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THRIVING AT WORK: A shift in focus – from weakness to strength

There has recently been a massive shift in thinking in the field of Organisational Behaviour – away from an employee deficit approach, which focuses on what’s wrong with employees and organisations and how to fix them, towards a capabilities approach which focuses on employee strengths and the organisational processes that support them. Effectively, what this means is that we are interested in the individual and organisational characteristics that enable people to thrive in organisations.

In academic terms, this focus on strengths is referred to as ‘Positive Organisational Behaviour” (POB). POB is defined as “the study and application of positively oriented human resource strengths and psychological capacities that can be measured, developed and effectively managed for performance improvement in today’s workplace” (Luthans, 2002, p. 59).

Closely allied to POB is Positive Organisational Scholarship (POS) which is defined as “the study of that which is positive, flourishing and life-giving in organisations” (Cameron & Caza, 2004, p. 731). The main focus area of POS is on identifying and enhancing the positive features of organisations that enable employees to flourish and thrive.

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