Perspectives, Issues, Research and Practice
Edited by Simon L. Albrecht
Chapter 5: Toward an Evidence-based Model of Engagement: What We Can Learn from Motivation and Commitment Research
John P. Meyer, Marylène Gagné and Natalya M. Parfyonova Introduction Like many of the concepts that are so important to us – love, trust, justice – employee engagement is relatively easy to recognize, but has proven very difficult to define. As elusive as its definition might be, however, engagement has become the new buzzword in organizations (Richman, 2006) and has been heavily marketed by human resources (HR) consulting firms as a strategy for competitive advantage (Macey & Schneider, 2008). This raises some interesting questions. Why is engagement so popular today? Where did it originate, and why? And, perhaps most importantly, what do we know about engagement and how can we leverage this knowledge to the benefit of organizations and their employees? Macey and Schneider noted that interest in employee engagement is relatively recent and new, and originated in the business world rather than from academic research. Indeed, they argued that “[a]cademic researchers are now slowly joining the fray” (p. 3). We agree that the term has been popularized by HR consultants and that it has hit a cord with employers who are striving to do more with fewer resources in an increasingly competitive economic environment. However, we argue that academics know a great deal more about engagement than what we can learn from the relatively small body of recent engagement studies (for example, Schaufeli et al., 2002; May et al., 2004; Saks, 2006). Our objective is to show how our understanding of engagement is enhanced by research pertaining to longstanding theories...
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