Fueling the fire: Applying self-expansion theory to work passion

Restricted (Penn State Only)
Krannitz, Morgan Ashley
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
October 02, 2015
Committee Members:
  • Alicia Grandey, Dissertation Advisor
  • Rick R Jacobs, Committee Member
  • Songqi Liu, Committee Member
  • David Manuel Almeida, Committee Member
  • Work passion
  • work engagement
  • self-expansion
  • newcomers
  • self-concept
Work passion is a commonly discussed yet poorly understood construct among organizational researchers and practitioners. The present study sought to provide clarity to the construct and its significance to the workplace by providing the first theoretically derived definition and model of work passion. This was accomplished by applying the self-expansion model from the romantic relationships literature to the work domain. Then, using this model and conceptualizing work as the target of a relationship, a longitudinal model of work passion was proposed in which newcomer passion facilitates work engagement, and this engagement then fuels long-term passion when self-expansion opportunities are present. In addition, self-expansion opportunities were proposed to moderate the reciprocal relationship between long-term passion and long-term engagement. To test the paper’s hypotheses, three studies were conducted. In Studies 1 and 2, the measurement of work passion as a higher-order construct and its relation with key engagement behaviors were examined using upper-level college students with work experience (n = 306) and faculty and staff from a small private liberal arts college (n = 161). In Study 3, the conditions under which work passion is sustained over time were examined using a two-wave cross-lagged design with job newcomers recruited through Mechanical Turk (n = 165). Results provided some support for the proposed work passion model, and self-expansion opportunities were identified as a crucial driver of both work passion as well as work engagement. The implications of the study and directions for future research are discussed.