Opening the black box
Examining the nomological network of work ability and its role in organizational research
Brady, G. M., Truxillo, D. M., Cadiz, D. M., Rineer, J. R., Caughlin, D. E., & Bodner, T. (2019). Opening the black box: Examining the nomological network of work ability and its role in organizational research. Journal of Applied Psychology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/apl0000454
The aging of the industrialized workforce has spurred research on how to support people working later in life. Within this context, the concept of work ability, or an employee's ability to continue working in their job, has been introduced as an explanatory mechanism for understanding employee disability, wellbeing, attitudes, and behavior. However, the work ability concept has evolved across disparate literatures with multiple, content-diverse measures and often with little consideration of theory or examination of its nomological network. Using the job demands-resources model as a framework, we present a meta-analytic summary (k = 247; N = 312,987) of work ability's correlates and potential moderators of these relationships. Taken together, we found consistent negative relationships between job demands and work ability, and consistent positive relationships between job and personal resources and work ability. Work ability was also associated with important job outcomes including job attitudes and behaviors such as absenteeism and retirement. Measures of work ability that include both perceived and objective components generally showed stronger relationships than did exclusively perceptual measures, and occupation type was a significant moderator of certain relations between work ability and its correlates. We supplemented this meta-analysis with a primary data collection to examine differences between perceived work ability and the conceptually similar variables of self-efficacy and perceived fit, demonstrating that perceived work ability can explain incremental variance in job- and health-related variables. Our discussion focuses on the value of the work ability construct for both research and practice and future directions for work ability research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).