Original Research

The relationship between mindfulness and individual adaptability in dynamic work contexts

Rhys Johnstone, Anthony Wilson-Prangley
South African Journal of Business Management | Vol 52, No 1 | a2421 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajbm.v52i1.2421 | © 2021 Rhys Johnstone, Anthony Wilson-Prangley | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 October 2020 | Published: 22 July 2021

About the author(s)

Rhys Johnstone, Department of Strategy and Marketing, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, Johannesburg, South Africa
Anthony Wilson-Prangley, Department of Strategy and Marketing, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Purpose: Individual adaptability has been proposed as a source of adaptive performance. This is an increasingly important performance dimension in dynamic contexts. Mindfulness has been demonstrated to improve dimensions of performance and well-being in the workplace, but the underlying mechanisms of this relationship are not well understood. Addressing this gap, the study hypothesised a link between mindfulness and individual adaptability in dynamic work contexts.

Design/methodology/approach: One hundred and ninety-eight individuals in dynamic work contexts completed a self-rating survey that measured mindfulness and a multifactor measure of individual adaptability. These data were then analysed to test the hypotheses developed.

Findings/results: A significant positive relationship was found between mindfulness and five dimensions of adaptability (work-stress adaptability, uncertainty adaptability, crisis adaptability, creative problem-solving adaptability and learning adaptability). Interpersonal and cultural adaptability were not found to correlate with mindfulness.

Practical implications: This study demonstrates that mindfulness is not simply a stress management skill but is correlated with key aspects of adaptability such as learning and problem-solving. The findings suggest it may be possible to enhance individual adaptability through Mindfulness-Based Interventions and thus support adaptive performance.

Originality/value: This study is original in examining the relationship between mindfulness and individual adaptability in the workplace. This study highlights how different methods of operationalising mindfulness can lead to different conclusions. It points to the value of broader measures of mindfulness that capture attitudinal dimensions. In addition, as few studies on mindfulness in African contexts have been performed, this study broadens the research contexts in which mindfulness is understood.


Keywords

mindfulness; individual adaptability; adaptive performance; dynamic contexts; uncertainty.

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