Last week Sharon attended an EAWOP Small Group Workshop on cross-cultural aspects of proactivity in Cergy, near Paris. Around 30 scholars came together from all over the world to discuss potential differences in proactive work behavior across different national cultures. The workshop was organised by Tina Urbach, Deanne den Hartog, Karoline Strauss, Doris Faye, and Sharon Parker (see photo).
After an insightful talk on the pitfalls of cross-cultural research from Professor Peter Smith, University of Sussex, the researchers discussed a wide range of research on proactivity across different countries.
One intriguing presentation by Frank Belchak and Deanne Den Hartog focused on proactivity in Ukraine, or, more accurately, lack of proactivity. This country scores highly on power-distance and uncertainty avoidance, two cultural variables that are likely to constrain proactivity. The culture of Ukraine, coupled with its history of communism and very low levels of autonomy in most jobs, meant proactivity is almost non-existing with Ukraine organisations. Proactivity is considered highly challenges to supervisors, often resulting in abuse from supervisors or negative career consequences. To the extent that proactivity exists, it tends to be narrow in scope, focused on crafting one's immediate job such as by putting in place workarounds to meet targets in spite of a lack of resources.
At the conclusion of the workshop, attendees discussed ways in which we might better unpack cross-cultural differences in proactivity in future research.