Proficiency, adaptivity and proactivity: The cornerstones of work performance?

We are pleased to announce the most recent publication by Centre members Joseph Carpini, Sharon Parker, and Mark Griffin which will appear in the 2017 edition of the Academy of Management Annals.

For the better part of a century, researchers and practitioners alike have spent much time and energy trying to measure, predict, and change individual work performance. In these endeavours, the fundamental question of “what is individual work performance” has had surprisingly little attention. And the attention that has been granted is largely piece-meal.

Thus, the purpose of this article was simple – provide a comprehensive overview of the existing literature and, in doing so, identify where research must head to next.

The article has three parts.

In the first part, the research team traces the development of the individual work performance literature over the past 40 years, using scientific mapping to show its current state (see Figure above). The authors conclude that, while there is a large breadth of research related to individual work performance, the literature is fragmented and often appears in silos.

In the next part of the article, the authors bridge the silos together to provide a comprehensive picture of performance. The authors reviewed 97 existing performance constructs and systematically integrated them into a “bigger picture”. The results of this synthesis suggests that, consistent with Griffin et al., 2007, there are three general types of individual work performance that account for most of the constructs in the literature.

(1) Proficiency, or the prescribed core elements of people’s work, including how people work with colleagues to achieve work-related outcomes.

(2) Adaptivity, or how people adapt to changing conditions.

(3) Proactivity, or how people initiate change in the work place.

The authors also systematically mapped key predictors and outcomes of these three types of performance.

In the final part of the paper, the team takes a leap into the future of individual work performance research and outlines 18 recommendations. The recommendations are designed to provide conceptual clarity as well as stimulate innovative research on individual work performance. Key questions such as, “how does individual work performance evolve over time?” and “how does individual performance contribute to team and organizational performance?” are discussed.

This paper provides a springboard for future research and practice on individual work performance.

You can access a copy of the article here. You are welcome to leave comments in the section below.

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