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Construct Clean-Up in Proactivity Research: A Meta-Analysis on the Nomological Net of Work-Related Proactivity Concepts and their Incremental Validities



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Corrigendum Volume 64, Issue 4, 626–636, Article first published online: 30 July 2015

  • The research was supported as the Project “Personal Initiative and Performance” by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG; FR 638/29-1) and the revision of this article by NUS, Business School grant (Nr R-317-000-084-133). Katharina Tornau is now at inmediaONE] GmbH, Guetersloh, Germany.

Michael Frese, NUS Business School, Mochtar Riady Building, 15 Kent Ridge Drive, Singapore 119245. Email:


The overall goal of the meta-analytic review of the most frequently studied proactivity concepts—personal initiative, proactive personality, taking charge, and voice—was cleaning up the number and overlap of proactivity constructs and examining their construct validity. We provide a unifying framework for proactivity theory and a nomological net. We studied 163 independent samples (N= 36,079). The meta-analysis found high correlations between proactive personality and personal initiative/personality. Further, there were strong relationships between voice, taking charge, and personal initiative/behavior. For construct clean-up, we suggest that the two proactive personality constructs can be taken as functionally equivalent and that this is also true to some extent for the three proactive behavior constructs—the latter signify proactive behavior. All proactive concepts showed clear correlations with performance (from .13 to .34 depending upon construct and objectivity level of performance). However, the proactive personality concepts were also highly correlated with the Big Five personality factors and showed very low to no incremental validity for work performance; this is contradictory to prior meta-analyses on proactive personality and is discussed in detail. In contrast, proactive behavior scales (personal initiative/behavior, taking charge, and voice) predicted job performance well above and beyond personality.