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Britt, Shen, Sinclair, Grossman, and Klieger (2016) provide a summary of the conceptual confusion surrounding the construct of resilience as well as several key recommendations for spurring future organizational research on resilience. However, we feel that two key points were not adequately addressed in the focal article. First, we argue that we cannot fully understand the concept of resilience or apply it in our field of organizational studies without first understanding its fundamental theoretical groundings. Many of these underlying theoretical foundations on resilience were founded in and advanced through 50+ years of theory and research on family resilience literature; however, many of these perspectives were not addressed in the focal article. In this commentary, we outline and provide contextualized examples of how to apply one of the most widely used and empirically supported theoretical models of resilience—the ABC-X model (Hill, 1958)—to the work domain. Using the ABC-X model as a starting framework, we then highlight several additional theoretical perspectives that can inform research on employee resilience: Masten's (2001) ordinary magic, Antonovsky's (1979) sense of coherence, and Walsh's (2003) focus on strengths.
The focal article by Bergman and Jean (2016) raises an important issue by documenting the underrepresentation of nonprofessional and nonmanagerial workers in industrial and organizational (I-O) research. They defined workers as, “people who were not executive, professional or managerial employees; who were low- to medium-skill; and/or who were wage earners rather than salaried” (p. 89). This definition encompasses a wide range of employee samples: from individuals working in blue-collar skilled trades like electricians and plumbers to police officers, soldiers, and call center representatives to low-skill jobs such as fast food, tollbooth operators, and migrant day workers. Because there is considerable variability in the pay, benefits, skill level, autonomy, job security, schedule flexibility, and working conditions that define these workers’ experiences, a more fine-grained examination of who these workers are is necessary to understand the scope of the problem and the specific subpopulations of workers represented (or not) in existing I-O research.
In an attempt to distill what we know about the effects of workplace mindfulness-based training, Hyland, Lee, and Mills (2015) cast a wide net with regard to the array of studies included in their review. For example, they include studies that investigate the benefits associated with workplace mindfulness training (e.g., Wolever et al., 2012) as well as training conducted for patients within primary care settings (e.g., Allen, Bromley, Kuyken, & Sonnenberg, 2009). In addition, their review includes studies based on self-reports of individual differences in mindfulness traits/skills (e.g., Hafenbrack, Kinias, & Barsade, 2014). Reviewing a broad cross-section of research is helpful to illustrate the wide-ranging nature of mindfulness research but also has the potential to obfuscate what we know about mindfulness as it pertains to workers and workplaces.
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