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Life in Organizations

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At the 2007 Global Well-Being Forum, Martin Seligman argued that Positive Psychology is too narrow a term. We need positive social science – including positive psychology, positive economics, positive sociology, and so on. This view was recently expressed in a comment on this site by Ruben Flores, a sociologist who commented about the 4th European Conference of Positive Psychology, “Great review. As a sociologist, I was glad to see speakers such as Antonella Delle Fave and Ed Diener encouraging the positive psychology community to pay more attention to social and cultural issues. It was also refreshing to see so much interest in carrying out interdisciplinary research!”

Positive Organizational Scholarship is one of these social sciences, a relatively new field that “is concerned primarily with the study of especially positive outcomes, processes, and attributes of organizations and their members. POS does not represent a single theory, but it focuses on dynamics that are typically described by words such as excellence, thriving, flourishing, abundance, resilience, or virtuousness.” (Cameron, Dutton, & Quinn, 2003, p. 4).

Appreciative Inquiry is an organizational development approach that helps organizations reach for transformative goals by appreciating the best of what has been and what is (Cooperrider & Whitney, 2005). The picture below illustrates the 4-D cycle used to describe the appreciative inquiry approach.

Appreciative Inquiry 4-D Cycle

Isaac Prilleltensky argues that we should shift our focus in social services from reacting to the weaknesses and failings of individuals and towards expanding the strengths of communities. He describes possible ways of dealing with human needs in terms of 4 quadrants as shown in the figure below (adapted from Prilleltensky, 2005).
Prilleltensky Picture

Sources on Positive Life in Organizations
Cameron, K., Dutton, J., & Quinn, R. (2003). Positive organizational scholarship: Foundations of a new discipline. San Francisco: Berrett-Kohler.

This book contains 23 articles by experts in the field. Seligman and Peterson talk about the contributions that positive psychology can make to the new POS field.

Robert Emmons writes about gratitude in organizations, Don Clifton and James Harter about investing in strengths, Barbara Fredrickson about positive emotions creating upward spirals in organizations, Amy Wrzniewski as well as Michael Pratt and Blake Ashforth about experiencing meaning at work, and many more.

The Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship at the University of Michigan has research information and teaching materials, including Gretchen Spreitzer’s Reflected Best Self exercise.

Cameron, K. (2008). Positive leadership: Strategies for extraordinary performance. San Francisco: Berrett-Kohler.
Harter, J. K., Schmidt, F. L., & Keyes, C. L. (2003). Well-being in the workplace and its relationship to business outcomes: A review of Gallup studies. In C. L. Keyes & J. Haidt, Flourishing: Positive psychology and the life well-lived, pp. 205-224. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

David Cooperrider

Diana Whitney

Cooperrider, D. & Whitney, L. (2005). Appreciative inquiry: A positive revolution in change. San Francisco: Berrett-Kohler.

Cooperrider, D. L. & Sekerka, L. (2003). Toward a theory of positive organizational change. In K. Cameron, J. Dutton, & R. Quinn, Positive organizational scholarship: Foundations of a new discipline, pp. 225-240. San Francisco: Berrett-Kohler.

Appreciative Inquiry Commons: “a worldwide portal devoted to the fullest sharing of academic resources and practical tools on Appreciative Inquiry and the rapidly growing discipline of positive change. ”

YouTube of Dr. Cooperrider speaking about positive revolution in change.

Ludema, J., Whitney, D., Mohr, B., & Griffin, T. (2003). The appreciative inquiry summit: A practitioner’s guide for leading large group change. San Francisco: Berrett-Kohler.
Nelson, D. L. & Cooper, C. L., Eds. (2007). Positive organizational behavior. London: Sage Publications.

Includes 14 chapters on a range of topics, including Psycap (Luthans, Youssef, & Avolio), Positive Emotion in organizations (Ashkanasy & Ashton-James), Thriving in Organizations (Spreitzer & Sutcliffe), Positive Role of Political Skill (Perrewe, Ferris, Stoner, and Brouer), and Eustress at Work (Simmons & Nelson).

Isaac Prilleltensky

Prilleltensky, I. (2005). Promoting well-being: Time for a paradigm shift in health and human services. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 33(5), 53-60. Here’s a link to the abstract.

Prilleltensky, I. & Prilleltensky, O. (2006). Promoting well-being: Linking personal, organizational, and community change. Wiley.

Panel session where Dr. Prilleltensky is the first speaker and discusses empowerment through relationships.

In the community of PPND authors, we are fortunate to have people from a number of different backgrounds, including big businesses, small businesses, work teams, professional associations, schools, medical facilities, and families. We all have reason to be interested in families and political communities. Our authors have reflected on ways that positive psychology could make a difference wherever people are collected together.




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PPND Articles on Life in Schools

Dave ShearonBy Dave Shearon:
ABC’ing Parental Involvement
Applying Positive Psychology to Education
By John Yeager:
Caring in Education: An Audience with Nel Noddings

The Culver Model – Positive Psychology and Well-being in the Independent High School

Internalizing Virtue: Skills to Habits in Our Students

By Sherri Fisher:
Appreciative Inquiry and Strengths: Positive Psychology in the Special Education Process

Positive Psychology’s Seven-Up: New Year’s Resolutions for Back to School

Multiple Intelligences and Mindsets: Positive Approaches to Education

By Christine Duvivier:

School that Rocks

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PPND Articles on Life in Business

By Bridget Grenville-Cleave:

Caring and Sharing in Business: Do We Practice What We Preach?

By Timothy T. C. So:

Engagement versus hierarchy: Well-being in Chinese Workplaces

Dave ShearonBy Dave Shearon:

Morale, Change, and Positive Organizations

Starbucks and Stories

Sure They’ll Think You’re Smart, But Will They Want to Work for You?

Kathryn BrittonBy Kathryn Britton:

Taking Positive Psychology to Work: The Role of Gratitude

Taking Positive Psychology to Work: Positive Core and Strengths

By Sulynn:
… the bottomline got hit when #1 hit the roof!

Positive Internal Communications in Change Management

By Margaret Greenberg:

Using the “L” Word in Business

An Interview with Toyota University’s Mike Morrison

Energize your Business Planning

Employee Recognition: How one Company Puts Their Money Where Their Mouth Is

Positive Work Environments: How One Company is Putting Theory into Practice

What Leaders Must Do, Know, and Be

Creating a Bridge Between Competencies and Strengths

Positive Psychology and Institutions: Highlights from a Panel Discussion

By Doug Turner:

Thoughts on Performance Reviews and Positive Psychology

By Senia Maymin:

Happiness at Work

Report from the 2007 AI Conference: How to Run an AI Summit

By Rosie Milner:

What gets Measured Gets Managed

By Emma Judge:

Do Leaders Need to Toughen Up?

Making Slow Decisions

So What Should Leaders Do?

Employee Engagement and Happiness

By Giselle Nicholson:

What Good is Business? Positive Psychology and Social Entrepreneurship

Measuring the Value of a Dollar

For our Non-Readers

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PPND Articles on Life in Families

By Giselle Nicholson:

The Meaning in Mother’s Day

 
Kathryn BrittonBy Kathryn Britton:

Family holiday rituals: Continuity and gratitude

An Unusual Reunion

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PPND Articles on Life in the Global Community

By Dana Arakawa:

Cultural Strengths?

By Sean Doyle:

Locating Hope in “Hopeless Situations”

By Timothy T. C. So:

Lesson from the Earthquake: Altruism and Selfless Love

By Angus Skinner:

Positive Psychology in Prisons?

Nick HallBy Nicholas Hall:

Gratitude at the Bridge House (or Below Zero is a Skewed Term)

Kathryn BrittonBy Kathryn Britton:

Social contagion: Spiral Up or Spiral Down?

Social Activism: What Works?

An Unusual Reunion

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PPND Articles on Life in Law and Medicine

By Jordan Silberman:

What Drug Companies Can Learn from Positive Psychology

By Peter Minich:

Sick Patients, Sicker System?

Dave ShearonBy Dave Shearon:

Optimists in Law School

CLE and Positive Psychology

When War Stories Do Make Great CLE

Sure They’ll Think You’re Smart, But Will They Want to Work for You?

By Timothy T. C. So:

Glamour, prestige, money: Why are lawyers still so unhappy?