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Title: When employee engagement is shared : an examination of engagement crossover effects between co-workers
Author: Mehrganrad, Mojdeh
ISNI:       0000 0004 7960 9336
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis reports on research into employee engagement and engagement crossover in the workplace. Employee engagement is "a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterised by vigour, dedication, and absorption", (Schaufeli et al., 2002, p. 74). When engaged, employees employ their hand, head, and heart to excel in their performance. On the other hand, engagement crossover is an inter-individual, dyadic process where certain functional and affective aspects of the work context, quantify the transfer of engagement from one employee to his or her co-workers. The research commenced with a general proposition that engagement can crossover from one employee to his/her co-worker in the workplace. However, the thesis postulated that there are functional and affective aspects of the work context, such as task and outcome interdependence, and workplace friendship, which create a specific condition for engagement crossover in the workplace. To investigate these propositions two research questions and five hypotheses were raised: "To what extent does employee engagement crossover from one employee to his/her co-worker in the workplace?" Relatedly, "what are the potential factors that determine the extent of this crossover?" To empirically test the research hypotheses, two independent studies were conducted. Study 1 (N=528) forms the first phase of this research and investigated engagement crossover among employees working in five different sectors. To build further on the first phase of the research, Study 2 (N=250) was conducted among employees of the petrochemical sector of the Iranian gas and oil industry. While the findings of each study were identical and replicated in the next one, each phase evolved from the previous one until the research matured into a comprehensive test of engagement crossover. Failure of previous studies to give compelling evidence for engagement crossover in the workplace provided a good opportunity for the thesis to contribute to employee engagement and crossover literature. Hence, two lines of research from crossover and engagement were brought together to justify engagement crossover in the workplace. The findings of both studies were confirmatory of the research questions. The thesis established that employee engagement can crossover from one employee to his/her co-worker, even after the spurious variance from demographic variables such as age, gender, hours spent with co-workers, tenure, and education levels, individual differences such as affect and personality (Big Five) and employees' shared stimuli such as job demands and resources and job characteristics were controlled in the model. The findings of the thesis developed new insights into crossover literature. Firstly, the thesis provided an empirical test of the empathy process in the two studies and showed that neither empathic concern nor perspective taking strengthen engagement crossover between two interdependent employees. These findings are novel and contribute to crossover research by empirically proving that Westman's (2001) proposition for the direct transfer of positive psychological states via empathy cannot be substantiated to the crossover of employee engagement in the workplace. The thesis further contributed to crossover research by extending Westman's (2001) initial model to the workplace and identifying specific indirect mechanisms of engagement crossover through the functional and affective role of task and outcome interdependence and workplace friendship. Thus, the objective of the thesis were met. Finally, the main theoretical contribution of the thesis is the engagement crossover model, which is underpinned by social interdependence theory (not role theory). Not only did the proposed model empirically test the three mechanisms of crossover concurrently in two independent studies, but also, it identified specific indirect mechanisms for the crossover of employee engagement in the workplace. Therefore, the proposed engagement crossover model addressed the shortcomings of the previous research and provided a thorough test of the crossover process in the workplace. The thesis also contributes to practice with implications for managers and leaders being discussed in the conclusion chapter. Principles and techniques were suggested for group designs and workplace relationships as a means of enhancing employee engagement, well-being, and work performance.
Supervisor: Woods, Stephen A. ; Thomas, Geoff Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral