The Role of Leader Support in Facilitating Proactive Work Behavior: A Perspective From Attachment Theory

Chia Huei Wu, Sharon K. Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

58 Citations (Scopus)
178 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Researchers have proposed that leader support helps employees behave proactively at work. Leader support can facilitate the opportunities for employees to bring about change, as well as their motivation to do so. Nevertheless, empirical studies have shown mixed effects of leader support on employees’ proactive behavior. In this study, to reconcile the inconsistent findings on the impact of leader support on employees’ proactive behavior, the authors consider the content, mediating mechanisms, and boundary conditions of leader support in shaping employees’ proactive behavior. On the basis of attachment theory, the authors propose that secure-base support from leaders (support in the form of leader availability, encouragement, and noninterference) positively predicts employees’ proactive work behavior by increasing their role breadth self-efficacy and autonomous motivation. These hypotheses are supported in an online-survey sample from U.S. participants (N = 138) and a sample from a large gas and oil company in China (N = 212). The authors further propose that the beneficial effects of secure-base support from leaders are more prominent for individuals with lower attachment security. This hypothesis was also supported: Individuals high in attachment anxiety especially benefited from leader secure-base support in terms of its effect on role breadth self-efficacy; whereas those who are high in attachment avoidance especially benefited from leader secure-base support in terms of its effect on autonomous motivation. Our study helps explain how leaders’ support motivates employees’ proactive behavior, particularly for those individuals who have lower attachment security.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1025-1049
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Management
Volume43
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017

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Work behavior
Attachment theory
Employees
Proactive behavior
Self-efficacy
Gas
Avoidance
Empirical study
China
Boundary conditions
Online survey
Oil
Anxiety

Cite this

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The Role of Leader Support in Facilitating Proactive Work Behavior : A Perspective From Attachment Theory. / Wu, Chia Huei; Parker, Sharon K.

In: Journal of Management, Vol. 43, No. 4, 01.04.2017, p. 1025-1049.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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