Scholarly Critique on Emotional Intelligence and Job Satisfaction

I am currently working my way through my third semester of the Information and Learning Technologies master’s program at University of Colorado, Denver.  This post is the eighth within a series of 12 scholarly critiques that I’ve been assigned to write for a course titled Research in ILT.

My academic partner Jason and I are researching how emotional intelligence relates to group learning within organizations.  With that in mind, a search on Google Scholar, using the phrase “emotional intelligence organizational learning”  brought up a study from 2008 titled Emotional Intelligence and Job Satisfaction: The Role of Organizational Learning Capability.  The study was conducted by Ricardo Chiva an Associate Professor at Universitat Jaume I in Castellon, Spain, and Joaquín Alegre, as Associate Professor at Universitat de València, in Valencia, Spain.

Google Scholar Results

In their introduction, Chiva and Alegre (2008) state that the aim of their research is to analyze whether more emotionally intelligent people tend to drive greater satisfaction from their jobs, through certain working conditions that facilitate organizational learning.  This aim suits my research well in that I am looking for ways that emotional intelligence relates to group learning within organizations, and possibly how it relates to the actual concept of organizational learning.  This paper gives a brief review of the concepts of emotional intelligence (henceforth “EI”) and organizational learning capability (“OLC”), and their relationships with job satisfaction.  The authors then explain the methodology they followed in their research as well as the results of the study.

Each concept defined:

  • EI is defined as “the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ emotions, to discriminate between them, and to use the information to guide one’s thinking and actions” (Salovey and Mayer, 1990, p. 189).
  • OLC is defined as the organizational and managerial characteristics or factors that facilitate the organizational learning process or allow an organization to learn (Dibella et al., 1996; Goh and Richards, 1997; Hult and Ferrell, 1997; Yeung et al., 1999).
  • Job satisfaction is normally defined as an employee’s affective reactions to a job based on a comparison of desired outcomes and actual outcomes (Cranny et al., 1992).

Based on the three concepts listed above, Chiva and Alegre (2008) proposed this theoretical model:

theoretical model

The thesis of the model is that EI has an indirect positive effect on job satisfaction, through OLC (p. 684).

The three main hypotheses in the study are:

  1. The relationship between EI and job satisfaction is mediated by OLC.
  2. EI is positively related to OLC.
  3. There is a positive relationship between OLC and job satisfaction.

To test their hypotheses, Chiva and Alegre (2008) presented questionnaires to 255 operations workers within eight different ceramic tile companies in Spain.  They “excluded managers in order to obtain a homogeneous set of respondents who expressed their perception of OLC in their organization” (p. 686).  A total of 157 valid questionnaires were received, which represented 61% of the study population.  The chart below represents the response rates:

response rates

 *The entire questionnaire is included at the end of this research paper on page 699.

In analyzing the data set, structural equations modeling were used.  Structural equations models have been developed in a number of academic disciplines to substantiate theory.  This approach involves developing measurement models to define constructs and then establishing relationships or structural equations among the constructs (Chiva and Alegre, 2008, p. 690).  “All in all, results provide support to confirm the research hypotheses” (Chiva and Alegre, 2008, p. 692).

“These papers aims to analyze the effect of EI on job satisfaction, by taking into consideration OLC. Results suggest that OLC plays a significant role in determining the outcomes of EI. EI should thus be conceptualized as a fit between person and environment; a purely individual attribute does not seem to make sense. The role of OLC can be explained by the fact that emotionally intelligent individuals tend to work in conditions that propitiate their emotional and social abilities (teamwork, risk taking, dialogue, participation, etc.), and consequently they are likely to have higher levels of job satisfaction. OLC might thus be considered as a stimulating working context, where emotionally intelligent people can develop their competencies and achieve satisfaction (Chiva and Alegre, 2008, p. 692).” 

Chiva and Alegre (2008) wrap up their research paper by discussing the limitations within their research:

  • Questionnaires were administered to workers only, which completely left out other stakeholders.
  • Questionnaires were completed by internal staff from a single industry, which may limit external validity.
  • The sample size limits the conclusions to Spanish ceramic tile companies, limiting the conclusions from being extended beyond that sector.
  • By using measurement scales to assess EI, OLC and job satisfaction, the researchers are assuming limitations such as subjectivity or truthfulness in the answers.

It was interesting to read such a professionally conducted study and although the statistical results are over my head, I do understand the concepts presented here and the outcomes of the actual research.  I plan to utilize a questionnaire within my own data collection, although I certainly won’t be having it tested by confirmatory factor analysis!  Reading about Chiva and Alegre’s limitations have widened my eyes to such possibilities within my own research and have given me more to think about when considering sampling size and demographic.  All in all, this was a great study to analyze and I would be interested to know how the results would differ were females as well as multiple stakeholders included in a similar study.

Header image from here.


Chiva, R., & Alegre, J. (2008). Emotional intelligence and job satisfaction: The role of organizational learning capability. Personnel Review, 37(6), 680-701.

Cranny, C.J., Smith, C.P. and Stone, E.F. (1992), Job Satisfaction: How People Feel about their Jobs and How It Affects their Performance, New Lexington, San Francisco, CA.

Dibella, A.J., Nevis, E.C. and Gould, J.M. (1996), “Understanding organizational learning capability”, Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 33 No. 3, pp. 361-79.

Goh, S. and Richards, G. (1997), “Benchmarking the learning capability of organizations”, European Management Journal, Vol. 15 No. 5, pp. 575-83.

Hult, G.T.M. and Ferrell, O.C. (1997), “Global organizational learning capability in purchasing: construct and measurement”, Journal of Business Research, Vol. 40, pp. 97-111.

Salovey, P. and Mayer, J.D. (1990), “Emotional intelligence”, Imagination, Cognition and Personality, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 185-211.

Yeung, A.K., Ulrich, D.O., Nason, S.W. and von Glinow, M. (1999), Organizational Learning Capability, Oxford University Press, New York, NY.