Proactivity with image in mind: How employee and manager characteristics affect evaluations of proactive behaviours

Katleen E.M. de Stobbeleir, Susan J. Ashford, Mary F.Sully de Luque

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations


This paper investigates image cost as a potential downside of proactivity. Drawing on attribution theory, we examine how people construct subjective evaluations of one manifestation of proactivity, feedback-seeking behaviour. Using a scenario methodology, we examined how employees' performance history, their manager's implicit person theory (IPT), and the frequency of their feedback-seeking affect how managers evaluate employees' feedback seeking. Results indicate that manager attribute average performers' feedback seeking significantly less to performance-enhancement motives than superior performers' seeking. Results further show that the frequency of feedback seeking and a manager's IPT interact in influencing managers' attributions for feedback seeking, with more entity oriented managers attributing frequent feedback seeking significantly more to impression-management motives than infrequent feedback requests. These results highlight the importance of not only the instrumental benefits of employee proactivity, but also its potential costs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-369
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2010


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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