Employee Proactivity






Employee Proactivity

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Employee Proactivity

Employee Proactivity has emerged as one of the principal topic of interest for organizational scholars in the recent years. The transition of proactivity from novelty to necessity within the modern dynamic and global organizations has sparked the proliferation of interest in the proactive orientations (Thomas, Whitman, &Viswesvaran, 2010). Proactivity has been defined as an exercise of control (Parker et al.,2006), an expression of agency (Grant & Parker, 2009), and an effort to change and challenge the existing state of affairs (Crant& Bateman,2000). Researchers focusing on the proactive behaviors in the workplace have established that proactive behaviors consist of taking charge, Speaking up, as well as upward affluence behaviors (Grant, Gino, & Hofmann, 2011). Proactive behavior is considered as second nature for some people, but many others struggle with proactivity. This is perhaps caused by the implicit beliefs about the appropriate workplace behaviors created through educational experiences, family life or culture. It is often touted as an avenue for improved organizational performance and decision-making processes, but there are limitations associated with it (Grant, Gino, & Hofmann, 2011).

Employee Proactivity is influenced by various factors, among them: empowering leadership (Parker & Wu, 2014), and organizational commitment (Thomas, Whitman, &Viswesvaran, 2010). According to the current empirical evidence, ideals are associated with various positive performance and motivational consequences. Ford (2011) examines the relationship between organizational empowerment and employee proactivity, and creates meaningful motivational linkages between empowering leadership and employee proactive personality. Similarly, Grant, Gino and Hofmann (2011) identifies the interplay of extraverted leadership and employee proactivity. The trio establishes that employees’ perceptions of the respectability of the leader mediate a moderating effect on the proactive behaviors of employees. On the other hand, the employee proactivity moderates the extraversion effect of the leaders on employees’ perceptions of the leader’s receptivity, such that highly extraverted leaders are less receptive among highly proactive employees (Grant, Gino, & Hofmann, 2011). Affective organizational commitment has also been found to influence employee proactivity (Thomas, Whitman, &Viswesvaran, 2010). This is because employees that are affectively committed get inspired by their feelings of personal investment in the organization to undertake initiative-based goal striving (Den Hartog&Belschak, 2007).

DuBrin (2013) argues that the relationship between employee proactivity and performance can at times work in the reverse. For instance, a dissatisfied employee may lack an incentive of moving beyond his/her job description, or develop a sense of learned helplessness, which inhibits proactivity (DuBrin, 2013). Emotional instability has also been established as another major inhibitor of proactivity. Individuals with low emotional stability levels are likely to experience stifling levels of depression, anxiety and vulnerability, which can inhibit their action-oriented focus required of proactive influence (Thomas, Whitman, &Viswesvaran, 2010).

Proactivity involves anticipating events and taking control to alter the future of events. This may involve speaking out ideas, self-initiating improved work approaches and even active seeking of feedback (Parker & Wu, 2014). A great deal of research has shown the value of proactive behavior for outcomes such as career success, organizational innovation, entrepreneurship, and job performance. Proactivity is valued when it brings forth positive outcomes, rather than the negatives. Potential disadvantages of employee proactivity include expressing concerns that at times backfire, a poor reputation that may be associated with proactive behaviors, or initiating work activities that may turn out to be detrimental (DuBrin,2013).However, a key justification for studying employee proactivity in organizations is that it contributes to critical organizational outcomes such as job performance and satisfaction.


Crant, J. M., & Bateman, T. S. (2000). Charismatic leadership viewed from above: The impact of proactive personality. Journal of organizational Behavior21(1), 63-75. Available at: http://myweb.usf.edu/~jdorio/Charismatic%20leadership%20viewed%20from%20above%20The%20impact%20of%20proactive%20personality.pdf.

Den Hartog, D. N., &Belschak, F. D. (2007). Personal initiative, commitment and affect at work. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology,80(4), 601-622. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1348/096317906X171442/abstract

DuBrin, A. J. (2013). Proactive personality and behavior for individual and organizational productivity. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Ford, D. K. (2011). An Evaluation of Moderating Influences of Employee Proactive Personality: Empowerment and Political Skill. Dissertations and Theses. Paper 515. Available at: http://pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1514&context=open_access_etds

Grant, A. M., & Parker, S. K. (2009). 7 redesigning work design theories: the rise of relational and proactive perspectives. The Academy of Management Annals3(1), 317-375. Available at: https://mgmt.wharton.upenn.edu/files/?whdmsaction=public:main.file&fileID=4169.

Grant, A. M., Gino, F., & Hofmann, D. A. (2011). Reversing the extraverted leadership advantage: The role of employee proactivity. Academy of Management Journal54(3), 528-550. Available at: http://amj.aom.org/content/54/3/528.abstract

Parker, S. K., & Wu, C. H. (2014). Leading for proactivity: How leaders cultivate staff who make things happen. Oxford University Press.

Parker, S. K., Williams, H. M., & Turner, N. (2006). Modeling the antecedents of proactive behavior at work. Journal of applied psychology,91(3), 636. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16737360

Thomas, J. P., Whitman, D. S., &Viswesvaran, C. (2010). Employee proactivity in organizations: A comparative meta‐analysis of emergent proactive constructs. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology83(2), 275-300. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/211395102_Employee_Proactivity_in_Organizations_A_Comparative_Meta-Analysis_of_Emergent_Proactive_Constructs

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