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Symbolic Immortality at Work: Understanding the Antecedents of Generative Job Performance B. Lindsay Brown & Lillian Eby.

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Presentation on theme: "Symbolic Immortality at Work: Understanding the Antecedents of Generative Job Performance B. Lindsay Brown & Lillian Eby."— Presentation transcript:

1 Symbolic Immortality at Work: Understanding the Antecedents of Generative Job Performance B. Lindsay Brown & Lillian Eby

2 Research Question: How does mortality awareness translate into meaningfulness in the workplace? Research Question: How does mortality awareness translate into meaningfulness in the workplace?

3 What is generativity? Age development & nurturing younger generations (Erikson, 1950) Motivation, behaviors, & attitudes directed towards helping or positively impacting others, organizations, community, or society (McAdams, St. Aubin, & Kim, 1992) Associated w/ meaningfulness in life

4 Symbolic Immortality & Meaningfulness Existential dilemma Transcend death by impacting the world and making contribution to the future that will benefit others (Kotre, 1984; Wade-Benzoni, 2006; Wade-Benzoni, et al., 2009) Generativity connects the individual with something greater than the self and is associated with mortality awareness (Becker, 1973; Kotre, 1984) Generativity allows one to outlive the self (Kotre, 1984)

5 Current Literature on Workplace Mortality Awareness Contradictory findings Beneficial & detrimental Job tension (Chisolm, Kasl, & Eskenazi,1983) Pro-social behaviors (Elder & Clipp, 1988) Task significance & variety Emotional exhaustion, organizational commitment & pay satisfaction (Jermier, Gaines, & McIntosh, 1989)

6 Importance of Understanding Mortality Awareness at Work Multiple work contexts Overt - Combat military, hospice workers Covert - Substance abuse counselors, ER clerical staff, 911 operators Personal & vicarious effects of death at work Aging population Trainability

7 Current Study Formally assess mortality awareness and relationships to supervisor-rated performance outcomes Address when and for whom mortality awareness increases workplace generativity Grant & Wade-Benzonis (2009) contingency model of death awareness at work

8 Contingency Model of Death Awareness at Work (Grant & Wade- Benzoni, 2009) Death reflection Generative work behaviors Work orientation Job design

9 Research Hypotheses Death reflection Generative work behaviors: 1.Task performance 2.OCB-I Calling work orientation Mentoring received H1 H2 H3

10 Method Sample 348 substance abuse counselors and their clinical supervisors 17 organizations across U.S. Procedure Paper-and-pencil surveys part of larger N.I.D.A. study $50/$75 compensation Measures Previously validated ( α =.88 -.97) Supervisor-rated job performance

11 Results: Hierarchical Moderated Regression - Task Performance H1a & H2a not supported; H3a supported

12 Three-way Interaction of Death Reflection, Calling, & Mentoring on Task Performance

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14 Results: Hierarchical Moderated Regression - OCB-I H1b, H2b, & H3b not supported

15 Discussion All three factors must be present to positively impact generative task performance Null findings Practical implications Self-selection Job previews Theoretical implications Specifying behaviors and relationships Future research Mediating factors Other forms of generative work outcomes

16 What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal. -Albert Pike

17 Thank you for your time. Questions?


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