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Luthans to present retrospective on groundbreaking career April 22
This spring, management professor Fred Luthans will retire after 48 years at UNL – a tenure lasting nearly half of the existence of his college, the College of Business Administration.
In that time, Luthans helped pioneer the understanding of how to effectively manage human behavior in organizations, which evolved into the now widely recognized discipline of organizational behavior. He also wrote the first textbook in the field, became a global leader in the Academy of Management, and, more recently, has traveled the world to consult and speak on his research.
Luthans will look back on his time at UNL, share stories and give insights in the special lecture “Fred Luthans: The Anatomy of a Career” at 4 p.m. April 22 in the Love Library Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. Those interested in attending may RSVP at http://cba.unl.edu/luthans.
Luthans is recognized for his innovative work in the study of human behavior in organizational settings, the interface between human behavior and the organization, and the organization itself. “Organizational behavior is now by far the biggest field in all of management,” he said. “It is applied psychology that focuses on the behavioral side of management and is still going strong today.” His 1973 book on the subject is recognized as the first mainline text in the field.
“I was lucky enough to be on the ground floor, but I had no other textbook to look at when I wrote mine, which is now in its 12th edition,” he said.
He also is distinguished among scholars in the field of positive organizational behavior and the study of psychological capital – the elements and interaction of self-efficacy, hope, optimism and psychological resilience – in the workplace. While attending a Gallup Co. summit on positive psychology in the 1990s, Luthans said he had a “trigger moment” when he realized he could take the concept into the workplace. The result was the founding of an approach that he called positive organizational behavior. Further applied in the workplace with psychological capital, another new field of study was founded.
“I took the constructs from positive psychology that met my four criteria of being theory- and research-driven, able to be measured through the scientific peer review process, open to development so we could manage people’s psychological capital,” he said. “Because I am in a business school it had to have performance impact. That was my quest and I believe I’ve been very successful doing that in the field of psychological capital.”