New Horizons in Management series
Edited by Alexander-Stamatios G. Antoniou and Cary L. Cooper
Chapter 25: The Healthy Organization
Jane Henry Introduction Positive psychology The recent positive psychology movement (Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi, 2000) argues that psychologists need to give attention to studying success and excellence, to balance the essentially negative orientation of studying failure and ﬁxing deﬁciency, which permeates much of psychology. To date positive psychologists have focused primarily on positive strengths and experiences at the individual level (through studies of optimism, resilience, self-eﬃcacy, positive aﬀect, satisfaction and meaning, for example) and positive approaches to community development. The author believes there is an equal case for focusing on positive approaches at the group and organizational levels. In organizational psychology, as with the discipline more generally, much theory is framed negatively with a view to ﬁxing deﬁciency and failure. For example the traditional management role is reactive: managers solve problems and trouble shoot; most organizations now work from a competency framework that orients much of their training to inputting missing skills, and empirical work often majors on the negative, addressing problems of stress, burnout, glass ceilings and lack of career development opportunities, for example. In contrast much of the organization consultants’ rhetoric (like the self-help literature) takes a positive orientation, advising organisations to adopt vision and mission statements (language borrowed from spiritual discourse), to adopt win–win negotiation, model best practice and encourage managers to forgive mistakes and seek partnership with erstwhile competitors. So, though there is a negative orientation in organizational psychology and organizational rhetoric, it is not nearly as all-encompassing as in other areas...
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