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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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162 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 ...
Mon, 01 Sep 2014 10:26:15 -0700

While Covey's 7-habits book has more than just a tinge of salesy win-win proactivity about it, the big data pedagogue is probably a more considered character with a deeply analytical brain, yet still able to be nimble and pre-emptive. Let us consider ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Mon, 01 Sep 2014 05:16:59 -0700

“With housing benefits changes now on the horizon, good levels of trust a communication and proactivity between landlords and tenants are critical,” he said. Read more: Lessons to learn from the direct payment pilot schemes · Three ways to improve how ...
Financial Times
Sun, 31 Aug 2014 14:56:15 -0700

What is at stake is the adaptability of young French graduates as they enter a world in which self-awareness, proactivity and the ability to self-direct are as essential as technical and business knowledge. In my conversations with leaders and ...
Barbados Advocate
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 18:21:13 -0700

The key to success must be a high level of proactivity. A sustained review and constant analysis of any gains made, and alternate immediate tweaking of areas not achieving the desired goals, must be observed. Decisive and determined leadership by all ...
Huffington Post Canada
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 11:45:00 -0700

Despite tightening laws and increasing proactivity from food watchdog groups in some countries, organic food fraud continues to occur because the label can fetch double the price of conventional produce. Researchers explored a technique called magnetic ...
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 15:42:51 -0700

“If you take a look at our proactivity, if you take a look at our flood insurance claim history, I think we're deservingly ranked up high. If you take a bigger view, and take a look at some other measures like sea level rise and land subsidence, one ...

CTV News

CTV News
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 07:48:45 -0700

Despite tightening laws and increasing proactivity from food watchdog groups in some countries, organic food fraud continues to occur because the label can fetch double the price of conventional produce. Researchers explored a technique called magnetic ...

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