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[Excerpt] Organizations have a strong stake in their employees’ sense of self-efficacy; that is, in their subjective sense of self-control and their capacity to act effectively and achieve desired outcomes in their personal lives, as well as on the job. Studies show that a strong sense of self-efficacy contributes to a host of favorable psychological and behavioral outcomes, including the tendency to set stretch goals, work hard, persist on difficult tasks, experience less stress, and bounce back in the face of adversity. Relatively little, however, is known about the factors that foster perceptions of self-efficacy in the first place. There is some theory and research to suggest that participation in stable collectives may play a major role. Stable groups, for example, engender an aura of control and efficaciousness that their participants often internalize which, in turn, strengthens their sense of control. Conversely, the insecurity and doubt associated with unstable groups are likely to have the opposite effect. These relationships appear to be particularly robust among members who have strong affective ties with their groups. Interestingly, stable collectives also may play a role in restoring members’ sense of self-efficacy when it is threatened, even when the challenges lie outside the collectives’ domains. That is, when group members encounter situations over which they have little or no control, they tend to seek out stable social structures to help restore the balance which, in turn, enhances their identification with the group (and by extension serves to restore their sense of self-esteem). Notice that most of these suppositions rest on research conducted with small groups and teams. The central question of interest here is whether the same dynamic occurs in the context of work organizations.


Recommended Citation
Proudfoot, D., & Kay, A. (2019, October). How perceptions of one’s organization can affect perceptions of the self: Membership in a stable organization can sustain individuals’ sense of control (CAHRS ResearchBrief). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, ILR School, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.