Original Research

Strengths use, deficit correction, thriving and performance of academics at universities of technology

Fathima E. Mahomed, Sebastiaan Rothmann
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 45 | a1577 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v45i0.1577 | © 2019 Fathima E. Mahomed, Sebastiaan Rothmann | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 August 2018 | Published: 19 March 2019

About the author(s)

Fathima E. Mahomed, Department of Human Resource Management, Vaal University of Technology, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa
Sebastiaan Rothmann, Optentia Research Focus Area, North-West University, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa


Orientation: Research regarding strengths use, deficit correction and thriving of academics in higher education institutions is necessary, given the possible effects thereof on their task and contextual performance.

Research purpose: This study aimed to investigate the relationships among strengths use and deficit correction, thriving at work and performance of academics. Furthermore, it sought to investigate whether performance-related pay moderates the effects of thriving on performance.

Motivation for the study: No studies were found regarding the relationships among a balanced strengths- and deficit-based approach, thriving at work, and performance in the context of South African higher education.

Research approach/design and method: A cross-sectional survey design was used, with a convenience sample of 276 academic employees from three universities of technology in South Africa. The participants completed the Strengths Use and Deficit Correction Scale, the Thriving at Work Scale, a scale that measured perceptions of performance-related pay and measures of task and contextual performance.

Main findings: The results showed that perceived organisational support for strengths use, as well as individual strengths use and deficit correction, predicted thriving at work. Thriving predicted task and contextual performance. A significant interaction was found between thriving and perceptions of performance-related pay. The most robust relation between thriving and performance existed when performance-related pay was perceived to be good.

Practical/managerial implications: Higher education institutions must invest resources to enable academics to thrive at work via the balanced strength- and deficit-based approach. This approach should be seen as a core development tool for academics to increase employees’ thriving at work.

Contribution/value-add: This study contributes to scientific knowledge regarding strengths use and deficit correction, thriving and performance of academics in higher education institutions. It also resulted in new knowledge regarding the interaction effects of performance-related pay and thriving on task performance of academics.


strengths use; deficit correction; well-being; academics; thriving; performance; contextual performance; task performance


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