Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 801–816 | Cite as

Enhancing a Sense of Competence at Work by Engaging in Proactive Behavior: The Role of Proactive Personality

  • Chia-Huei Wu
  • Hong Deng
  • Yuhui Li
Research Paper


To understand how individuals’ senses of competence are cultivated, scholars have primarily focused on situational factors such as job autonomy and supervisor support. Against this backdrop, we propose that individuals can work as active agents and enhance their sense of competence by initiating actions that aim to master the environment. We adopt the behavioral concordance model and propose that people higher in proactive personality are more likely to engage in proactive behavior that elevates their senses of competence over time. We further propose that such behavioral concordance contributes to boosting a sense of competence is more prominent among those with higher proactive personality. Our predictions are supported by data from 172 employees and their direct supervisors in China, after controlling for the effect of job autonomy and supervisor support for autonomy. Specifically, only those higher in proactive personality engaged in more proactive behavior and increased their sense of competence over time. This study highlights both a self-initiated and a behavioral perspective on understanding the development of a sense of competence.


Proactive behavior Proactive personality Latent change score Sense of competence 



The authors thank the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) for sponsoring this research (Project 71202148).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ManagementLondon School of Economics and Political ScienceLondonUK
  2. 2.Alliance Manchester Business SchoolUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK
  3. 3.School of Labor and Human ResourcesRenmin University of ChinaBeijingChina

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