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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 
  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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139 news items


Thu, 03 Jul 2014 12:18:45 -0700

Nigeria's lower legislative body, the House of Representatives has urged the government to take proactive measures to ensure that the deadly Ebola virus disease did not spread to Nigeria.The lawmakers also mandated its committees on Health and Disaster ...

Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Herald
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 22:37:30 -0700

Proactive, assertive students get the best places, but proactivity is not the only valuable attribute. All students deserve insight from experienced adults about careers that could work for them, and a strong work experience program can provide that ...
Huffington Post
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:30:00 -0700

The answer is that reactivity -- what you're doing when you answer email or respond to something on social media -- is the opposite of proactivity. Proactivity is you deciding the outcome of your your time and moving forward toward your goals ...
The Roar
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 08:20:10 -0700

This expectation needs to lead to a bit of proactivity in the line up, with Michael Clarke at three with Steven Smith at four. This promotion of our best players of spin will calm the others in the line-up, in particular the ace in the Aussie batting ...


Tue, 29 Jul 2014 13:37:30 -0700

... but Cook resisted the temptation to match M S Dhoni's eccentric tactics the day before when he rotated his seamers with a sequence of one over spells in the hour's play after lunch. No wickets fell in that time. Too much proactivity can be as bad ...
WorkersCompensation.com (press release) (blog)
Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:18:45 -0700

But that doesn't mean that the employer can't demonstrate some proactivity. An employer should let a carrier know that it can, and will, if asked, provide information which seems to contradict the size or credibility of a claim. And there is nothing ...
Middle East Online
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 02:56:15 -0700

But not all of the government's addiction to contractors can be explained by corporate proactivity. The government also granted companies generous limited liability stipulations that make it relatively easy for them to shift the majority of the ...
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 08:56:15 -0700

2 game with a greater sense of proactivity about preventive cancer screenings, and a greater appreciation that cancer can befall anyone at any time. The Center For Disease Control estimates more than 196,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in ...

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