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The performance implications of ambivalent initiative: The interplay of autonomous and controlled motivations

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  • Grant, Adam M.
  • Nurmohamed, Samir
  • Ashford, Susan J.
  • Dekas, Kathryn

Abstract

Although initiative is thought to contribute to higher performance, researchers have called for a more comprehensive understanding of the contingencies for this relationship. Building on self-determination theory, we propose that initiative is more likely to predict performance when individuals experience autonomous and not controlled motivation. Across two studies, we find support for a hypothesized three-way interaction between initiative, autonomous motivation, and controlled motivation in predicting individual performance. In Study 1, the personal initiative reported by job applicants was most positively related to the number of job offers that they received several months later when they experienced high autonomous motivation and low controlled motivation. In Study 2, the objective initiative taken by call center employees was most positively related to the revenue that they generated in subsequent months when they reported high autonomous motivation and low controlled motivation. We discuss theoretical implications for motivation, initiative, proactivity, and performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Grant, Adam M. & Nurmohamed, Samir & Ashford, Susan J. & Dekas, Kathryn, 2011. "The performance implications of ambivalent initiative: The interplay of autonomous and controlled motivations," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 116(2), pages 241-251.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:116:y:2011:i:2:p:241-251
    DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2011.03.004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Pinkley, Robin L. & Neale, Margaret A. & Bennett, Rebecca J., 1994. "The Impact of Alternatives to Settlement in Dyadic Negotiation," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 97-116, January.
    2. Williams, Patti & Aaker, Jennifer L, 2002. " Can Mixed Emotions Peacefully Coexist?," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(4), pages 636-649, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kanfer, Ruth & Chen, Gilad, 2016. "Motivation in organizational behavior: History, advances and prospects," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 6-19.

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