Habit: theory, measurement, and the role in organisational behaviour

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Sizykh, Anastasia
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Many daily behaviours, emotions, and thoughts are driven by habits. While the existing research on people at work has provided a detailed account for how deliberation affects decisions, choices, and responses, there is little theorizing and empirical exploration of how habits can influence organisations and their members. The focus of this dissertation is on habits within the domain of organisational behaviour. The nature and the role of habits are examined in three essays. First, the literature on habits relevant to people at work is reviewed, summarized, and evaluated. The overview of the literature provides the reader with a condensed and pertinent description of the habit definition, approaches to the study of habits, the key findings related to personal states associated with habit performance, and an analysis of gaps between the current state of habit research and the application of these findings to people at work. Second, a theory integrating habits with motivation in order to explain work outcomes is proposed. In a nutshell, the theory suggests a dual influence of motivation and automaticity on response consistency (response being any behaviour, emotion, or thought) which, in turn, is linked to work outcomes. The theory provides a framework for studying a ubiquitous phenomenon – habits – in organisational settings. Third, in response to the call for a different measurement of habits, a Habit Automaticity and Characteristics scale is proposed and evaluated. The results of four studies demonstrate a stable factorial structure of the new scale and provide some support for convergent and divergent validity. Last but not least, part of the habit theory and the Habit Automaticity and Characteristics scale are put to test in a study of a health and safety mindfulness habit. The results largely supported the theory in the context of health (i.e., general health and well-being) but not safety outcomes. The theoretical and practical implications of the theory, measurement and the test of the theory as well as the limitations and future directions are discussed after each individual essay and in the conclusion.
Habit, Automaticity, Mindfulness, Health and safety