Luthans' article on positive organizational behavior cited as top 50
Released on 09/12/2011, at 12:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
University of Nebraska-Lincoln management professor Fred Luthans has been awarded a 2011 Emerald Management Citations of Excellence Award. Luthans' article, with former UNL Ph.D. student Carolyn Youssef, "Emerging positive organizational behavior" (Journal of Management, 2007) was one of the top 50 articles with the most citations and impact among all business journals since its publication date.
Luthans, who joined the UNL College of Business Administration in 1967, is a pioneer in the field of organizational behavior. He authored the first mainline text, "Organizational Behavior," in 1973. The text is now in its 12th edition and has been used by students throughout the world.
The study of organizational behavior has had a significant impact in the field of business management but more than 25 years after publishing Organizational Behavior, Luthans had another inspiration that would transform the way people looked at behavior in the workplace. In 1999 he attended the first academic summit on positive psychology, and had a revelation.
"I felt this spark or epiphany of why don't we take this positive psychology to the workplace because it hadn't been done before," he said. "That's not to say there weren't positive things talked about before but not as a whole focus and a whole movement and a whole research stream. So I coined the term 'positive organizational behavior' and that was based on my involvement from the beginning of the positive psychology movement."
Luthans published his first article on positive organizational behavior in 2002 in the "Academy of Management Executive." That seminal article was the first step in impacting professors of management on the subject of positive organizational behavior.
"At that point I took it to the next level to ask, 'How do we apply all of this?' That's when I coined the term 'psychological capital'." Taking it to the next level involved the recognition of human potential and studying their psychological resources in the organization. Luthans applied the scientific method to find out how psychological capital might benefit organizations, and his first article to use the term "psychological capital" appeared in 2004.
"Everybody knows that positive is better than negative – the glass is half full rather than half empty – but what's the science behind all this? And that's what I'm providing because I only use the criteria of being based on theory and research, having valid measurements, being open to development and having performance impact.
"I can't change an employee's personality but I can change their level of psychological capital. We use the HERO acronym – H is the hope – E is the efficacy or confidence – the R is resiliency – and the O is optimism," he said. "That's the psychological capital that we have clearly demonstrated through the scientific process. It has a significant impact on desired employee attitudes, behaviors and performance. Now it is being cited by organizational behavior scholars and practitioners."
Emerald Management Reviews is a vast database of more than 280,000 article abstracts from the top 300 management publications worldwide, as selected by an independent accreditation board of industry experts. Publications on the prestigious Emerald Management Reviews Coverage List include Harvard Business Review, Journal of Marketing, Journal of Finance, and Strategic Management Journal. Just 50 articles across the entire database are singled out for a Citation of Excellence.
Writer: Roger Simonsen, CBA