Faculty of Business Administration

Distinguished Scholar Seminar


How, why and when employees take proactive actions to improve the situation and themselves?


Prof. Chia- Huei WU
Professor in Organisational Psychology,
University of Leeds, UK


Date:       Wednesday, 14 April 2021
Time:     4:00 p.m.
Format:   Online via Zoom






How, why and when employees take proactive actions to improve the situation and themselves? Whether and how work experiences and environment shape employees’ personality over time? In this talk, Dr. Wu will present his research programs on employee proactivity and personality development and research lines and activities building on these two tracks. Dr. Wu will then present a recent study investigating why employees different in their proactive directions (i.e., some employees are proactive for themselves while some are proactive for the work team). Building on self-construal theory and trait activation theory, Dr. Wu and his colleagues propose that, as a result of a process of trait activation, employees with different types of self-construal engage in distinct forms of proactive behavior if they work in environments consistent with their self-construals. In an experimental Study 1 (N = 61), they examined the effect of self-construals on proactivity and found that people primed with interdependent self-construals engaged in more work unit–oriented proactive behavior when job interdependence also was manipulated. Priming independent self-construals did not enhance career-oriented proactive behavior, even when we manipulated job autonomy. In a field Study 2 (N = 205), they found that employees with interdependent self-construals working in jobs with high interdependence reported higher work unit commitment and higher work unit–oriented proactive behavior than employees in low interdependent jobs. Employees with independent self-construals working in jobs with high autonomy also exhibited stronger career commitment and more career-oriented proactive behavior than those in jobs with low autonomy. This research offers a theoretical framework to explain how dispositional and situational factors interactively shape people’s engagement in different forms of proactive behavior. Dr. Wu will also present a latest follow-up study on this topic.


Dr Chia-Huei Wu is Professor in Organisational Psychology at the University of Leeds, UK. His research in organisational behaviour focuses on proactive behaviour, personality development, work design and employees’ subjective well-being. His work has appeared in leading journals, including Academy of Management Journal, the Journal of Applied Psychology and the Journal of Management, among others. He is the author of the book Employee Proactivity in Organizations: An Attachment Perspective. He is a current associate editor for the Journal of Management. Before joining Leeds, Chia-Huei was Associated Professor at Durham University (2018–2020), and Assistant Professor at London School of Economics (2013–2018). He received his PhD from the University of Western Australia. He is interested in taking PhD students.