Development climate and work engagement: a multilevel study

Publication Date07 August 2017
AuthorRicha Chaudhary,Santosh Rangnekar
SubjectHR & organizational behaviour,Global HRM
Development climate and work
engagement: a multilevel study
Richa Chaudhary
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences,
Indian Institute of Technology Patna, Patna, India, and
Santosh Rangnekar
Department of Management Studies, IIT Roorkee, Roorkee, India
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the relative impact of psychological HRD climate and
HRD climate quality on work engagement. In addition, the paper attempts to examine the boundary
conditions of the proposed relationship by proposing and testing HRD climate strength as the moderator of
the relationship between psychological HRD climate, HRD climate quality and work engagement.
Design/methodology/approach Data were collected from a total of 375 business executives from select
business organizations in India using standardized measurement instruments. As the present study involved
variables at different levels of analysis, hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) approach was utilized for the
purpose of data analyses.
Findings The results of HLM revealed that the shared employee perception of development climate
accounted for significant percentage of between person variance in work engagement above and beyond
individual climate perceptions. HRD climate strength was found to moderate the psychological HRD climate
and work engagement relationship but the interaction of HRD climate strength with HRD climate quality did
not add further to the understanding of work engagement process.
Practical implications The findings of the present research imply that creating a climate of human
resource development is a compelling intervention, which could provide competitive advantage to the firm in
terms of enhanced work engagement levels among employees.
Originality/value The study established the importance of socialsystem or social interaction climatein its
own right by demonstrating its unique effects on individual attitudes over individualsidiosyncraticperceptions.
Keywords Organizational psychology, Human resource development, Organizational behaviour,
Work engagement, Multilevel study
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Work engagement, defined as positive fulfilling work-related state of mind characterized by
vigor, dedication and absorption (Schaufeli et al., 2002), has become a strategic imperative
for the organizations in the current business environment (Shuck and Reio, 2011). Since, the
research has clearly established the importance of work engagement in predicting critical
workplace outcomes such as performance (Bakker and Bal, 2010), financial returns
(Xanthopoulou et al., 2009a), customer satisfaction (Mittal et al., 2016), innovative behavior
(Slatten and Mehmetoglu, 2011) lower absenteeism, low turnover rates and enhanced job
satisfaction (Alarcon and Edwards, 2011; Saks, 2006), employers are in continuous search of
the ways to build an engaged workforce. Adding to the above, Eldor (2016) in his attempt to
build an enriching theoretical model of work engagement proposed that promoting work
engagement amongst employees can provide competitive advantage to the organizations.
Since employeesperceptions of the work environment have been demonstrated to
significantly influence work-related attitudes such as job satisfaction and employee
commitment (Hackman and Oldham, 1980; Warr, 2007), they could be expected to have
significant influence on employeeswork engagement. To capture the perceptions of the
work context, the construct of work climate has proven valuable (Schulte et al., 2006).
Climate is generally understood at both the individual (psychological climate) and the
organizational level of analysis (organizational climate). Psychological climate refers to
Evidence-based HRM: a Global
Forum for Empirical Scholarship
Vol. 5 No. 2, 2017
pp. 166-182
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/EBHRM-01-2016-0001
Received 22 January 2016
Revised 18 August 2016
21 September 2016
Accepted 22 September 2016
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
how employees perceive their organizational environment (Brown and Leigh, 1996).
It captures the meaningful psychological representations made by individuals relative to
the structures, processes, and events that occur in the organization (Rousseau, 1988).
Organizational climate exists when psychological climate perceptions are shared among
employees of a work unit. Thus, psychological climate is the property of an individual, but
when shared across the employees of an organization it becomes an organizational level
construct and represents the climate of an organization (Glisson and James, 2002).
Organizational climate or the average of organization membersclimate perceptions has
been referred to as climate quality by several researchers (Van Vianen et al., 2011).
It is important to note here that the existence of organizational climate does not mean that
there is a perfect agreement among the individuals. There exists some variability in
perceptions within the group which is captured in terms of climate strength (Dawson et al.,
2008). Climate strength refers to the level of consensus in the climate perceptions of the
organizational members (Lindell and Brandt, 2000). High consensus represents strong
climates where members have uniform perceptions of the events in the work environment,
whereas low consensus represents weak climate where members differ from each other in
their perceptions of organizational events (Ostroff and Bowen, 2000). Thus, climate quality
and climate strength should provide adequate representations of the organizational
climate. Therefore, we operationalize organizational climate in terms of both climate quality
and climate strength.
The present study utilizes a multilevel approach to investigate the relative impact of
psychological and organizational HRD climate (climate quality and climate strength) on
employeeswork engagement. In addition, the study attempts to understand the boundary
conditions of the proposed relationships among study variables by proposing and testing
climate strength as moderator of HRD climate-work engagement relationship.
This study extends previous research in various ways. First, only a few studies have
made an attempt to examine the direct impact of HRD climate perceptions on employee
level outcomes by using multilevel approaches. Second, research has largely focused on
examining the impact of climate perceptions of individuals on their work-related attitudes
and behaviors to the neglect of social context. Third, independent studies have been
undertaken to demonstrate the impact of individualsclimate perceptions and shared
climate perceptions, with very few examining their relative impact on workplace
outcomes, by including them in a single study. Fourth, most of the studies have included
only climate quality to represent organizational climate and have ignored climate strength
completely. Few studies have examined the influence of both climate quality and climate
strength and have largely focused on organizational level outcomes such as performance
and customer experiences to the neglect of individual level outcomes (Dawson et al., 2008;
Schneider et al., 2002). Rather than focusing on general or service climate perceptions, this
paper analyzes the role of HRD climate strength, which is fairly an unexplored construct
in the area. Moreover, extant literature has largely focused on examining the influence of
climate perceptions on job satisfaction, organizational commitment, turnover intentions,
and performance to the neglect of work engagement.
2. Review of literature and research hypotheses
Psychological climate has been reported to relate significantly with a wide variety of
individual level outcomes such as job satisfaction, job involvement, and employee
commitment (Carr et al., 2003; Parker et al., 2003). Though research around the construct of
HRD climate is scarce, some studies have shown that the individualsperceptions of HRD
climate relate significantly with job satisfaction and employee commitment (Rohmetra, 1998;
Purang, 2008). Several studies in the work engagement literature have also reported a
significant positive association between work engagement and favorable perceptions of
climate and

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