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"Proactive" redirects here. For the acne treatment, see Proactiv Solution. For the Java software, see ProActive.

In organizational behavior and industrial/organizational psychology, proactivity or proactive behavior by individuals refers to anticipatory, change-oriented and self-initiated behavior in situations, particularly in the workplace[citation needed]. Proactive behavior involves acting in advance of a future situation, rather than just reacting. It means taking control and making things happen rather than just adjusting to a situation or waiting for something to happen. Proactive employees generally do not need to be asked to act, nor do they require detailed instructions.

Proactive behavior can be contrasted with other work-related behaviors, such as proficiency, i.e. the fulfillment of predictable requirements of one’s job, or adaptability, the successful coping with and support of change initiated by others in the organization. In regard to the latter, whereas adaptability is about responding to change, proactivity is about initiating change.

Proactivity is not restricted to [extra role performance] behaviors. Employees can be proactive in their prescribed role (e.g. by changing the way they perform a core task to be more efficient). Likewise, behaviors labeled as Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB) can be carried out proactively or passively. For example, the [altruistic] OCB can be proactive in nature (e.g. offering help to co-workers before they ask for assistance).


The use of the word proactive (or pro-active) was limited to the domain of experimental psychology in the 1930s, and used with a different meaning.[1] Oxford English Dictionary (OED)[2] credits Paul Whiteley and Gerald Blankfort, citing their 1933 paper discussing proactive inhibition as the "impairment or retardation of learning or of the remembering of what is learned by effects that remain active from conditions prior to the learning".[3]

In another related meaning, the 1946 book [Man's Search for Meaning] brought the word to the wider public domain. The author, Austrian existential neuropsychiatrist Dr. Viktor Frankl, used the word to describe a person who took responsibility for his or her life, rather than looking for causes in outside circumstances or other people. Frankl stressed the importance of courage, perseverance, individual responsibility and awareness of the existence of choices, regardless of the situation or context.[4]

Etymologically, this is a "centaur" word (like "bi-cycle"), combining a Greek prefix ("pro-" meaning "before") with a Latin root, "active". The Latin prefix "pre-" ("before") could have been used, but perhaps it would then be confused with "re-active".

See also[edit]



  1. ^ proactive - Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Merriam Webster dates the origin of the word to 1933.
  2. ^ proactive - Definition from the Oxford English Dictionary
  3. ^ Whiteley, Paul L.; Blankfort, Gerald (1933), "The Influence of Certain Prior Conditions Upon Learning", Journal of Experimental Psychology (APA) 16: 843–851, doi:10.1037/h0075141 
  4. ^ Page, Randy (2003-01-01). "Responsibility: Are We Proactive or Reactive?". Fostering Emotional Well-Being in the Classroom. Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc. p. 50. ISBN 978-0763700553. Retrieved 2012-08-18. 


  • Bateman, T. S., & Crant, J. M. (1993). The proactive component of organizational-behavior: A measure and correlates. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 14(2), 103-118.
  • Campbell, D. J. (2000). The proactive employee: Managing workplace initiative. Academy of Management Executive, 14(3), 52-66.
  • Crant, M. J. (2000). Proactive behavior in organizations. Journal of Management, 26(3), 435-462.
  • Frese, M., & Fay, D. (2001). Personal initiative: An active performance concept for work in the 21st century. Research in Organizational Behavior, 23, 133-187.
  • Frese, M., Kring, W., Soose, A., & Zempel, J. (1996). Personal initiative at work: Differences between East and West Germany. Academy of Management Journal, 39(1), 37-63.
  • Grant, A. M., & Ashford, S. J. 2008. The dynamics of proactivity at work. Research in Organizational Behavior, 28: 3-34. http://www.unc.edu/~agrant/publications.htm
  • Griffin, M. A., Neal, A., & Parker, S. K. (2007). A new model of work role performance: Positive behavior in uncertain and interdependent contexts. Academy of Management Journal, 50(2), 327 - 347.
  • Parker, S. K., & Collins, C. G. (2010). Taking stock: Integrating and differentiating multiple forms of proactive behavior. Journal of Management. 36, 633-662. http://parker.zydec.net.au/publications/Parker&collins_ProactivityDimensions_JOM_InPress.pdf
  • Parker, S. K., Williams, H. M., & Turner, N. (2006). Modeling the antecedents of proactive behavior at work. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91(3), 636-652. http://parker.zydec.net.au/publications/parker_et_al_modelingProactiveBehavior_JAP_2006.pdf
  • Parker, S. K., Bindl, U. K., & Strauss, K. (2010). Making things happen: A model of proactive motivation. Journal of Management. Vol, 36, 827 - 856. http://zydec.net.au/parker/publications/Parker,%20Bindl,%20Strauss,%20Making%20it%20happen_JOM-2010.pdf

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proactivity — Please support Wikipedia.
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137 news items


Thu, 07 Aug 2014 06:08:41 -0700

"So it is important to sustain a proactive workforce, and we have found that job satisfaction is important, not just as an instigator of proactivity, but as a force for maintaining momentum," Strauss said in a statement. [8 Amazing Job Benefits That ...
Cornell University The Cornell Daily Sun (blog)
Mon, 25 Aug 2014 22:07:52 -0700

The CAT will be a team of two officers that work outside of the typical patrol rotation without a beat or a fixed schedule, selected to provide increased flexibility, response time and proactivity, according to Myrick. “If there is a rash of burglaries ...
Business 2 Community
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 15:07:30 -0700

In essence, Greggs strategy was simply; awareness, proactivity, swiftness, communicating in an engaging and transparent way, dealing with everything with a sense of humour and candour, which made light of what was potentially a fairly big problem.
Pro Bono Australia
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 16:48:45 -0700

Through proactivity and leadership in the CSR arena, the hopes of the report's authors maybe come to fruition - that Australian marketers will not have to choose between profit and purpose in future, but are instead able to work in an era both can be ...

The Nation Newspaper

The Nation Newspaper
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 16:00:58 -0700

He urge the NLC to leverage on the provisions of the Act by ensuring that workers were sensitised to demand for their rights as provided and also ensure compliance by all tiers of government and the private sector employers. The proactivity of the NLC ...
Huffington Post Canada
Mon, 25 Aug 2014 09:50:45 -0700

Although I'm extremely grateful for his quick thinking and proactivity, I really liked that rose bush. Eighteen years ago, after the baby was safely delivered, and the new mother was tucked into her bed; newborn swaddled in her arms; husbands were sent ...
CIPD (blog)
Fri, 08 Aug 2014 04:21:49 -0700

Proactivity is important for innovation and implementing organisational change,” said Dr Karoline Strauss, one of the study's authors and part of the organisation & HR management group at Warwick Business School. “So it is important to sustain a ...
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 02:45:00 -0700

Creative mind, innovative ideas, proactivity and the ability to think and learn fast. The ability to work in a close team environment as well as the capability to work independently, whilst taking responsibility as an individual. A positive and ...

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