Don't leave your heart at home

Else Ouweneel (Work and Organizational Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands)
Pascale M. Le Blanc (Human Performance Management Group, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, The Netherlands)
Wilmar B. Schaufeli (Work and Organizational Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Publication date: 19 October 2012



The main objective of this study is to apply broaden‐and‐build theory to occupational wellbeing. More specifically, it seeks to test whether positive emotions “build” resources and to what extent they contribute to work engagement through an increase in personal or job resources. Additionally, it aims to hypothesize that positive emotions, resources, and work engagement are reciprocally related to each other in a way akin to a gain cycle.


In order to test whether positive emotions, personal and job resources, and work engagement are related over time, a structural equation model was constructed. The model was based on two waves of data, with a time lag of six months.


Results show a reciprocal relationship between positive emotions and personal resources. Furthermore, there is a causal effect of personal resources on work engagement and a reversed causal effect of work engagement on positive emotions. Most surprising is the fact that no relationships with job resources are found to be significant.

Research limitations/implications

Because the authors exclusively used self‐report measures to assess positive emotions, resources, and work engagement, the cross‐paths might have been inflated.

Practical implications

The results underline the importance of increasing both positive emotions and the level of personal resources in order to create an engaged workforce.


The study adds to the existing literature in the sense that the research model entailed positive emotions as a “novel” variable in the context of resources and work engagement. The model recognized the building capacity of positive emotions as well as the potential of personal resources in predicting work engagement.



Ouweneel, E., Le Blanc, P. and Schaufeli, W. (2012), "Don't leave your heart at home", Career Development International, Vol. 17 No. 6, pp. 537-556.

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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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