A socially embedded model of thriving at work

By: Gretchen M. Spreitzer, Kathleen Sutcliffe, Jane Dutton, Scott Sonenshein, Adam M. Grant

Spreitzer, G.M., Sutcliffe, K., Dutton, J.E., Sonenshein, S., & Grant, A. (2005). A socially embedded model of thriving at work. Organization Science, 16(5), 537-549.


Thriving describes an individual’s experience of vitality and learning. The primary goal of this paper is to develop a model that illuminates the social embeddedness of employees’ thriving at work. First, we explain why thriving is a useful theoretical construct, define thriving, and compare it to related constructs, including resilience, flourishing, subjective well-being, flow, and self-actualization. Second, we describe how work contexts facilitate agentic work behaviors, which in turn produce resources in the doing of work and serve as the engine of thriving. Third, we describe how thriving serves as a gauge to facilitate self-adaptation at work. We conclude by highlighting key theoretical contributions of the model and suggesting directions for future research.