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Positive Organizational Work Experiences as an Antidote to Poverty and Exploitation

The project: Work can be a vehicle for dehumanization of workers — think human trafficking, or even legitimate opportunities that use workers as commodities. Moreover, in vulnerable populations in particular, the realities of housing, transportation, or childcare may serve as critical barriers to employment. This project aimed to to study how positive organizations instill work with dignity and empowerment, and nurture thriving individuals with better access to resources that help alleviate poverty.

The process: Researchers performed a small-scale evaluation of positive organizations that balance the productivity and well-being of vulnerable employee populations. Building on positive organizational scholarship, the analysis assessed positive organizational practices such as a purpose-driven mission, openness to failure, and authenticity, as well as the experienced thriving and relationship quality of vulnerable employees. Researchers continue to analyze qualitative data gathered through interviews with employees.

In exploring the role of positive organizational practices in poverty reduction, this research may illuminate both long- and short-term effects for employees in positive workplaces, from psychological healing to the growth of a sustainable career path.

Mari Kira, U-M Department of Psychology, Center for Positive Organizations
Bridgette Carr, U-M Law School, Center for Positive Organizations
Christina Carmichael, Project Director, The Rehumanizing Workplace Project