Initiative in a Social Context: Interpersonal Outcomes of Interdependent Proactive Behaviour


Organisations increasingly expect employees to take initiative at work (i.e., enact proactive behaviour) while simultaneously relying on individuals to work with others to complete tasks. We argue proactive behaviour within an interdependent context is a potentially risky social behaviour as others may not appreciate changes to the way their team does things. Thus, before organisations blanketly encourage individual proactive behaviour, it is important to understand variability in how others react to and interpret such behaviours. The current studies investigate the implications of how and by whom proactive behaviours in interdependent settings are enacted. In particular, we suggest individuals base their reactions to another's interdependent proactive behaviour based on this person's role and perceived social skill. Moreover, these reactions shape the extent to which individuals are willing to trust this other person. Data collected across two studies indicated that individuals were most likely to positively react to and trust another team-member who enacted proactive behaviour if that team-member was high in social skill. The enacting members' role on the team also influenced how others reacted to their proactive behaviour. Our two studies allowed us to establish the robustness of our findings across a variety of industries, utilizing two different study designs.


Psychological Science

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1359-432X; 1464-0643

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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Publication Date

01 Jun 2019