Robert Eisenberger, Ph.D.

Robert Eisenberger

Professor
Professor of Psychology (College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences)
Professor of Management (C. T. Bauer College of Business)


Ph.D., University of California, Riverside

126 Heyne Building
713-743-3159
reisenberger2@uh.edu
www.uh.edu/Eisenberger  

Teaching

PSYC 7363: Organizational Psychology
PSYC 8393: Job Attitudes
PSYC 8393: Applied Research
PSYC 8393: Theory Building

Teaching Philosophy

My goal is to teach students to develop a broad understanding of the subject matter and to develop their ability to think critically and creatively about the field of study.

Social Psychologists have found that a majority of students go through their undergraduate courses in psychology retaining many of the basic misconceptions that they started out with. This may be due in part to the fact that so much knowledge has been accumulated in psychology that it is easy to wind up memorizing a multitude of facts in classes to prepare for tests while failing to understand important principles that organize those facts. Therefore, students need to understand the basic principles that that make sense of the diversity of information.

Knowledge in psychology as all science is cumulative with many diversions from simple progress. Understanding the controversies in psychology helps students to better understand how science develops. This Understanding is also promoted by learning to think critically and creatively about the topic. The best way for students to do this is to become actively engaged in their course, thinking about what makes sense and what does not, what they agree with and what they do not, and how they might develop alternative interpretations for the phenomena being discussed.

I very much enjoy research with students as part of the educational process. Students are my partners in research and with them I have co-authored many of my conference papers and publications. Whenever discussing research readings, I generally ask all of us to focus on three issues for discussion: What do I not understand? What do I disagree with? What ideas do the readings suggest for testing prior theories or for new theoretical development? I especially enjoy working with students who are just learning a field. They have enough knowledge to begin to ask interesting questions but not so much knowledge that they begin to unconsciously accept the presumptions in the area without question. Some of my best collaborative research has come from working with students who were learning about a new field and came up with very interesting suggestions.

Research Interests

My students, colleagues, and I study perceived organizational support, motivation for creativity, and enjoyment of nature. Most of my research concerns the first topic, as described below.

Employers are typically concerned with increasing employee commitment and performance. My organizational support theory reverses this stance by first considering employees’ beliefs concerning their valuation by the organization. Organizational support theory holds that (a) employees form general beliefs concerning how much the organization values their contributions and cares about their well-being (perceived organizational support, or POS), (b) POS is strongly influenced by the favorableness of treatment that employees view as discretionary as opposed to treatment that the organization appears pressured or forced to provide, (c) based on the norm of reciprocity, employees return supportive treatment by helping the organization meet its objectives, and (d) POS fulfils socioemotional needs, resulting in an emotional attachment to the organization.

We know from over 600 scientific studies that perceived organizational support has positive consequences for both employees and their organizations. In the first place, perceived organizational support increases employees’ psychological well-being. Employees with high POS are in a more positive mood at work, are more satisfied with their jobs, believe they make a more important contribution at work, experience less stress, and report less conflict between home and work. Second, POS produces a more favorable orientation by employees toward their organization and work. Employees with high POS have a stronger positive emotional bond to the organization and trust the organization more. They have an increased confidence in their ability to do good work, identify more with their jobs, and are more engaged in their work. Third, POS influences important workplace behaviors. Employees with high POS show superior performance of standard job activities and voluntary actions that help the organization meet its objectives. Such employees treat customers better. They are more creative, violate organizational norms less often, and are less likely to quit the organization. For more information visit my website at www.uh.edu/Eisenberger.

The following samples of current projects give the flavor of the research I am carrying out with my students and colleagues.  

  1. We have been studying how employees generalize their favorable or unfavorable experiences with their supervisor to the organization as a whole, leading to positive actions or retribution directed toward the organization.
  2. We are engaged in studies examining how leaders’ from perceptions concerning their positive valuation by subordinates as a group and respond with supportive leadership.  .
  3. We have been considering how employee perceptions of organizational effectiveness complement perceived organizational support in contributing to employees’ emotional attachment to the organization.

 

Sample Publications

Eisenberger, R., Shoss, M. K., Karagonlar, G., Gonzalez-Morales, M. G., Wickham, R., & Buffardi, L. C. (2014). The supervisor POS – LMX – subordinate POS chain: Moderation by reciprocation wariness and supervisor’s organizational embodiment. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 35, 635-656.

Shoss, M., Eisenberger, R., Restubog, S. L. D., & Zagenczyk, T. J. (2013). Blaming the organization for abusive supervision: The roles of perceived organizational support and supervisor’s organizational embodiment. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98, 158-168.

Hayton, J. C., Carnabuci, G., & Eisenberger, R. (2012). With a little help from my colleagues: A social embeddedness approach to perceived organizational support, Journal of Organizational Behavior, 33, 235-249.

Eisenberger, R., & Stinglhamber, F. (2011). Perceived organizational support: Fostering   enthusiastic and productive employees. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Books.

Eisenberger, R., Karagonlar, G., Stinglhamber, F., Neves, P., Becker, T. E., Gonzalez-Morales, M. G., & Steiger-Mueller, M. (2010). Leader-member exchange and affective organizational commitment: The contribution of supervisor’s organizational embodiment. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95, 1085-1103

Eisenberger, R., Sucharski, I. L., Yalowitz, S., Kent, R. J., Loomis, R. J., Jones, J. R., Paylor, S., Aselage, J., Steiger Mueller, M., & McLauglin, J. P. (2010). The motive for sensory pleasure: Enjoyment of nature and its representation in painting, music, and literature. Journal of Personality, 78, 599-638.

Eisenberger, R., & Aselage, J. (2009). Incremental effects of reward on experienced performance pressure: Positive outcomes for intrinsic interest and creativity.  Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30, 95-117.

Rhoades, L, & Eisenberger, R. (2002). Perceived organizational support: A review of the literature. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 698-714.