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Locus of control and its relation to working life: studies from the fields of vocational rehabilitation and small firms in Sweden
Luleå tekniska universitet.
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis investigates in four studies the impact of the psychological construct internal versus external control of reinforcement on Swedish working life in two distinct areas. The first is that of vocational rehabilitation, explored in the first two studies; the second is that of leadership style in small firms. Study I had as its aim to describe the situation of individuals (n = 143) at the start of vocational rehabilitation in Sweden. An assessment was therefore carried out of the possible influence of the one contextual and five individual factors on health, duration of sick leave, and unemployment. Results: Locus of control was found to exert a notable influence on the differences between the individuals in the study sample, with persons of external locus of control having a less favourable point of departure at the start of vocational rehabilitation compared to other groups. The main aim of Study II was to assess the impact of locus of control on vocational rehabilitation outcomes. The findings of the study suggest that the construct locus of control plays even here an important role. Perceived health status, the type of rehabilitation program, the accumulated duration of both sick leave and unemployment at the start of rehabilitation, and whether dwelling in an urban or a rural area are other factors that also influence outcomes. Further vocational rehabilitation programs were found to be negatively correlated to successful outcomes, meaning that workplace training with little or no involvement of professionals gives better results than other programs. Study III explored the impact of locus of control on how leaders of small and medium-size businesses (n =146) perceive network usage and value with respect to their own firms. Findings from this study suggest that the locus of control orientation of owner-managers of small and medium-size businesses influences participation in and usage of business networks and that membership in informal networks plays an important role for gaining and using attendant benefits. From a micro perspective, this result sheds light on the importance of leadership style for participation in and usage of networks. Study IV investigates the effects of locus of control on financial performance and business strategy in small firms (n=146). In so doing, it was hypothesised that there exist bivariate associations between locus of control and financial performance of small firms, as well as three other factors that are assumed to influence financial performance. These three factors are: the style of management adopted by owner-mangers, known as strategic posture; networking activities of owner-mangers, and the business environment as perceived by owner-mangers. Results give some support to the assumption that relations exist between locus of control and financial performance as well as business strategy. Findings even suggest that firms’ branch of commerce moderates the impact of locus of control. Locus of control was further found to have relatively strong associations with the style of leadership adopted. The conclusion drawn from the work presented here is that locus of control is a factor of some importance for the vocational rehabilitation process as well as the management of small firms, and as such has a definite role to play in working life. It is argued that differences found between persons of internal and those of external orientation in the four studies presented are well described in the general statement that ‘internals’ have a higher degree of generalized expectancy that reinforcements are contingent upon their own behaviour than ‘externals’ and that this is crucial to explaining the differences between the cognitive processes and behaviour of the two categories. Internals’ attitudes create “spaces of action” that are in themselves opportunities that can be utilized for the achievement of goals. Externals, on the other hand, have greater difficulties in creating and utilizing “spaces of action”. Important is the assumption that a person’s locus of control can be changed, thereby making the concept suitable for application in practical situations in working life through suitable interventions in the environment. This is an area that needs to be researched more thoroughly, however.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet, 2005. , 51 p.
Doctoral thesis / Luleå University of Technology 1 jan 1997 → …, ISSN 1402-1544 ; 2005:13
Research subject
Engineering Psychology
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-18058Local ID: 69b6d1e0-5311-11db-9592-000ea68e967bOAI: diva2:991064
Godkänd; 2005; 20061003 (ysko)Available from: 2016-09-29 Created: 2016-09-29Bibliographically approved

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