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A Dialectical Approach to Positive Organizational Studies

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Author(s): Miguel Pereira Lopes

Journal: American Journal of Industrial and Business Management
ISSN 2164-5167

Volume: 03;
Issue: 02;
Start page: 185;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: Positive Organizational Scholarship | Positive Organizational Behaviour | Dialectical Approach | Personality Traits | Psychological States | Positive Organizations

ABSTRACT
Over the last decade, an academic movement emerged towards the study of positive phenomena in management and organization studies. Since then, two different scientific research streams have emerged in line with this positive approach to management: 1) positive organizational scholarship (POS), which proposes a trait approach view of positive virtues and strengths and sees the environment as a moderator variable which facilitates or not the exhibition of corresponding positive behaviours; and positive organizational behaviour (POB), which defends a state-like perspective of positive characteristics, thus putting a strong emphasis on situational factors as determinants of positive behaviour, leaving a marginal role to positive psychological traits. As a critical comparison between these two different research streams is yet to be done, in this paper I propose a dialectical approach to study positivity in organizations and contrast these two different ontological approaches to positivity in organizations. I presented arguments to demonstrate that each of these approaches alone constitute quite a limited proposal in that each of them seems to misleadingly assume that: traits cannot be changed; they show incongruence between assumptions and purpose and; they constitute biased viewpoints. A dialectical approach makes possible to overcome these shortcomings by assuming both personality characteristics and environmental features relate each other in an intertwined complex way to produce positive behaviour in organizations. I finally present some practical implications that a dialectical approach would have to organizations and managers.
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