2021 Funded Research

WHAT DOES NOT KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER: HOW DO PAST EXPERIENCE OF OVERCOMING ADVERSITY LEAD TO BETTER PERFORMANCE AT WORK INSTEAD OF BURNOUT?

Organizational leaders and followers alike gain skills and “toolkits” that they use to navigate organizational life from their past experiences in life (Martin & Cote, 2019). However, not everyone has the same past experiences. Whereas some organizational members may come from relatively adversity-free backgrounds, others may have overcome various forms of adversity in the past. How do these past experiences of overcoming adversity shape the ways organizational members effectively navigate and lead organizations? The limited organizational scholarship on past adversity has characterized it as something to cope with, positing that how past adversity is perceived is key to organizational member’s coping effectiveness (Stephens, Townsend, Hamedani, Destin, & Manzo, 2015; Vogel and Bolino, 2020). Yet artists, popular press, and lay theory have long professed German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche’s aphorism that “what does not kill you makes you stronger.” We will build on theories of work enrichment (Greenhaus & Powell, 2006; Rothbard, 2001) and post-traumatic growth (Vogel & Bolino, 2020) to empirically examine how overcoming adversity in the past can make employees “stronger” in organizations.This will be done via a series of experiments and field studies.

 

Research conducted by Arianna Beetz, Doctoral Candidate, The Wharton School, The University of Pennsylvania

WHEN HELPING HURTS: ANTICIPATORY AND REACTIVE HELPING, RECIPIENT SELF-THREAT, AND HELPER OUTCOMES

Organizational research has documented how those who help receive positive treatment and outcomes in return (e.g., Podsakoff et al., 2009). However, because the literature suggests that most helping at work is reactive (i.e., employees give assistance after an explicit request), it has prevented thorough investigation of anticipatory helping—anticipating the needs of others and offering or providing assistance without being asked. We argue that such anticipatory helping may result in less positive outcomes for helpers. Through a series of experiments and field studies, we are examining why and when help recipients react more negatively toward helpers who engage in anticipatory helping. By doing so, we more precisely identify the distinct forms of helping at work (anticipatory vs. reactive) and when they lead to more (versus less) beneficial outcomes for helpers.

Research conducted by Michael Parke, Assistant Professor of Management, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania