better understand how positive and negative phenomena in organizations relate to one another, namely by studying paradoxical personality individuals. They should go beyond the normal positive/negative dichotomy and search for more integrative forms of functioning. In the specific case of optimism, they should also distinguish paradoxical optimists from both “purely” optimists and pessimists. Originality/value – The paper illustrates that positive and negative issues in organizations can and should be integrated in more integrative theories. It develops and shows evidence of the construct of “paradoxical optimist”, a personality type that should be better investigated. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Management Research: The Journal of the Iberoamerican Academy of Management Emerald Publishing

Integrating positivity and negativity in management research The case of paradoxical optimists

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2011 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1536-5433
DOI
10.1108/1536-541111155236
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – Much of management research has been based on what can be called a “deficit‐based” approach. In contrast, there is the recent emergence of a new paradigm shift with the appearance of positive organizational studies. This paper aims to discuss how to integrate knowledge coming from both sides of the fence and exemplify it by testing a model that looks for the intricate and paradoxical relationships between optimism and pessimism. Design/methodology/approach – Using cluster analysis, a theoretical model is developed that includes the existence of a paradoxical type of personality beyond the dichotomous optimistic and pessimistic profiles. The validity of this model is tested in a sample of 343 workers of a company. Findings – The data evidenced a good fit with the four cluster theoretical model and showed that almost half of the sample (46.36 percent) were clustered as “paradoxical optimists”, individuals that simultaneously reported optimistic and pessimistic expectations towards the future. Research limitations/implications – Management researchers should make an effort to better understand how positive and negative phenomena in organizations relate to one another, namely by studying paradoxical personality individuals. They should go beyond the normal positive/negative dichotomy and search for more integrative forms of functioning. In the specific case of optimism, they should also distinguish paradoxical optimists from both “purely” optimists and pessimists. Originality/value – The paper illustrates that positive and negative issues in organizations can and should be integrated in more integrative theories. It develops and shows evidence of the construct of “paradoxical optimist”, a personality type that should be better investigated.

Journal

Management Research: The Journal of the Iberoamerican Academy of ManagementEmerald Publishing

Published: Aug 16, 2011

Keywords: Paradigm shift; Positivity; Negativity; Optimism; Pessimism; Organizational studies; Deficit‐based research; Paradoxical optimists

References

  • The bright and dark sides of leader traits: a review and theoretical extension of the leader trait paradigm
    Judge, T.A.; Piccolo, R.F.; Kosalka, T.
  • The need for and meaning of positive organizational behavior
    Luthans, F.
  • Positive psychological capital: measurement and relationship with performance and satisfaction
    Luthans, F.; Avolio, B.J.; Avey, J.B.; Norman, S.M.
  • The psychological capital of Chinese workers: exploring the relationship with performance
    Luthans, F.; Avolio, B.J.; Walumba, F.O.; Li, W.
  • Positivity in healthcare: relation of optimism to performance
    Luthans, K.W.; Lebsack, S.A.; Lebsack, R.R.
  • Why humanistic approaches in HRD won't work
    McGuire, D.; Cross, C.; O'Donnell, D.
  • The positive psychology of negative thinking
    Norem, J.K.; Chang, E.C.
  • Perceptions of organizational virtuousness and happiness as predictors of organizational citizenship behaviors
    Rego, A.; Ribeiro, N.; Cunha, M.P.
  • The emerging positive agenda in organizations: greater than a trickle, but not yet a deluge
    Wright, T.A.; Quick, J.C.

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