Applications of Positive Organizational Scholarship in Institutions of Higher Education

By: Kim S. Cameron

Cameron K. (2021) Applications of Positive Organizational Scholarship in Institutions of Higher Education. In: Kern M.L., Wehmeyer M.L. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Positive Education. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.


Positive organizational scholarship (POS) is the study of that which is positive, flourishing, and life-giving in organizations. It considers the processes and dynamics that occur in and through organizations, in contrast to a focus on individual attitudes and emotions. Positive organizational scholarship has rarely been investigated in institutions of higher education, and this chapter provides two case studies that illustrate its relevance in that setting. The chapter first provides a discussion of the unique characteristics of POS compared to, for example, positive psychology and other approaches to the positive, and it highlights the importance of positive organizational dynamics in accounting for high levels of performance in organizations. The chapter describes how these dynamics have been successfully applied within two institutions of higher education to benefit not only traditional markers of success such as student achievement and wellbeing, but also the collective performance of the overall institution. The specific practices that led to extraordinarily successful outcomes are discussed, and they provide evidence that, in addition to the effects of positive psychology on individuals—especially students—the outcomes of entire institutions can be substantially affected in positive directions by adopting positive practices.