Why Organization-Based Self-Esteem Is So Important

Topic(s): job performance, job satisfaction, organizational commitment
Publication: Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology 
Article: A meta-analysis of the predictors and consequences of organization-based self esteem
Authors: N.A. Bowling, K.J. Eschleman, Q. Wang, C. Kirkendall, G. Alarcon
Reviewed by: Charleen Maher

Organization-based self-esteem (OBSE) is a role-specific type of self-esteem that describes employee beliefs about their value and competence as a member of an organization. So, what predicts OBSE in employees and what are the outcomes of experiencing OBSE?


A recent meta-analysis (or statistical combination of many past studies) conducted by Bowling and colleagues found that OSBE is predicted by the dispositional traits of self-esteem and self-efficacy (belief in one’s own ability). Additionally, job complexity, autonomy, perceived organizational support, and social support from managers and coworkers were working conditions that predicted OBSE in employees. As for outcomes, the study found that OBSE was positively related to job satisfaction, organizational commitment, job involvement, job performance, and organizational citizenship behavior (which refers to going the extra mile). For employees, OBSE is also related to a lower likelihood of depression and physical health symptoms. Interestingly, OBSE was a stronger predictor of these work-related criteria than general self-esteem was. This makes sense when you consider that OBSE is a work role-specific type of self-esteem.


Taking these results together, if an organization wants to influence work-related criteria (e.g. commitment, involvement, performance) for its employees, it can consider lending more job complexity, autonomy and support to its employees. Although it is difficult to tinker with more stable dispositional traits (e.g. self-efficacy), organizational interventions that increase perceptions of autonomy or support may lead to more OBSE among employees. Given the strong relationships found in this study, organization-based self-esteem might be a good indicator of the presence of work-related attitudes.


Bowling, N. A., Eschleman, K. J., Wang, Q., Kirkendall, C.,& Alarcon, G. (2010). A meta-analysis of the predictors and consequences of organization-based self esteem. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 83(3), 601-626.