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date: 17 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Being proactive involves self-initiated efforts to bring about a change in the work environment and/or oneself in order to achieve a different future. Proactivity is future-focused, self-starting, and change-oriented in its emphasis. There is clear evidence that proactivity makes a difference—studies show its value for outcomes like job performance, innovation, and career success. It is thus important to understand the drivers of proactivity, which is our focus here. We review how the concept of proactivity has evolved, most recently being considered as a goal-driven process. Next, we summarize motivational mechanisms that underpin proactivity. We then identify distal antecedents, reviewing individual differences and contextual influences on proactivity. Finally, we identify promising areas for future research. In particular, we advocate the need to explore the dynamic spirals of primary and secondary control processes inherent in proactive goal pursuit. For example, after an initial period of adapting to an environment, individuals might proactively introduce change into that environment, and then face a new environment, created in part by them, that requires further adaptivity.

Keywords: Proactivity, work behavior, proactive behavior, future-orientation, change, personal initiative, self-starting, proactive feedback seeking, taking charge

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