CONTEXTUALISING THE KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY

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CHAPTER 3: THE PSYCHOLOGICAL WORK IMMERSION SCALE AS A PREDICTOR OF BUSINESS PERFORMANCE

This chapter focuses on addressing the literature research aims in relation to the context of this research. Firstly, the chapter aims to conceptualise the Psychological Work Immersion Scale (PWIS) (Veldsman, 2013) in terms of the underlying theory and constructs that inform the scale. The chapter will describe the PWIS (Veldsman, 2013) within the context of knowledge economy organisations in order to understand the relevance of the scale within the domain of organisational development practices. The chapter explores the psychometric properties of the PWIS (Veldsman, 2013) and will conclude with an overview of the applicability of the scale in identifying relevant interventions aimed at improving psychological work immersion in the organisational development domain. The chapter will conclude by reflecting on the implications for organisational development practices in relation to the usefulness and applicability of the PWIS (Veldsman, 2013) as a predictor of business performance.

CONCEPTUALISATION

The following section will position the PWIS (Veldsman, 2013) by, firstly, providing context for the concept of psychological work immersion, defining the underpinning constructs that inform the concept and evaluating its relevance as a measure of people effectiveness in the knowledge economy.

Defining the concept of psychological work immersion

Psychological work immersion is defined by Coetzee and Veldsman (2013) as a deep state of physical, emotional and cognitive identification with the work experience within a particular social cultural context that flows from positive perceptions of people effectiveness enablers. Psychological work immersion can be distinguished from other concepts such as job involvement, work engagement and flow by the focus on psychological presence that forms part of the construct. Kahn (1990, 1992) describes psychological presence as a feeling of being connected, fully attentive and focused in terms of an individual’s work role. Veldsman (2013) builds on the concept of psychological presence, stating that the individual should not only draw upon his/her inner self in order to express their thoughts and feelings in terms of their job roles, but that the socio-cultural context should also play a role in fostering psychological attachment or engagement to the organisation and not just the task itself. People effectiveness enablers such as manager effectiveness, appreciative feedback, intra-team relations and individual congruence are important socio-cultural factors that influence individuals’ level of psychological attachment or engagement. This perspective builds on theories such as work engagement (Kahn 1990), flow (Csíkszentmihályi, 1990) and the job resources and demand theories conceptualised by Demerouti (1999) and adapted by Schaufeli and Bakker (2004). Psychological work immersion allows for the channelling of energy as influence by socio-cultural (people) performance enablers from an individual into physical, cognitive and emotional labours within a particular setting at a particular time, and further refers to the cognitive and emotional attachment that the individual experiences with regard to the identity of the organisation. This perspective positions psychological work immersion as a state of connection to the organisation, the individual contribution to the organisational purpose within a particular context and a deep involvement in the individual job role and task. Given the changing nature of the knowledge economy work environment, psychological work immersion is able to describe the connection that individual employees have to the organisational identity, which transcends the requirement for a physical presence in a particular work environment. Through this broader approach, psychological work immersion encapsulates the requirements of a knowledge economy workplace that is characterised by a diversified workforce, virtual teams and geographical distribution, by positioning the state of work immersion not just in terms of the psychological presence of the self but also in terms of the attachment with and to the broader organisational purpose (Coetzee & Veldsman, 2013).

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Measurement of psychological work immersion

Psychological work immersion is influenced by the relationship between people effectiveness enablers (manager effectiveness, individual congruence, strategic connection, appreciative feedback, enabling environment, intra-team effectiveness) as independent variables (antecedent) and psychological attachment (commitment, absorption, and employee motivation) as the consequence (dependent variable). The PWIS (Veldsman, 2013) measures the measures psychological work immersion as a meta-domain construct that encapsulates the presence of people effectiveness enablers (manager effectiveness, individual congruence, strategic connection, appreciative feedback, enabling environment, intra-team effectiveness) and psychological attachment (commitment, absorption and employee motivation).
The scale further provides an opportunity to evaluate the whether the link between people effectiveness enablers and perception of business performance is significantly mediated by a sense of psychological attachment. The scale also enables the identification of organisational development interventions aimed at improving people effectiveness enablers at an organisational, team and individual level in order to influence the levels of psychological attachment which will, in turn, have an impact on perception of business performance. Figure 3.1 provides a conceptual overview of the model.
The following section will describe each of the components that underpin the PWIS (Veldsman, 2013) in terms of people effectiveness enablers (manager effectiveness, individual congruence, strategic connection, appreciative feedback, enabling environment, intra-team effectiveness) and psychological attachment (commitment, absorption and employee motivation) in terms of its definition and applicability to the knowledge economy workplace.

People effectiveness enablers

People effectiveness enablers can be described in terms of the psychological behavioural state of attachment to overall business performance resulting from the employee’s emotional-cognitive identification with or psychological attachment to the work and the organisation (Veldsman, 2013). A number of constructs have been identified that will influence this particular state and these should be seen as drivers of organisational effectiveness from a people perspective within the organisation. From an organisational development perspective, these drivers should be used as a key focus in terms of interventions aimed at improving organisational effectiveness owing to their influence on psychological attachment variables (Coetzee & Veldsman, 2013).
Manager effectiveness relates to the extent to which managerial practices are perceived as fair, respectful and consistent, which creates a relationship of trust between employees and their direct managers (Veldsman & Coetzee, 2014). The concept further refers to the ability of managers to connect employees to the organisational purpose from a psychological point of view, which in turn influences the experienced levels of psychological attachment that the employee has to the organisational identity. Research has shown that a trusting relationship between managers and employees has implications for job performance, talent turnover intention, retention, job satisfaction and organisational citizenship (Roussin & Webber, 2012). Employee perceptions are shaped by the way they are treated by their managers, which in turn influences the organisational climate and culture and sets the tone for creating a psychologically safe environment where employees can flourish (Jiang, Lin, & Lin, 2010).
Individual congruence relates to the perception of the employee that there is a fit between their strengths, competencies and skills and the requirements of the job, as articulated in their day-to-day roles (Veldsman & Coetzee, 2014). The construct has shown a strong relationship with factors such as positive work experiences, feelings of significance and the ability to master personal goals and objectives (Swann, Crust, Keegan, Piggott, & Hemmings, 2015). Individual congruence has also shown a relationship with goal-achievement, experienced levels of commitment and motivation within the organisational context and is often seen as a key contributing factor to experienced levels of work engagement (Tims, Bakker, Derks, & Van Rhenen, 2013).
Strategic connection refers to the connection between individual contribution and broader organisational goal achievement and is underpinned by enabling employees to feel that they are making a significant contribution to the organisation (Veldsman & Coetzee, 2014). Strategic connection is crucial for enabling psychological identification with the work environment, as well as a key influencing factor in terms of employee motivation and commitment (Barrick, Thurgood, Smith, & Courtright, 2015). Organisational performance, goal achievement and task significance have all been related to the concept of strategic connection (Armstrong & Taylor, 2014). In the modern knowledge economy, with its ever-changing organisational landscape, the concept of strategic connection has become increasingly important not just because of its traditional purpose of creating line of sight towards organisational goals but also for the creation of psychological identification in terms of the purpose of the organisation, which stretches far wider than just vision and mission statements (Veldsman, 2011). Strategic connection creates a link between the individual work role and the organisational purpose and, as such, creates an avenue for employees to create meaning in terms of their contribution. This leads to feelings of self-efficacy, work engagement and flow (Albrecht, Bakker, Gruman, Macey, & Saks, 2015).

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CHAPTER 1: SCIENTIFIC OVERVIEW OF THE RESEARCH 
1.1 BACKGROUND AND MOTIVATION FOR THE RESEARCH
1.2 PROBLEM STATEMENT
1.3 AIMS OF THE RESEARCH
1.4 STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
1.5 THE RESEARCH MODEL
1.6 PARADIGM PERSPECTIVES OF THE RESEARCH
1.7 THE RESEARCH DESIGN
1.8 RESEARCH METHOD
1.9 CHAPTER DIVISION
1.10 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 2: METATHEORETICAL CONTEXT OF THE STUDY – ORGANISATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS AND BUSINESS PERFORMANCE IN THE KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY 
2.1 CONTEXTUALISING THE KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY
2.2 THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ORGANISATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS AND BUSINESS PERFORMANCE IN THE KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY
2.3 AN OVERVIEW OF ORGANISATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS
2.4 AN OVERVIEW OF ORGANISATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS MODELS
2.5 PEOPLE EFFECTIVENESS AS AN ELEMENT OF ORGANISATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS
2.6 ORGANISATIONAL SETTING: FACTORS INFLUENCING ORGANISATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS AND BUSINESS PERFORMANCE
2.7 IMPLICATIONS OF THE STUDY FOR ORGANISATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PRACTICES
2.8 EVALUATION AND SYNTHESIS .
2.9 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 3: THE PSYCHOLOGICAL WORK IMMERSION SCALE AS A PREDICTOR OF BUSINESS PERFORMANCE
3.1 CONCEPTUALISATION
3.2 THEORETICAL MODELS
3.3 A CRITICAL REVIEW OF THE PWIS IN TERMS OF INFLUENCING MODELS AND APPLICABILITY TO THE KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY
3.4 ORGANISATIONAL DEVELOPMENT INTERVENTIONS TARGETING PSYCHOLOGICAL WORK IMMERSION LEVELS
3.5 VARIABLES INFLUENCING PSYCHOLOGICAL WORK IMMERSION
3.6 IMPLICATIONS FOR ORGANISATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PRACTICES AIMED AT IMPROVING ORGANISATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS AND BUSINESS PERFORMANCE
3.7 EVALUATION AND SYNTHESIS
3.8 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 4: EMPIRICAL STUDY 
4.1 DETERMINATION AND DESCRIPTION OF THE SAMPLE
4.2 CHOOSING AND JUSTIFYING THE USE OF THE PSYCHOMETRIC BATTERY
4.3 ETHICAL CONSIDERATION OF ADMINISTRATION OF THE PSYCHOMETRIC BATTERY
4.4 CAPTURING OF CRITERION DATA .
4.5 FORMULATION OF THE RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
4.6 STATISTICAL PROCESSING OF THE DATA
4.7 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 5: RESULTS
5.1 ASSESSING THE PSYCHOMETRIC PROPERTIES OF THE PSYCHOLOGICAL WORK IMMERSION SCALE: TIME 1 and TIME 2
5.2 ASSESSING THE TEST-RETEST RELIABILITY OF THE PWIS: TIME 1 and TIME 2
5.3 ASSESSING THE PREDICTIVE VALIDITY OF THE PWIS: TIME 1 and TIME 2
5.4 DISCUSSION
5.5 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 6: CONCLUSIONS, LIMITATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
6.1 CONCLUSIONS
6.2 LIMITATIONS
6.3 RECOMMENDATIONS
6.4 EVALUATION OF THE STUDY
6.5 CHAPTER SUMMARY
REFERENCES
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