When and Why People Engage in Different Forms of Proactive Behavior: Interactive Effects of Self-Construals and Work Characteristics

Wu, C. H., Parker, S. K., Wu, L. Z. & Lee, C.. When and why people engage in different forms of proactive behavior: Interactive effects of self-construals and work characteristics. Academy of Management Journal, Forthcoming

71 Pages Posted: 25 May 2017

See all articles by Chia‐Huei Wu

Chia‐Huei Wu

Durham University

Sharon K. Parker

The University of Western Australia

Long-Zeng Wu

Xiamen University

Cynthia Lee

Northeastern University - Management Information Systems Area

Date Written: Feb 28, 2017

Abstract

When and why do people engage in different forms of proactive behavior at work? We propose that, as a result of a process of trait activation, employees with different types of self-construal engage in distinct forms of proactive behavior if they work in environments consistent with their self-construals. In an experimental Study 1 (N = 61), we examined the effect of self-construals on proactivity and found that people primed with interdependent self-construals engaged in more work unit-oriented proactive behavior when job interdependence also was manipulated. Priming independent self-construals did not enhance career-oriented proactive behavior, even when we manipulated job autonomy. In a field Study 2 (N = 205), we found that employees with interdependent self-construals working in jobs with high interdependence reported higher work unit commitment and higher work unit-oriented proactive behavior than employees in low interdependent jobs. Employees with independent self-construals working in jobs with high autonomy also exhibited stronger career commitment and more career-oriented proactive behavior than those in jobs with low autonomy. This research offers a theoretical framework to explain how dispositional and situational factors interactively shape people's engagement in different forms of proactive behavior.

Keywords: Self-construal, Job design, Proactive behavior, Trait activation, Commitment

Suggested Citation

Wu, Chia‐Huei and Parker, Sharon K. and Wu, Long-Zeng and Lee, Cynthia, When and Why People Engage in Different Forms of Proactive Behavior: Interactive Effects of Self-Construals and Work Characteristics (Feb 28, 2017). Wu, C. H., Parker, S. K., Wu, L. Z. & Lee, C.. When and why people engage in different forms of proactive behavior: Interactive effects of self-construals and work characteristics. Academy of Management Journal, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2973420

Chia‐Huei Wu (Contact Author)

Durham University ( email )

Old Elvet
Mill Hill Lane
Durham, Durham DH1 3HP
United Kingdom

Sharon K. Parker

The University of Western Australia ( email )

35 Stirling Highway
Crawley, Western Australia 6009
AUSTRALIA

Long-Zeng Wu

Xiamen University ( email )

Xiamen, Fujian 361005
China

Cynthia Lee

Northeastern University - Management Information Systems Area ( email )

Boston, MA 02115
United States

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