Adaptability and mindfulness of Chinese knowledge workers in multinational companies
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Important aspects of human activity such as international trade, travel and investment are gaining pace, in what has become known as the “Great Acceleration”. For companies, technology adoption cycles are contracting, disrupting industries and increasing the pressure on workers to adapt. At the same time, mindfulness is attracting attention for its success in improving people’s mental health, including the reduction of stress. This research investigates how a group of 13 Chinese knowledge workers perceive and respond to their rapidly changing environment, and the possible influence of mindfulness on helping them cope with change. Adopting a critical realist approach, in-depth interviews were conducted with individuals at multinational corporations in China and analysed using the Framework process. The research builds on existing theory by developing a process model of adaptability that incorporates the new concept of “adaptability gaps” that need to be addressed in response to change and also highlights the influence of age and experience on successful coping. Evidence supports to some extent the theoretical linkages between mindfulness and adaptability, especially in participants’ attitude and responses to change. Implications for professional practice include the need for organisations to identify and nurture adaptability in their work forces, and for individuals to increase their awareness of change and develop tactics to close the “adaptability gaps” that it creates.