Passion has been discussed in the popular press as a valuable driver for commitment, performance, and well-being. Although academics in disciplines such as literature and religious studies have touched on the concept historically, only in the early 21st century did comprehensive efforts in psychology become focused on developing nonromantic passion conceptually and studying it empirically. At about the same time, organizational scholars started to acknowledge the role of passion in work. Passion research in both psychology and organizational science has advanced our understanding of what passion is and how it plays a role in both work and leisure activities. As a result of these advancements, most of today’s nonromantic passion research defines passion as “a strong inclination toward an activity that people like, that they find important, and in which they invest time and energy” (see Vallerand, et al. 2003, cited under Introductory Works, p. 757). When targeted toward a specific activity, passion is neither a personality trait nor an inclination generalized to all kinds of activities. In other words, the activity in question and how the individual identifies with that activity is of central importance for understanding both its antecedents and outcomes. A person can thus be highly passionate about a certain activity such as accounting, but at the same time have no passion for another activity, such as playing tennis. While this sounds like common sense, it contrasts significantly with the popular notion of “passionate persons,” who have been viewed generally as passionate rather than being passionate for a specific activity. Conceptualizing passion as relating to a certain activity rather than considering it as a stable trait has opened avenues to examine questions such as what fosters passion, how passion may vary over time, and how passion for an activity may interfere with life’s other activities. To reflect advancements in the psychology literature and compare those to still nascent passion research in the organizational literature, the readings in this article emphasize works in psychology that are relevant for organizations and management.
No single work gives a comprehensive review of passion research. The topic is quite new, and yet already two main groups of passion researchers have emerged: those publishing in psychology and those publishing in business and management. For an overview of research on the dualistic model of passion—the main framework in psychology research as introduced in Vallerand, et al. 2003—the review in Vallerand 2010 is a perfect start. To begin to understand passion in the organizational context, Ho, et al. 2011 provides an excellent conceptualization of passion in the work context and Vallerand, et al. 2014 reviews research on passion in the workplace. Cardon, et al. 2009 provides even further detail by conceptualizing the nature of entrepreneurial passion.
Cardon, Melissa S., Joakim Wincent, Jagdip Singh, and Mateja Drnovšek. “The Nature and Experience of Entrepreneurial Passion.” Academy of Management Review 34.3 (2009): 511–532.
Forerunners in conceptualizing entrepreneurial passion. The authors present a theoretical model illustrating the effects of entrepreneurial passion on goal-related cognitions, entrepreneurial behaviors, and entrepreneurial effectiveness.
Ho, Violet T., Sze-Sze Wong, and Chay Hoon Lee. “A Tale of Passion: Linking Job Passion and Cognitive Engagement to Employee Work Performance.” Journal of Management Studies 48.1 (2011): 26–47.
Pioneers in introducing the Vallerand, et al. 2003 dualistic model of passion in the organizational literature. In doing so, these authors were the first to provide a rigorous conceptualization of job passion and to examine its effect on work performance.
Vallerand, Robert J. “On Passion for Life Activities: The Dualistic Model of Passion.” Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 42 (2010): 97–193.
Reviews research building on the dualistic model of passion, which was introduced by Vallerand, et al. 2003. Presents how passion is distinct from other similar constructs and describes the intrapersonal and interpersonal outcomes of passion.
Vallerand, Robert J., Céline Blanchard, Geneviève A. Mageau, et al. “Les Passions de L’Ame: On Obsessive and Harmonious Passion.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 85.4 (2003): 756–767.
The seminal reference to the dualistic model of passion, this work defines passion and what distinguishes harmonious passion from obsessive passion. The starting point for the stream of research on harmonious and obsessive passion.
Vallerand, Robert J., Nathalie Houlfort, and Jacques Forest. “Passion for Work: Determinants and Outcomes.” In Oxford Handbooks Online: The Oxford Handbook of Work Engagement, Motivation, and Self-Determination Theory. Edited by Marylène Gagné. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.
Drawing upon the dualistic model of passion, this chapter reviews ten years of research on passion in the workplace. The discussion centers on passion determinants (e.g., personal and social factors) and outcomes (e.g., well-being, interpersonal relationships, and performance). Access by subscription.
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