Original Research

Stable personal attributes and a resilient approach to work and career

Jill Flint-Taylor, Alex Davda, Cary L. Cooper
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 40, No 1 | a1137 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v40i1.1137 | © 2014 Jill Flint-Taylor, Alex Davda, Cary L. Cooper | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 April 2013 | Published: 28 August 2014

About the author(s)

Jill Flint-Taylor, Centre for Research in Executive Development, Ashridge Business School; Rusando Ltd, London, United Kingdom
Alex Davda, Ashridge Middle East, Ashridge Business School, United Kingdom
Cary L. Cooper, Lancaster University Management School, Lancaster University; Robertson Cooper Ltd, Manchester, United Kingdom


Orientation: Recent research has suggested that personal resilience should be viewed in terms of process and outcome. This has implications for the study of resilience in the work context.

Research purpose: The main research aim was to explore, at a detailed level, relationships between enduring personal characteristics and a resilient approach to work and career.

Motivation for the study: Moving away from the idea of resilience as a specific trait or set of traits raises the question of how general personality and ability constructs influence a resilient approach.

Research approach, design and method: This was an exploratory, quantitative study involving predictor (ability and personality) and criterion (satisfaction and involvement) data for 168 senior managers in five businesses within a retail and distribution group.

Main findings: Evidence was found for differential relationships between personal attributes and a resilient approach (measured in terms of positive vs. negative perspectives on work and career). For example, the personality factor of Openness to Experience was negatively related to Organisation and Career Satisfaction, but positively related to Career and Job Involvement.

Practical/managerial implications: In designing selection, development and employee survey procedures, organisations need to be aware of the differential nature of the relationships between attributes and a resilient approach to work and career.

Contribution/value-add: The study brings together recent research on resilience, personal attributes and work outcomes, and supports the potential of general attribute models for studying and improving the process of developing and exercising a resilient approach in the work context.


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