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Proactive behavior refers to self-initiated, anticipatory action that aims to change and improve the situation or oneself, such as taking charge to introduce new work methods, voicing ideas for improvements, or using one’s initiative. Such behavior is very important in today’s decentralized work place where there is greater competition and enhanced pressure for innovation. In this presentation, I discuss findings from a program of research conducted by myself and colleagues aimed at better understanding proactive behavior at work. The work presented considers what proactive behavior is, the dynamics underpinning proactive action, and antecedents of proactive behavior. I present a ‘Can Do/Reason To/Energised To’ model of proactive motivation, and report on a series of studies investigating this model across several contexts, including an intervention study. I conclude with directions for future research.
Sharon K. Parker is a Winthrop Professor of Organizational Behavior at the UWA Business School, University of Western Australia. Prior to this, she was a Professor of Organizational Psychology and Director at the Institute of Work Psychology, University of Sheffield. She was recently selected as a Future Fellow by the Australian Research Council, and is one of only two fellows in the area of business and management. Her research interests are focused on proactive behavior, work design, self-efficacy, and employee perspective taking. She has published 5 books, over forty internationally refereed journal articles (including publications in top tier journals such as the Journal of Applied Psychology and Academy of Management Journal), over 40 book chapters and encyclopedia entries, numerous articles in practitioner outlets, and more than 60 technical reports. Professor Parker is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Applied Psychology, one of the leading journals in organizational behavior. She has attracted competitive research funding worth over $3,000,000, and has worked as a researcher and consulting in a wide range of public and private organizations.