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Transcendence at Workplace Scale – Development and Validation

The notion of ‘Transcendence’ has been frequently cited in MSR (Management, Spirituality, and Religion) literature. Authors have contended the relevance of transcendence in work life, in terms of productivity (Srirangarajan & Bhaskar, 2011), prosocial behaviors (Pawar, 2009), employee engagement (Tongo, 2016), customer experience of employee service (Pandey et al., 2009), ethical action (McGhee & Grant, 2017) and managing change (Karakas, Sarigollu & Kavas, 2015). Moreover, studying transcendence in organizational context has implications for well-being, as literature (in other related domains) has suggested that transcendence has proved to benefit individuals in terms of improved physical, psychological and social health (Refer, Coward, 1991; Piedmont, 1999; Heaton, Schmidt-Wilk & Travis, 2004; Levenson et al., 2005).

Despite the agreement regarding the importance of transcendence in organizations, unfortunately, there exists no consensus on what defines employee transcendence experience at workplace. To our knowledge, a review of literature indicated that the existing measures in MSR literature have not defined and captured the phenomenon of transcendence (at the individual level) comprehensively. Authors have raised concerns that the notion of transcendence as an employee experience has not received enough acknowledgment and is considered a missing link in the existing MSR literature (Ashforth & Pratt, 2003; Sheep, 2006). Keeping in view, the relevance and frequency of ‘transcendence’ in the MSR literature, the present research answers this call.

This research aims at the development and validation of transcendence at workplace scale (TAW). As suggested by Hinkin (1998) and Wright et al. (2017), we follow multiple studies approach (using different samples) for scale development and validation to ascertain that the psychometric properties of the new measure, hold across different samples. We carry research in four phases, to achieve both the research objectives of – TAW scale development and validation. Phase 1 and Phase 2 relate with construct conceptualization and, measure development. Phase 3 and Phase 4 relate with measure validation. Phase 1 relate with item generation and content validation. Since, the phenomenon of transcendence has been extensively studied in other (related) domains (such as transpersonal psychology, humanistic psychology, and nursing), but not yet operationalized in organizational domain; we follow a deductive scale development approach as discussed by Hinkin (1998) and Wright et al. (2017). In the first phase, on the basis of literature review, we generate items following content validation from experts. In the next phase, we explore the initial factor structure of the construct following confirmation of the emerged factor structure. Subsequently, the third phase reports the convergent and discriminant validity of the construct under study against existing similar work domain constructs of work engagement, work meaningfulness, work centrality and work as a calling. The last phase, provides evidence for criterion-related concurrent and nomological validity of the construct, with key antecedents of organizational spirituality and personality dimensions of honesty-humility and conscientiousness, and outcomes of psychological flourishing, knowledge sharing attitude, organizational trust and employee intention to volunteer for community development programmes. We also conduct differential reliability analysis to ascertain the reliability of the new measure.

Overall, the measure of TAW exhibits good content, convergent, discriminant, criterion, and nomological validity. Differential reliability analysis results also confirm the satisfactory reliability of the measure.

This doctoral work offers a significant theoretical contribution to the evolving discourse on transcendence (in an organizational context) by defining, developing and validating the measure of transcendence at workplace (TAW). Second, through a series of quantitative studies, we developed a 12 item measure of TAW and established its validity and reliability. This study offers a scientific measure of TAW that can be used in organizational behaviour research. Third, this study supports the assertions in the literature regarding the relevance of transcendence in organizations; findings have indicated that TAW has the potential to influence work and non-work domain related attitudes and behaviour. The research also offers additional theoretical insights and contributes towards knowledge sharing and employee volunteering literature.

The psychometric properties of the scale ensure that the scale can be used by practitioners in assessing, and raising TAW, which in turn have benefits for employees, organization and the larger community or society.

The study is not without limitations. First, the reliability of the scale is limited to assessing internal consistency; it presents an opportunity for future studies to check other forms of reliability such as test-retest reliability.  Second, although we developed and validated TAW measure from predominantly Indian Hindu population, future studies can be undertaken to ascertain the criterion-related predictive validity of TAW with a range of individual, organizational and community oriented outcomes across different socio-cultural contexts. This will help in acknowledging the cross-cultural validity of TAW measure. Third, we only studied organizational culture and personality as antecedents of TAW; future studies can focus on identifying other important factors that facilitate TAW and thus contribute towards the validity and reliability claims of the measure.

Keywords: transcendence at workplace, workplace spirituality, scale construction, scale development, scale validation

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