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Work-related proactivity through the lens of narrative: investigating emotional journeys in the process of making things happen

Bindl, Uta K. (2019) Work-related proactivity through the lens of narrative: investigating emotional journeys in the process of making things happen. Human Relations, 72 (4). pp. 615-645. ISSN 0018-7267

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0018726718778086

Abstract

Organizations benefit from proactive employees who initiate improvements at work. Although evidence suggests happy employees are more likely to become proactive, the emotional journeys employees take during the process of making things happen, and their implications for future proactivity at work, remain unclear. To develop an understanding of patterns of emotions in the process of proactivity, I conducted a qualitative study based on 92 proactivity episodes by employees and their managers in the service centre of a multinational organization. Findings, through the lens of narrative, indicate that emotional journeys in proactivity took different forms. First, a proactivity-as-frustration narrative captured individuals’ emotional patterns of proactivity as a consistently unpleasant action when initiated and seen through. Second, a proactivity-as-threat narrative captured instances of proactivity that derailed at the onset, owing to feelings of fear. Third, a proactivity-as-growth narrative, although initially characterized by negative emotions, gave way to feelings such as excitement, joy and pride in the process, as well as to sustained motivation to engage in proactivity. Overall, findings of this research show that as employees embark in showing initiative in their organization, they are set on different emotional paths that, in turn, likely impact their future willingness to become proactive at work.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://journals.sagepub.com/home/hum
Additional Information: © 2018 The Author
Divisions: Management
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Sets: Departments > Management
Date Deposited: 18 Apr 2018 14:45
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2020 00:24
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/87529

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