For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"The gain spiral of resources and work engagement: Sustaining a positive worklife"

by Salanova, Marisa; Schaufeli, Wilmar B; Xanthopoulou, Despoina; Bakker, Arnold B (2010)


People try to acquire resources at work which they value such as autonomy, social relationships, and feedback about their performance. These job resources are functional in achieving work goals and may stimulate personal growth, learning, and development. As such, job resources initiate a motivational process that may lead to work engagement and positive organizational outcomes, including enhanced performance (Bakker & Demerouti, 2008; Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004). This premise is consistent with traditional motivational approaches such as job characteristics theory (Hackman & Oldham, 1980) and self-determination theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000). According to the former approach, particular job characteristics such as skill variety, autonomy, and feedback have motivating potential and indirectly predict positive outcomes like intrinsic motivation (a concept closely related to work engagement), through the activation of positive psychological states. In a somewhat similar vein, self-determination theory posits that job resources are motivating because they fulfill basic human needs, such as the needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Consequently, work contexts that provide resources such as job control (autonomy), feedback (competence), and social support (relatedness) would enhance well-being and increase intrinsic satisfaction at work (Ryan & Frederick, 1997).

Key Passage

Is there empirical evidence that resources positively affect work engagement that, in its turn, positively affects resources? Or, is there evidence for the existence of “resources caravans” or gain processes? To date, six independent longitudinal and diary studies have been carried out that are suggestive of gain spirals. (p.120)


Work Life Balance, Autonomy, Balance, Resources, Relationships, Personal Growth, Job Control, Work Engagement


Psychological Centrality of Work

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