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Self-efficacy and work engagement: test of a chain model

Xi Wen Chan (Research School of Management, College of Business and Economics, The Australian National University, Acton, Australia)
Thomas Kalliath (Research School of Management, College of Business and Economics, The Australian National University, Acton, Australia)
Paula Brough (School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia)
Michael O’Driscoll (School of Psychology, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand)
Oi-Ling Siu (Department of Applied Psychology, Lingnan University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
Carolyn Timms (College of Healthcare Sciences, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Article publication date: 4 September 2017




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the mediating roles of work and family demands and work-life balance on the relationship between self-efficacy (to regulate work and life) and work engagement. Specifically, it seeks to explain how self-efficacy influences employees’ thought patterns and emotional reactions, which in turn enable them to cope with work and family demands, and ultimately achieve work-life balance and work engagement.


Structural equation modelling (SEM) of survey data obtained from a heterogeneous sample of 1,010 Australian employees is used to test the hypothesised chain mediation model.


The SEM results support the hypothesised model. Self-efficacy was significantly and negatively related to work and family demands, which in turn were negatively associated with work-life balance. Work-life balance, in turn, enabled employees to be engaged in their work.

Research limitations/implications

The findings support the key tenets of social cognitive theory and conservation of resources (COR) theory and demonstrate how self-efficacy can lead to work-life balance and engagement despite the presence of role demands. Study limitations (e.g. cross-sectional research design) and future research directions are discussed.


This study incorporates COR theory with social cognitive theory to improve understanding of how self-efficacy enhances work-life balance and work engagement through a self-fulfilling cycle in which employees achieve what they believe they can accomplish, and in the process, build other skills and personal resources to manage work and family challenges.



Data collection for this research was supported by the Australian Research Council Discovery Project under Grant DP0770109. The assistance of Meredith White with the development of survey instruments and data collection is also acknowledged.


Chan, X.W., Kalliath, T., Brough, P., O’Driscoll, M., Siu, O.-L. and Timms, C. (2017), "Self-efficacy and work engagement: test of a chain model", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 38 No. 6, pp. 819-834.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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