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RSM Seminar | Claire Petelczyc

RSM Seminar | Claire Petelczyc

Play at work (Final PhD Oral Presentation)

There has been a growing interest in play at work in recent times. However, despite its popularity in contemporary organisations such as Google and Facebook, there is still considerable debate in the academic literature about the effects of play in the workplace. On the one hand, many have embraced the idea that play at work can have positive attitudinal, social, and behavioural consequences. However, others believe that play can detract from organisational efficiency, and that work and play are separate domains and should be kept that way. 

Research on play at work to date, which has focused disproportionately on the drivers and positive outcomes of play, is diffuse and has different theoretical bases. Little consideration has been given to potential dysfunctional and negative outcomes associated with playing at work. Also, little is known about why people engage in play at work, and how playing at work leads to specific positive or negative outcomes.

This research program draws on conservation of resources theory as an overarching theoretical lens through which to examine boundary conditions, mechanisms and both positive and negative consequences of play at work. Through a review and two empirical studies, the impact of play, operationalised as both an activity and as a trait, is investigated. The first empirical study uses an experimental design to investigate the impact of different types of play (as a state) on negotiation, and the second uses a survey design to investigate the impact of playfulness (as an individual difference variable) on in-role performance and counterproductive work behaviours. Relational and psychological resources are proposed as the linking mechanisms between play and outcomes, and two moderators are investigated.

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