Antecedents, outcomes, and mechanisms of employee and leader proactivity

Project summary

As organisations grow increasingly turbulent and unpredictable, the topic of proactivity at work has become of great interest and importance for scholars, practitioners, and government. It is essential to explore how, why, and when employees and leaders are motivated to engage in proactive behaviours to initiate changes within their organisations.

Although proactivity has primarily conceptualized as an individual behaviour, in reality individuals can be proactive in many different ways and across multiple levels of an organisation. We begin to concern with understanding about the processes and dynamics that underpin proactivity at all levels within organisations ⸻ individual, group, and organisation.

Research on proactivity contributes in making important changes to the success of contemporary organisations and society. This project is based on an existing body of work by Professor Chen and his colleagues. The outcomes of their researches have appeared in top-tier academic journals (please see the related publications below).

Entry requirements

Applicants will need either a first class or upper second class honours degree in relevant subjects including business, psychology, criminology, and sociology or have appropriate and equivalent lived experience.

International students may also need to meet our English language requirements. Find out more about our entry requirements for international students.

Project specific requirements must align with the University’s standard requirements

How to apply

Please contact Professor Ziguang Chen ( in the first instance.

The University has four starting points each year for MPhil/PhD programmes (September, January, March and June). Applications should be made at least three months before you would want to start your programme. Please note that if you require a visa additional time will be required.


Self-funded by student. There is a range of options that may be available to you to help you fund your PhD.


Ziguang wearing a tuxedo shirt and bow tie
Professor of Organisational Behavior and Human Resource Management

Ziguang is a Professor of Organisational Behavior and Human Resource Management, a member of the University Professorial Council and Internal Review Panel of ESRC grants at the University of Derby, UK.