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The Contribution of Psychological Resources in the Creation of Employee Psychological Safety

Mather, S. A. (2020) The Contribution of Psychological Resources in the Creation of Employee Psychological Safety. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

Research suggests that in order to be creative and weather organisational changes, employees need to feel psychologically safe (Edmondson, 1999). And yet today, many organisations operate in such a way as to confound this: constant change, matrix structures, poor leadership and job insecurity undermine mechanisms that can create Psychological Safety. Psychological Safety has been considered a group construct (Edmondson, 1999). This study adds to the field by investigating the role of Psychological Safety at an individual level, hypothesising that the greater the individual’s psychological resources, the greater their levels of Psychological Safety. The study measured psychological resources using three models: Kahn’s (1990) Psychological Dimensions, Good’s (2009) Cognitive Flexibility and the Psychological Capital (PsyCap) model (Luthans & Church, 2002). Extant research suggests that resilience is a result of the leveraging of resources, therefore the role of resilience in the Psychological Capital model was hypothesised to sit outside of the Psychological Capital model. Focus groups, a student pilot study (N=40) and an employee study (N=160) supported the hypothesis that resilience sits outside the Psychological Capital model. Results showed that attitudes of Optimism and Hope predicted Psychological Safety and Self-Efficacy, Hope and Attentional Control predicted Resilience. Underlying each of these were emotional resources, cognitive resources, openness and self-consciousness. The greater the level of psychological resources, the more positive the attitude and the greater the Psychological Safety and Resilience scores. A mixed methods longitudinal study demonstrated skills that enable Hope, Optimism and Self-Efficacy as well as openness could be developed within a half day workshop. This research recognises that employees have a role to play in their own Psychological Safety and resilience. Implications of the research and recommendations based on these findings are then suggested for organisations and employees. Students were found to have less psychological resources than employees though this requires further research.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Riddell, P. and Bourne, D.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences
ID Code:95651

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