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Work engagement: Where to next?


Guest Editors:
Arnold B. Bakker (Erasmus University Rotterdam; email: &
Simon L. Albrecht (Deakin University Melbourne; email:

Deadline for paper submissions: 4 December 2016
(Submit papers at

During the last decade, the organizational psychology and management literatures have seen a sharp increase in the number of studies on work engagement. Academics, practitioners, and all stakeholders in modern organizations remain very interested in work engagement because engagement has been linked to a broad range of positive outcomes. Work engagement, for example, has been shown to be associated with in-role performance, client satisfaction, and objective business performance.

Work engagement refers to a positive motivational state whereby employees feel full of energy and very enthusiastic about their work. With this special issue, we want to expand the existing knowledge base of work engagement by bringing together a set of high-quality papers that address important questions regarding work engagement. For example, how can work engagement be fostered and maintained in volatile, complex, and ambiguous contemporary organizational contexts? What impact do organizational change, changing technologies and new ways of working have on employee work engagement? What do we not yet know about the mechanisms that explain why work engagement has a powerful impact on performance and the short and long-term consequences of work engagement?

We need more insight in the physiological basis of work engagement, and fine-grained theories of the psychological processes leading to work engagement. Although a well-established finding is that job resources are important determinants of work engagement, it is still unclear why this is the case. Job resources may satisfy basic psychological needs or foster critical psychological states like meaningfulness, and therefore spark enthusiasm and engagement. However, could job resources simultaneously have undesirable effects, for example undermine creativity because there is no need to proactively search for job resources and solutions to problems? Although the work engagement literature has developed enormously over the past twenty years, there is still a need to further build theories to explain the phenomenon, and to use new methods to investigate work engagement at different levels (e.g., smartphone studies to investigate momentary engagement).

Some of the topics and questions that might be addressed in the special issue include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. Which theories can best explain and predict changes in work engagement?
2. What are the physiological correlates of state work engagement?
3. Do the relationships between work engagement and its predictors and outcomes differ at the within-person vs. between-person level?
4. What are the best individual, team and organizational level interventions to increase employee work engagement?
5. Do job crafting and career-management strategies have an impact on work engagement?
6. What should leaders do to foster work engagement?
7. How do related concepts such as thriving, passion and workaholism differ from work engagement?
8. Can individual employees influence team-level work engagement?
9. What influence do strategic HRM and HR practices have on work engagement?
10. What is the dark side of work engagement?
11. What are the moderators of the work engagement–performance relationship?
12. Why do engaged employees have off-days and sometimes score extremely low on engagement?
13. What does the changing nature of work mean for understanding and managing work engagement?

Albrecht, S. L. (2010). Handbook of employee engagement: Perspectives, issues, research and practice. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.
Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E., & Sanz-Vergel, A. I. (2014). Burnout and work engagement: The JD-R approach. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 1, 389–411.
Bakker, A. B., & Leiter, M. P. (2010). Work engagement: A handbook of essential theory and research. New York: Psychology Press. 
Christian, M. S., Garza, A. S., & Slaughter, J. E. (2011). Work engagement: A quantitative review and test of its relations with task and contextual performance. Personnel Psychology, 64, 89-136.
Kahn, W. A. (1990). Psychological conditions of personal engagement and disengagement at work. Academy of Management Journal, 33, 692–724.