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Proactivity and personal initiative

Men at work
Photo: privat
Personal initiative at work

Personal initiative and other proactive work behaviours are key to achieving a high level of work performance in many types of jobs. Research on proactivity shows that antecedents of proactivity are located in different areas: job design, characteristics of the person, leadership, organizational characteristics. Of particular interest in this area is the reciprocal relationship between proactivity and work characteristics. Well designed jobs foster proactivity, and proactivity, in turn, leads to having better jobs. Our current research focuses on the reactions of supervisors and colleagues to proactivity and personal initiative; intra-individual fluctuations of proactivity, and the relationship of proactivity and well-being. As part of the DFG-funded graduate school (1668/1) we look into the role of personal initiative for development of primary school children’s’ learning progress (see PIER Project).


Prof. Dr. Sabine Sonnentag, Universität Mannheim
Prof. Dr. Michael Frese, National University of Singapore und Leuphana University
Dr. Oliver Weigelt, FernUniversität in Hagen

Selected Publications

Fay, D., & Hüttges, A. (2016 – online preview). Drawbacks of Proactivity: Effects of Daily Proactivity on Daily Salivary Cortisol and Subjective Well-Being. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. doi: 10.1037/ocp0000042.

Urbach, T., Fay, D., & Lauche, K. (2016). Who will be on my side? The role of peers’ achievement motivation in the evaluation of innovative ideas. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology. 25(4), 540-560. doi: 10.1080/1359432X.2016.1176558.

Li, W.-D., Fay, D., Frese, M., Harms, P. D., & Gao, X. Y. (2014). Reciprocal relationship between proactive personality and work characteristics: A latent change score approach. Journal of Applied Psychology, 99(5), 948-965. DOI: 10.1037/a0036169.

Fay, D., & Sonnentag, S. (2012). Within-Person Fluctuations of Proactive Behavior: How Affect and Experienced Competence Regulate Work Behavior. Human Performance, 25, 72–93.

Frese, M., Garst, H., & Fay, D. (2007). Making things happen: Reciprocal relationships between work characteristics and personal initiative in a four-wave longitudinal structural equation model. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(4), 1084-1102.