Constructing self‐efficacy at work: a person‐centered perspective

Svenja Tams (University of Bath, Bath, UK)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Publication date: 8 February 2008



The purpose of this paper is to advance a person‐centered perspective of self‐efficacy formation. Examining people's ways of thinking about self‐efficacy at work broadens one's perspective beyond training and feedback as principal means for developing self‐efficacy.


This qualitative paper analyses 145 interviews with 74 participants from six settings (management consulting, brand design, MBA job search, restaurant service, telemarketing, and financial trading).


The paper finds that the coding suggested ten specific ways of thinking about self‐efficacy. These were grouped according to two modes of thinking – attending and reflecting – and two focuses – one directed at doing one's task and the other directed at one's environment. In combination, they represent four types of thinking: attending to one's doing, attending to one's environment, reflecting upon one's doing, and taking a stance towards one's environment.

Research limitations/implications

The paper shows that further research needs to strengthen the validity of the identified ways of thinking about self‐efficacy and examine their determinants and outcomes.

Practical implications

The paper proposes two implications for HR development practice. First, people's self‐management capacity may be improved by coaching and training that raise mindfulness of one's ways of constructing self‐efficacy. Second, the effectiveness of performance appraisal and 360° feedback may be improved by managers, HR practitioners and people themselves giving more attention to co‐constructing relevant ways of thinking about self‐efficacy.


Adopting a person‐centered perspective, this paper proposes to view self‐efficacy formation as a constructivist process – that is proactive, self‐organizing and coherence‐building.



Tams, S. (2008), "Constructing self‐efficacy at work: a person‐centered perspective", Personnel Review, Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 165-183.

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